To Survive The Competitive Post-Pandemic Labor Market, Employers Must Focus on Well-Being

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By: The Whil Team | Last Updated: Aug 27, 2021

2 minute read

2021 will be a disruptive year for companies as they transition back to the office. And the buzzword that’s on every employee’s mind as they return? Well-being.

Josh Bersin, president and founder of Bersin & Associates, explained how well-being and corporate growth go together in his keynote address at the mental health summit, “Addressing Your Employees’ Professional, Personal & Parenting Needs: Bringing Visibility to the Invisible,” presented by Rethink Benefits and Whil.

Bersin, a recognized expert in corporate HR, said taking care of employees starts with making sure their families are happy and healthy. Employers already spend 31% of all wages on benefits, and that has increased 21% in the last 20 years, according to his presentation.

“What we learned in pandemic is if we don’t give people a sense of well-being, it doesn’t matter how good a leader you are—people won’t respond under too much stress,” he said.
In turn, when people feel good, and their families are well, they perform better. Bersin also emphasized that while the pandemic has heightened discussions about mental health, the issue isn’t new.

“We were talking about burnout and too many e-mails a long time ago… This problem has been brewing for a while,” Bersin said. “Then the pandemic hit, and most companies came to the realization that if they weren’t able to take care of their people, they weren’t going to have a company at all.”

The problem, he said, started with the 2008 financial crisis and the digital revolution, when personal and professional lives began to meld.

When the pandemic hit, the issue of work overload took center stage. Bersin said this shift caused most companies to see the connection between employee well-being and their bottom line. Employee well-being transformed from an office culture consideration into a question of survival. Bersin noted that employee burnout risk reached a two-year high in August.

Keys to success

Success in addressing well-being relies upon what Bersin called a “human-centered” approach to leadership.

“Lead the people—they drive the business forward, rather than lead the business and the people come along for the ride,” he said.

2021 is a year of upheaval in many ways. Bersin said in the coming year businesses should expect that HR will be transformed due to a new war for talent. This workforce disruption is led by the challenges in hiring. The U.S. has created more jobs than it has people to fill them, so recruiting has become difficult and competitive this year.

He explained these challenges to retaining talent:

  • One in five workers voluntarily changed employers in 2020.

  • One in four indicated plans to switch employers in 2021.

  • One in four plan to switch occupations in 2021.


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