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Let’s start off on the right foot

"I am strong. I am powerful. You have such an amazing and vibrant culture. You should just be proud of who you are. Be proud of where you come from." —Kriti Sarav


 

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The skinny

Student loan debt is negatively affecting employees both financially and emotionally, causing turnover, delayed milestones, and overall hopelessness for the future.

Yikes…

Yeah, a little crisis-y. U.S. student loan debt reached a staggering $1.7 trillion at the end of 2020, and it’s not stopping there. Think blueberry girl in Willy Wonka, but worse. Come to think about it, when there’s trillion involved, no metaphor is needed.  

A lot of pomp and bad circumstances.

You got that right. Sixty-five percent of college educated adults have student loan debt, owing an average of $39,351. That amount can have a real crushing effect on one’s mental health and future plans.  

It’s a cycle.

Indeed. Financial stressors impact your mental health, and in turn, when someone is struggling with mental health concerns, finances become harder to manage. This type of sitch is a double taboo in the workplace. When people feel financially uncertain, they feel shame and often will not seek help or speak up.   

You said double taboo?

Yes, minding your “workplace manners” means not talking about finances at work. But employers have the opportunity to change the stigma about talking about financial hardship and mental health in the workplace by providing education, resources, and above all crafting benefits that can minimize financial burdens and the cost of care.

Cost of care is steep.

You’re not wrong. The cost of care is one of the main inhibitors for employees who need help, and for good reason, that sh*t’s expensive. The employers who pivot and provide financial and mental health benefits at low to no cost can help alleviate a lot of the stress and take away some of the barriers that prohibit actually focusing on work, life, and everything in between.

Why?

Shreking responsibility? It’s critical for employers to recognize when employees are struggling–financial wellness and mental health are linked; you can’t expect someone to bring their whole selves to work and be productive when they are struggling to pay bills, buy groceries, or pay rent.

Date with data: 70% of employees agree that they need their employer’s help to ensure they are healthy and financially secure.  

Double date: 60% of employees say it’s their employer’s responsibility to extend financial help.

Totes quotes: "For businesses to offer student loan assistance is a no brainer. Benefits like this can reduce employee turnover, reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and thus positively impact the company’s bottom line.” —Greg Poulin, CEO of Goodly  

Further reading: Student loan benefits highlight the workplace diversity gap.


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The skinny

White-collar employees are taking working vacations while they can, and hoping the trend sticks post-pandemic.

Oh, you mean vacci-cations?

Vaxed and waxed is the #themeof2021. This summer presents an unusual/amazing opportunity for folks. It’s sandwiched between vaccine availability and offices reopening, giving many the opportunity to get out of Dodge for a bit. Plus, many Airbnbs and destination hotels have upped their WiFi game to appeal to more office workers who can #workfromanywhere.

Beach background, but IRL.

Exactly. We’ve all pretended for so long with the fake palms, and many are swapping for the real thing, moving their remote offices to the beach, and thinking about what the post-COVID-19 work/life balance should look like.

What should it look like?

That depends. Many offices are opting for a hybrid workplace policy. Others are opting into all-remote or all-office strategies. But with many employees threatening to quit, most employers are aware that they need to up the ante when it comes to flexibility if they want to keep employees around.  

What do you mean?

2020 brought many disasters for sure, but increased flexibility for workers is one positive thing that won’t likely be forgotten. Many organizations are getting creative in offering more flexibility-focused benefits. For example, Google is giving its employees four weeks of “work from anywhere” time. Another financial start-up will allow its workers two months to a year to do the same.

Digital nomad!

Well, hate to break it to you but digital nomads aren’t new. In fact, those geriatric Millennials have been parading around on Instagram, coding from a balcony in France or sending emails from a hammock in Costa Rica for years.

Pshhhh.

Yup, it’s true. Where before, that lifestyle seemed annoyingly/painfully unattainable, now, many have seen the light, or should I say, the sun. But the mad rush to book a work-cation before the big “re-opening” should cause employers some concern.

Thought vacash was a good thing?

It is, but dig a little deeper. Employees rushing to book a work-cation now, “before” that flexibility window shuts, is an indication that they are afraid of, and dreading, the “before.” Meaning, they fear the idea that they might go back to a structure that just didn’t make sense to them.  

Punch in/punch out.

Punch me. Although many employers are getting hip to the know when it comes to flexibility, many are still holding on to the old idea of work–measuring success by how long someone works vs. their work product. Until this idea fades, there are going to be some major growing/groaning pains when it comes to transitioning to a new phase of normal.  

Totes quotes: “The discomfort today that managers have or organizations have is because we’re not holding people accountable to the actual work, we’re holding them accountable to the time clock.” —Jody Thompson, CEO of CultureRx

Totes two: “We’re a creative business and people have to refill the well. You can’t be creative on-demand all the time, you have to get back in touch with your muse.” —Martin Hamburger, Founder of Hamburger Group Creative

Further reading: Burnout: modern affliction or human condition

Challenge: Need a reset?


 

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The skinny

New study shows that amplifying others' opinions in a group setting was consistently the most beneficial behavior for both leaders and employees.

Amp it up!

That’s the spirit. Amplifying others requires no new ideas or complicated decision making, and is a very low risk, easy strategy that can be used to help yourself and others.  

Win/win?

Yes, surprisingly if one person amplifies another, both peoples’ statuses were shown to increase in the group.

Collaboration station.

Hop on board! As employers grapple with the challenges brought to the workplace by a tumultuous year, a focus on inclusion and collaboration could help employers keep their employees on board. 

Totes quotes: “Inclusion is the goal, diversity is the outcome. The thing that drives engagement, retention, and performance is a feeling of belonging.” —Josh Bersin, author, HR & Learning analyst

Further reading: 4 tips to prevent great ideas from dying on the vine.


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