While debate still continues about the productivity level of employees during the pandemic, when looking strictly at the lost number of hours during this time, the picture becomes more clear.
The Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), a non-profit research and educational organization focused on workforce health and productivity, analyzed data from the US Current Population Survey to estimate the number of lost hours attributed to the pandemic, and the cost associated with the loss of work hours.
The cost associated with the loss of work hours is $213.1 billion ($167.4 billion in the first year and $45.7 billion in the second year).
And the number of lost hours attributed to the pandemic was 6.6 billion hours (5.2 billion in the first year and 1.4 billion in the second year).
Looking at specific industries, the industries that had the greatest losses were:
- Educational services, health care, and social assistance ($30.8 billion)
- Public administration ($27.1 billion)
- Construction ($23.9 billion)
- Waste management services ($22.4 billion)
- Manufacturing ($21.5 billion).
While the effects of the pandemic can't be reversed, the workplace has changed permanently in a number of ways so IBI spoke to 1,800 employers about how to see how they are adapting and they offered these insights:
Communication is a key element
Leadership must think differently about how they show up, communicate, and interact with employees. Honesty and transparency are the most important part of promoting trust. Communicate broadly and often through multiple channels.
Trust, safety, and inclusion have heightened importance
Employees' sense of security can be strengthened by comprehensive programs that include financial education and well-being and leave of absence benefit offerings to meet employee needs.
Employee well-being and productivity may need stabilization
Benefits and HR professionals can provide a reliable and sustainable business case for investments in workforce health and productivity. Employers have long considered the health of the workforce primarily from the perspective of managing health costs. By treating the health and well-being of the workforce as a strategic asset in a company's value-added process, employers can create a high-performance workforce.
The basics, such as preventative screening and well visits, are still valuable
To avoid expensive events, engage employees before their conditions deteriorate. There are now options such as home screenings and on-site services available to offer employees. Develop communication plans to raise employees' awareness of the benefits of regular preventive checks and highlight options and costs available.