HRE’s number of the day: wellbeing focus

42: Percentage of employers who say their top priority is staying healthy and/or preventing employees from becoming sick.

More than four in 10 business leaders say their biggest priority is trying to keep employees healthy during the pandemic, according to a survey of some 500 company leaders from Principal Financial Group. Meanwhile, about one-third (32%) say they’re prioritizing supporting their employees both emotionally and mentally during this time.

What it means to HR leaders

The data is the latest to indicate the emphasis being placed on employee health and wellbeing during COVID-19.

“The global pandemic has brought front-and-center the importance of physical and mental health and how quickly either or both can be taken away,” says Kara Hoogensen, senior vice president of specialty benefits at Principal Financial Group.

Principal’s research shows that employers are investing in their employees’ health in a variety of ways, from increasing sanitation and cleaning practices and changing benefit programs based on employees’ needs to offering more remote work options and allowing additional scheduling flexibility to manage work and life responsibilities. “These are just a few tangible ways employers are demonstrating their commitment to their employees–and, ultimately, investing in their business–as a way to help keep employees physically and mentally healthy,” Hoogensen says.

Related: Mental health numbers ‘going in the wrong direction’

Hoogensen says she anticipates that employers will continue to prioritize employee health and wellbeing throughout 2021 and beyond. Principal’s research found that over the next 12 months, 19% of employers have plans to increase healthcare benefits and medical insurance, while 17% have plans to increase mental health and wellbeing programs to support their employees.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.