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The Future of Work Around the World

Jun 13, 2022 blog featured image

Work/Life Balance Redefined

Work looks different today than it did just a few years ago. Many aspects of work have changed, from work arrangements to employee expectations. The provocation for these changes may lie in the values employees now place on work/life balance – or life-work integration, rather. We’ve learned that balance was never possible and never will be – hence, the shift from balance to integration. Further, many of us have realized that work doesn’t always have to come before life, nor does it have to define us. There are three areas where life-work integration has been totally redefined.

Work Arrangements

Approximately 80% of employees would like to work at least two days a week from home, but this is old news. The concept of hybrid/remote work has been a topic of conversation for two years now, so what’s new? From the 22 countries surveyed, the data reveals that although 78% of employers around the world have committed to providing flexible hours and hybrid experiences, only 67% of employees agreed they were doing a good job.

Working from anywhere and at any time is becoming the norm, but it may not be enough. Work is continually evolving from sitting in an office every day to cross-country or cross-continental travels with a new view each week. Employers are allowing for flexibility across time zones while employees provide the promise of high-quality and timely work.

Additionally, employers worldwide are beginning to adopt the four-day work week. Specifically, Belgium, the U.K., Scotland, Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and more are working through the kinks to see if this truly is the future of work. Employees are no longer searching for a job they can do from the comfort of their own home five days a week. They are looking for better long-term solutions, and they’re willing to leave their current positions to find them.

Well-Being at Work

Workplace well-being looks drastically different than in years past. Diversity, equity and inclusion, Zoom fatigue, and work-life balance are being discussed more than ever. Employee engagement and well-being have repeatedly been proven to correlate with boosted morale and reduced attrition rates and employers are paying attention.

Mental health support and all of its facets were the top trend for employers in 2021. On-site solutions and one-on-one support fade out as employers attempt to innovate in this hybrid/remote world. New levels of mental health support include telemedicine, virtual stress management support, and mindfulness or meditation tools. Other top well-being trends included flex hours, career development options, financial health assistance and increased PTO.

Time Off Work

It’s not just work that has changed. Time away from work is viewed differently now, and being considered in benefits program design and offerings. The structuring of time off is shifting. Offering paid time off to part-time employees continues to become more commonplace.

Years ago, most companies offered “traditional” paid time off programs. By definition, a traditional paid time off program is one whereby each eligible employee is allocated a certain number of paid days in separate categories, such as vacation, personal, sick etc. Outside of a slight uptick in 2019, traditional programs were going away, being replaced by PTO bank-type programs whereby vacation, personal leave and sick leave is combined into one category of available time off that the employee manages within certain guidelines (WorldatWork Survey, 2019).

Over the years, PTO policies have also begun to look different as they are being adapted to better serve employees’ changing needs. Post-pandemic, there is an overall greater awareness of most employees’ dual roles as workers and caregivers. In the U.S. today, one in six employees is a caregiver for a relative or friend and spends more than 20 hours a week providing some kind of care.

This heightened awareness has provoked state leave legislation leading to paid family and medical leave laws and, more recently, to scores of companies beginning to add paid parental and caregiver leave policies to their core benefit offerings. According to a recent study by The Hartford, 75% of all U.S. employers increased the types of paid time away from work they provide beyond state or federal requirements in the past year (Future of Benefits Study Report, 2021). It is evident that company cultures are adapting to the more open-minded land employee-centric labor market.

“Health and well-being strategies have consistently shared a similar ‘why’ for many employers; they exist to help employees become healthier. It’s the ‘how’ that has changed dramatically over the last 5-10 years as we understand more about what works and what doesn’t work,” says Hylant Health Strategies Practice Leader Maddison Bezdicek. ”We’ve learned we can’t deny that people are more than who they are and what they do at work. If we really want to help people be well, we have to acknowledge they have lives to live outside of work and we have to let them do that so they can live whole, fulfilling lives and come back ready to work and perform at their best.”

As the perspective on what the work week looks like continues to evolve, one thing is certain: life-work integration will never again look like it did just five years ago. Going into the office to work your 9-5 is no longer the norm. Now, employees worldwide are waking up each morning to decide anew what work will look like — and so can you.

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Reach out to your Hylant representative for further information. Don’t have one? Contact us here.The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your employee benefits broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.