Calling in backup: Helping HR address emerging workplace trends

Calling in backup: Helping HR address emerging workplace trends

As the number of remote, gig and part-time workers increases, accommodating these nontraditional employees becomes more challenging.

Complex employee needs — such as those experienced by remote workers and “gig” economy workers (such as project or contract workers) — are beginning to throw HR managers for a loop. At the same time, a booming economy and strong job market mean employees are, perhaps, more likely to feel emboldened to move on to another company if their needs are not being met.

Fortunately, one solution to help support these workers is having a robust disability management program in place. How can you help HR managers choose a disability management program that satisfies some of their ever-changing needs?

Supporting the invisible worker

As the number of remote workers, gig workers and part-time workers continues to increase, accommodating these nontraditional employees remains a challenge for employers. Recently, we conducted research that showed only 38 percent of HR managers felt ready to support remote workers. At the same time, just 16 percent felt ready to address part-time employees and gig workers.

Related: How to create a policy that supports remote workers’ needs

This makes sense — most employers consider more readily the immediate needs employees have, such as medical care, which are what traditional benefits plans are designed to address. But how do employers provide additional assistance for the nearly 4 million Americans who work remotely?

Research points to a robust disability management approach. Programs that provide individualized care through return-to-work support can actually create the conditions remote and part-time workers need to successfully bring them back into their designated work-spaces.

Adapting to changing needs

In addition to being wary about supporting remote workers, HR managers feel unprepared to support other changing needs. Our research found that just 27 percent of HR decisionmakers felt ready to support family and elder care issues, and just 25 percent felt ready to support drug addiction.1 Additionally, fewer than half of employers surveyed felt confident in helping to accommodate employees with chronic health conditions, including mental health and musculoskeletal conditions; although, at the same time, half of respondents received requests to do so annually.

Failing to address these needs can have disastrous effects. In addition to poor work performance and increased employee absence, workers are increasingly looking for solutions — sometimes elsewhere. In an employee-favored job market, many high-value employees are likely to take their talent elsewhere, leaving critical positions open because of lagging benefits. Addressing these rising trends will be a top priority for HR managers looking to keep quality employees and provide them with the support they need to remain in their positions and effectively contribute to their organizations.

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