More remote work

Only 2 in 10 employees who can do their jobs remotely are working full-time onsite.1 While this is a dramatic shift in the way many employers used to do business, an increase in remote work is in line with existing workplace trends from before the pandemic. One study found that US job postings that offer some remote work tripled from 2019 to 2022 and the trend could continue, now that employers are realizing how many jobs can be performed from home: some research estimates that 70+ million employees in the US could perform their jobs remotely.2,3

Having the flexibility to work from home is a great option for all workers but could be especially helpful in making workplaces more inclusive for workers with disabilities. Unlike the majority of US workers, workers with permanent disabilities showed improved well-being during the pandemic, largely in part due to increased flexibility and remote work. Making remote work a permanent provision for employees could dramatically increase the number of jobs open to disabled workers.

Better work-life balance

With so many parents juggling their own workload while full-time parenting or caretaking during the pandemic , work-life balance is more important than ever. Employers who can let parents work from home, work on flexible schedules, or otherwise find the right balance between caregiving and work may now see the value in offering more flexibility to employees going forward. More than half of workers (57%) rank paid time off to care for a relative who was ill as a top benefit offered by a prospective employer.4

This could be especially helpful for parents who struggle to pay for childcare or who have limited childcare options, and for caregivers who look after ill or disabled family members with little outside support. One in 5 US employers took an extended leave of absence in the last two years to take care of themselves or a family member, pointing to the growing need for enhanced leave and flexibility.5

If employers made current accommodations permanent for the employees who need them most, these gaps could begin to close. Caregivers report spending more than a quarter of their annual income on caregiving and related expenses. Having the flexibility of remote work or paid leave could help offset some of the negative financial impacts that caregivers face.6

Expanded access to paid leave

Employers are now more aware than ever of the dangers of employees coming to work sick, and the economic toll for employees who get sick without paid sick days. That’s why the Families First Coronavirus Response Act included expanded access to paid leave for employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees, including paid family leave for employees who need to care for a sick relative. And extended leave may be here to stay: 3 in 4 employers adjusted their unpaid leave policies to paid during COVID-19.7

Offering paid leave has the potential to help improve workplace safety and is especially helpful for caregivers who may need to take leave to care for a family member even when current public health conditions subside.

Mental health as a workplace priority

Prior to the pandemic, mental health was a growing problem in the workplace. In 2022, more than 6 in 10 US workers report that in the past two years, they or someone in their households have experienced depression or anxiety.8 Moreover, 27% of employees don’t get the help they need for mental health problems.9 And employers have a way to help  when it comes to meeting the pressing need for mental health resources. Seven in 10 employers report that they address employees’ emotional health extremely well, however, less than half of employees rate their company’s mental health benefits as very good or excellent.10

Caregivers are also more likely to experience mental health issues than non-caregivers, which demonstrates how mental wellness benefits can especially make a difference for segments that are already under pressure.11

Employers are beginning to prioritize improving their mental and emotional health benefits. Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) of employers list addressing workforce mental health as a top priority.12

Try these tips to help support your employees’ mental health.

Support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion

Employees today value corporate cultures that are inclusive, support diversity, and encourage empathy. Employees who work for organizations with those traits generally report 70% higher we-being.13 They are also 25% less likely to experience anxiety and depression than workers whose employers do not support inclusivity, diversity, or encourage empathy.14 Companies can offer support for their employees by developing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and by building diversity initiatives into their recruitment, hiring, and onboarding practices. Building employee resource groups (ERGs) can also help support communities and promote awareness, allyship, and offer resources for employees.

And an inclusive corporate culture is even more important for younger workers. Generation Z workers are nearly twice as likely to say they’d want to work for or stay at a company that promotes a positive impact on society than members of Generation X or baby boomers.15

Employers and employees alike are experiencing a monumental transition in the expectations and needs from work. Employers can use what we learn from this experience to create more inclusive, empathetic, and supportive workplaces for all employees, and to be better prepared to weather any future disruptions to the way we work.

Discover more insights about the state of work today in our report, New era, new values.

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1 Wigert, Ben and Agrawal, Sangeeta, “Returning to the Office: The Current, Preferred and Future State of Remote Work,” Gallup, August 31, 2022

2 Courtney, Emily, “Remote Work Stats & Trends: Navigating Work From Home Jobs,” 2022

3 Wigert, Ben and Agrawal, Sangeeta, “Returning to the Office: The Current, Preferred and Future State of Remote Work,” Gallup, August 31, 2022

4 Guardian Life Insurance, New era, new values, 2022

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Caregiving: A public health priority, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed July 2022

12 Guardian Life Insurance, New era, new values, 2022

13 Guardian’s Workforce Well-being Index™ is based on self-reported physical, emotional, and financial health and is a component of the Workplace Benefits Study.

14 Guardian Life Insurance, New era, new values, 2022

15 Ibid.

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed reliable, please note that individual situations can vary, therefore the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice. Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof. © 2022, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.

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