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Alight named by Fortune as one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ in 2024

What is the future of work? How resilience can positively affect the employee experience.

By Stephan Scholl

If there’s one word that sums up the last three years, it’s resilience. The very fact that you are here, reading this article proves you are resilient. Just think about all you’ve been through. A once-in-a-century pandemic, racial injustice, mass shootings, a contentious political climate and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. To be clear, I’m not saying you’ve sailed through these challenges with ease – or that everything is smooth sailing now – but you made it through. I sincerely hope you, your family and your business are thriving.

Ironically, some of the strategies that enabled so many businesses to remain operational throughout the pandemic are contributing to some of the unease leaders are feeling today. The opportunity to keep people working by quickly pivoting to a work-from-home model singlehandedly saved thousands of companies from ruin. But now, those same companies are struggling with the question of whether they should allow their people to continue working remotely or require them to return to the office. There are many factors to be considered and no easy solution, to be sure, but one thing is for certain – the employer-employee relationship is forever changed.  

Emerging from the pandemic, we were met with rampant inflation, supply chain problems and rumblings about a possible recession. Naturally, this led some organizations to begin laying off employees to keep costs under control. However, others have struggled to hire enough people to keep up with the pent-up demand for goods and services that had created a raging war for talent and 50-year low unemployment. Many companies have actually found themselves implementing widespread layoffs in one area of the business, while struggling to find the talent they need in another.

That talent – the people who literally determine the success or failure of all our businesses – have learned a lot, too. They learned that more than ever, they hold the keys to their own careers. From The Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting, they’re in the driver’s seat and it’s our job to deliver an employee experience that gives them the fuel to live the kind of life they have envisioned for themselves.

At this critical juncture, 92% of employers say enhancing the employee experience is a top priority for achieving post-pandemic success. Moreover, a well-done employee experience is a key driver for employee engagement, according to renowned HR guru Josh Bersin, who we’ve been increasingly partnering with to bring thought leadership around wellbeing and the employee experience to the HR community.

While several factors play a role in achieving this goal (e.g., compensation and benefits, scheduling, safe workplace protocols and employee learning), investing in employee wellbeing is increasingly becoming a key focus. Supporting people to live their best lives at work and at home can make a significant difference from a physical, financial, emotional, social and professional wellbeing perspective. According to the 2022 Alight International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Report, 80 percent of people citing a great employee experience believe their company genuinely cares about their wellbeing, compared to just 16% of those reporting an awful experience.

Let’s flip that on its head. Eighty-four percent of people who rate their employee experience as awful don’t believe their employer cares about their wellbeing. That’s incredibly concerning. It also provides an incredible opportunity. Sure, other factors of the employee experience come into play, but it stands to reason there is much to be gained by adopting a holistic approach to all four pillars of wellbeing – healthy mind, healthy body, healthy wallet and healthy life – grounded in inclusion, all intricately intertwined and interdependent.

"Eighty-four percent of people who rate their employee experience as awful don’t believe their employer cares about their wellbeing. That’s incredibly concerning. It also provides an incredible opportunity."

Some employers are cutting back on the generous benefits they rolled out during the pandemic. Big mistake. More than ever, employees are viewing benefits – especially wellbeing benefits – as table stakes. In fact, more than half of employees say wellbeing benefits are more important to them than a salary increase. Increasingly, people are also saying they are willing to earn less money in exchange for meaningful work. Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, are less likely than previous generations to be wooed by wages alone.

An investment in wellbeing not only improves employee health, it strengthens the employee-employer relationship, increases trust and enhances engagement. But that’s not all. Companies that integrate wellbeing into their organizational purpose, mission and values tend to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. According to research from The Josh Bersin Company, organizations that leverage the right wellbeing strategies are more than twice as likely to outperform their peers financially; more than five times as likely to have lower annual healthcare claim costs; and do three times better at employee recruitment and retention. Investing in wellbeing is one of the smartest things a company can do.

The last few years have proved the familiar adage, “May you live in interesting times” is indeed a curse disguised as a blessing. It would be difficult to make the argument that we have been living in anything but interesting times. Those employers who view these challenges as opportunities and take the initiative to deliver great employee experiences, complete with personalized wellbeing benefits and meaningful work, will succeed in improving employee recruitment and retention, while maintaining – or even growing – the bottom line.

Stephan Scholl
Stephan Scholl
By Stephan Scholl

As CEO, Stephan Scholl is responsible for the strategy, growth and business performance of Alight, a leading provider of next-level human capital and business solutions. Over his more than 25-year career, Stephan has created a reputation as a transformational leader, passionate about customer success. He is focused on driving results, delivering value and improving business processes for global organizations by harnessing the full power of leading cloud-based solutions.

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