To put it mildly, this year has demanded a lot from your clients.
Above all, many have had to pivot to remote work quickly. While this was a necessary change, it was also a rather jarring one, taking a physical and mental toll on employees.
In 2021, your clients have the opportunity to regroup and strategize for a healthier year working from home. Instead of being reactive, they can be proactive in providing the advice, support and resources their employees need to stay well remotely.
As their broker, you can offer the insight they need to stay proactive, and provide vital tools to help them successfully navigate remote working in 2021.
Here's what we expect to see this year:
While video conferencing has been an invaluable tool, it's no match for in-person communication. The new normal of talking through Zoom or BlueJeans is sorely missing a human connection, and this medium can easily incite anxiety. Between potential miscommunications or awkward situations, many employees would much prefer either talking in person or through written means.
Wired brought up an interesting point about the growing discomfort with voice communication:
"What people have wanted for the last 13 years is not to speak on the phone. U.S. research firm Nielsen pinpointed the switch to silent communication in autumn 2007 when for the first time the average number of per person monthly texts (218) superseded average phone calls (213). It never switched back."
This article also points out that while older generations still prefer phone calls, millennials who grew up during this transition from calling to texting are now in the workplace. Those preferences haven't seemed to change.
These anxieties around video or phone calls can leave your clients' employees feeling isolated, with no comfortable way to reach out to their leadership. This leads to an inevitable breakdown in communication, which can severely hurt a company's productivity.
Hiding Behind Screens
Compared to seeing your team and leadership every day, it’s much easier to put on a façade of wellness, happiness and productivity while remote. Instead of chatting in-person at the coffee maker or checking in throughout the day, employees may only see their managers once or twice a day – through a screen.
If your clients' employees were struggling back in the office, it might be easier to spot significant changes in their personality or performance, such as:
- Routinely coming in late
- Looking tired or listless
- Being distracted and forgetting things
- Making consistent mistakes
- Having a major personality shift
In the office, a manager could notice these red flags quickly and talk to their employee to see how they could help. Remotely? It's easy for an employee to fake a smile for a ten-minute call or hide any issues they're having.
Without being in-person, it's almost impossible for a manager to get a beat on an employee's overall wellness – both physical and emotional.
These struggles can quickly seep from their personal life into their professional life, leading to an issue called "presenteeism." Presenteeism is the issue of employees still showing up to work every day despite being burnt out, exhausted or not mentally prepared.
According to Gallup, disconnected employees like this cost the United States up to $605 billion every year in lost productivity.
Presenteeism is easier to spot in an office setting, but leadership can't keep track of their employees while at home. This means that an employee's productivity and focus could be disastrously low, and a manager would have no way of knowing until it was reflected in their work.
Lack of Boundaries
For many, working from home has blurred the boundaries between work time and personal time. Your clients may find it difficult to track if their team is taking well-deserved time to unplug or not.
The main issue is that now, there’s no office to check out of every day. Employees are attached to their devices and often have little physical barriers between their workspace and home space.
It’s much easier to get sucked into working too long when your work computer is across the room, as opposed to across town.
Sure, there will always be nights when employees might have to work a little late. But being consistently overwhelmed with work, or having inadequate coping mechanisms to relax during non-business hours, can quickly lead to employee burnout. Burnt out employees suffer from a lack of focus, sleep and motivation, and are more likely to make mistakes.
Your clients' employees also may be less likely to take their paid time off during this time. Since travel is unsafe during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may feel a little silly taking their vacations, losing that time to recharge.
As for mental health days, they're slowly becoming a more popular benefit in the U.S. (In fact, offering mental health days has been proven to improve employee trust and engagement, boosting retention rates and productivity.) But employees may still feel unsure about taking a day for themselves, even if they need it.
What Can Brokers Do?
How can you help your clients during this tumultuous time? By helping them prepare for these hurdles ahead of time.
Start by having a conversation about this year's coming issues and the patterns that your clients have already noticed in their employees' wellness. From there, you can recommend the benefits, tools and resources they will need to track their team’s wellness from afar.
If they're feeling overwhelmed about this prospect, they're not alone. At first glance, this may seem like an almost impossible task. That's why IPMG designed In-Sight 360º to make this process easier.
Discover In-Sight 360º
In-Sight 360º helps your clients manage the health and productivity of remote teams by providing a central, fully-integrated platform for all employee benefits, injury, workers' compensation, absence and engagement activity. In-Sight 360º also connects your clients to specialized management and implementation teams that use employee health data to minimize risks and promote productivity proactively.
As more companies plan for long-term and permanent remote work policies, the need for data-driven health and wellbeing management has never been greater. If your self-insured clients care about curating an engaged, productive workforce and keeping benefit costs down, In-Sight 360º could be the solution for them.
If you're interested in exploring what this solution has to offer your clients, contact IPMG today to learn more.