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Guest Blog Post from IDC: The Role of Employee Benefits in People Sustainability

This blog, authored by Lisa Rowan, VP of Modern HR Strategies at IDC, discusses the strategic role benefits can play in helping organizations attract and retain talent, and meet their people sustainability goals.  


The Role of Employee Benefits in People Sustainability

Date: October  2022

Guest IDC Blogger: Lisa Rowan, VP Modern HR Strategies

Sponsored by: SAP SuccessFactors

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, a record 47 million workers quit their jobs in the United States in 2021, and the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 3.7% as of September 2022. Jobs across all business sectors are going unfilled due to a lack of available talent. In the wake of the pandemic, there is no single reason for the high degree of job abandonment, but one thing is clear: Scarcity and competition have created a new battle for talent.

While the battle for talent rages, we are seeing great interest and much investment in support of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. An ESG strategy is defined as a business model that emphasizes social responsibility with the goal of sustainability. Of the three pillars of ESG, the “S” or “social” undoubtedly applies to workers and the workforce. In essence, the people component of ESG can be thought of as “people sustainability.”

People sustainability encompasses several initiatives, including:

  • Health and safety
  • Well-being
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Empowerment and growth
  • Trust and transparency

Health, safety, and overall well-being are key tenets of people sustainability and the primary components of an employee benefits program. Not surprisingly, these tenets are also the bottom two segments (physiological and safety) of Maslow’s well-known hierarchy of human needs. Companies that want to ensure they are directing efforts towards overall people sustainability need to make sure that these essential needs are met, if not exceeded. While it is key to sustainability to offer competitive employee benefits, it also helps position an employer as attractive in the market when competing for scarce talent.

What makes a competitive benefits program?

A number of attributes contribute towards making benefits programs a success:

  • Include benefits that employees value most highly
  • Offer an easy-to-use and engaging enrollment process
  • Provide employees with tools to help them decide what programs are best for them and their families
  • Partner with employees to advance the cause of wellness
  • Help employees manage costs associated with benefits

Gaining an understanding of what benefits employees’ value most highly will likely require reaching out to the workforce and gathering insights through bidirectional communications and surveys. The key to success is regular, ongoing communication between employer and employees.

Digital transformation featuring the application of artificial intelligence can help employers put together personalized benefits plans on behalf of their employees. By leveraging the powerful combination of extensive data together with AI, employers can proactively assess their workers’ unique needs and turn that information into personalized benefits selections that guide employees to enroll in benefits that will best meet their needs.

Wellness does not end with health-related wellness. Now more than ever before, with skyrocketing inflation and high prices, workers also need help to manage their financial wellness. Employees face challenges with retirement planning, tuition debt, debt refinancing, and more. Financial wellness solutions that provide coaching or education about spending, saving, borrowing, and planning are becoming a requirement for empathetic employers.

At this time of high degrees of job abandonment, “quiet quitting,” and a deficit of talent to fill vacancies, it has become critical for employers to be well-positioned both to retain and attract talent. Employers need to ensure that their overall compensation and benefits programs appear as “green” as the lawn next door.

Sponsor Call-to-Action 

To learn more about how SAP U.S. Benefits Administration by Benefitfocus can help proactively engage and support your workforce, please visit our website.

About Lisa

Lisa Rowan is Research Vice President for IDC responsible for global research on human capital and talent management software and services. Ms. Rowan provides expert analysis focused on both the business services and software used to address HR and talent-related dimensions. Her research addresses developments in human capital and talent management applications, human resources consulting, and HR outsourcing services.

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