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Employee Health May be  Key to Addressing the  'Great Resignation'

Employee Health May be Key to Addressing the 'Great Resignation'

May 16, 2022
Better healthcare options are a top reason employees are looking to leave their jobs.

How to keep workers is something that many companies are trying to figure out. A new survey, Health at Work, from Quest Diagnostics, suggests that better health strategies could keep workers on the job. 

Two-thirds of employees (66%) say they are thinking about changing jobs next year or have begun or recently completed a job change.

Looking at the top reasons employees who were thinking of leaving their jobs gave, 38% said better benefits were a top reason while 36% wanted better healthcare options. Work/life balance was another concern for 36% of those surveyed. And money topped the last at 50%

More than 3 in 4 (78%) of human resources leaders say their organization has been impacted by the "Great Resignation," and 90% believe they will have to improve benefit packages and increase wages. And yet, over seven in ten (72%) human resource leaders surveyed also say it is likely there will be a recession that will impact hiring in the next year. 

"While there has been significant attention on low pay, lack of flexibility, and disrespect at work as main reasons driving the 'Great Resignation,' our findings suggest employee health programs play a major role as well," said Jay G. Wohlgemuth, M.D., senior vice president, R&D and Medical, and Chief Medical Officer, Quest Diagnostics, said in a statement. "Employers are taking extraordinary measures to attract and retain talent, and healthcare benefits, access and affordability are areas of focus they can't afford to overlook to compete for workers."

Health Insurance: Who Should Pay the High Costs? 

Both human resource leaders and employees like agreed that healthcare is too expensive and that the pandemic's effects on health will drive costs even higher. And while large majorities believe that companies should pay for most healthcare costs, just over one-third of employees (35%) and almost half of human resource leaders (46%) say that employees need to pay more.

More than three-quarters (77%) of human resource leaders said they want to lower these costs but say they don't have the tools they need to do that. In fact, 63% feel "overwhelmed about making the best choices for our employees."

Chronic Conditions Now Rival COVID-19 as a Top Concern 

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of human resource leaders express worry that their employees may be sick with chronic illnesses because they haven't had wellness checks during the pandemic.

The concerns appear warranted: Three in five (63%) of employees say they put off routine medical appointments and/or screening over the past two years and about three-quarters (77%) say preventive healthcare is hard to perform during the pandemic.

Other research, including Health Trends studies by Quest Diagnostics, reveal declines in rates of new cancer diagnoses and other diseases during much of the pandemic, likely due to delayed medical care. Early detection and treatment of many chronic illnesses, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, are associated with improved health outcomes.

The report also suggests that employers are increasingly prioritizing mental health, with 84% of human resource leaders expressing concern about their employee's mental health, nearly the same proportion, 85%, who express concern about employees' physical health. 

"Our report highlights the strategic importance of employer-based healthcare strategies that deliver comprehensive mental and physical health benefits," said Cecilia K. McKenney, senior vice president and Chief Human Resources Officer, Quest Diagnostics, in a statement. "Many colleagues are struggling amid the unprecedented healthcare and economic crises caused by COVID-19. By promoting access to interventions that improve mental health, employers not only help at-risk colleagues navigate challenging personal and socioeconomic dynamics—they also elevate their organizations as employers-of-choice."

Health Screening Programs are Essential to Being an Employer of Choice, Despite Some Doubts About Cost Savings

Ninety percent of human resource leaders and 89% of employees believe that health screening programs are essential for a company to be considered an employer of choice that attracts and keeps talent–despite more than 68% of both groups questioning if these programs lower medical costs.  

The survey findings also suggest that at-home screenings and telehealth can expand access to healthcare. Eighty-seven percent of both groups are comfortable with at-home biometric testing, and 76% of employees said if they could do it at home they would have more screenings. However, 66% of human resource leaders and 74% of employees believe that such measures can only complement, but not replace, in-person screenings.

Despite largely favorable perspectives of employer-based health services, more than half of employees (55%) are concerned about their employers being too involved in their healthcare and more than two-thirds (67%) don't want their employers to know the results of their screenings or tests.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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