Why the Great Resignation Impacts Labor Benefits So Much

 Who would have thought that a pandemic would end up triggering a seller's market when it comes to hiring talent? That definitely was not what anyone expected when COVID was first identified. Wellman Shew, the owner of Shew & Company Insurance Services Inc., was as surprised as any at what ended up happening, however. Like so many other things in life that have changed since those early days in 2020, hiring is far more challenging as a result of the Great Resignation, a social phenomenon involving significant numbers of older workers retiring early or changing careers in 2021, sapping key talent areas across the economy, regardless of industry.

Why the Great Resignation Impacts Labor Benefits So Much

A Sudden Unexpected Blip

Shew notes from experience working in benefits administration that generational movements in and out of the workforce are expected every ten or so years. However, when variances occur, such as what happened with COVID forcing physical distancing and a high number of people realizing there were other options for how they could do work remotely or on different career paths, it can create disruptions that suddenly unbalance the labor market. That is what occurred in 2021.

As a result, Wellman Shew notes, companies are now trying to come back online closer to what they had with a complete staff presence in the office and are realizing they have severe shortages. People aren't coming back. In fact, they are outright quitting. And those remaining who are willing to do the work need better attractions than a simple paycheck. This is where labor benefits matter so much.

Standing Out With a Difference

Whether salary-driven or fringe benefits, Wellman Shew explains that alternative forms of compensation can create attractions that influence candidates to pick one employer over another. Given the shortage in skilled talent that is so apparent in 2022, the more benefits a company can offer in a variety of forms, the likelier they are to attract and bring in critical hires. Further, he points out that simply offering traditional benefits is no longer enough. Everybody can offer health coverage and retirement. What new hires are looking for in addition to those elements are work-life balance/flexibility, additional education options, travel, different work team paradigms, community-oriented aspects in the office such as social activities, certifications, pet tolerance, and a whole lot more. While no one company can offer everything, Wellman Shew recommends it's definitely worth the time to look into exactly what the latest hires in an industry are asking for and cater to those needs specifically. Not only will candidates be far more receptive, they now often choose a company over benefits versus simply higher pay elsewhere.

The Great Change is Permanent

Going forward, Wellman Shew expects that the most successful companies will more often than not be those that provide a portfolio of benefits versus just a simple generic package. There will be holdouts hoping that simply offering higher levels of compensation will be enough. However, the fundamental expectations of workers have changed. As new generations come in with higher expectations of alternatives, he expects even those resisting will have to adjust eventually to be competitive.

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