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  • Glenn Davila

From AI training to college prep: New benefits employees want

Despite widespread layoffs leaving many employees feeling uncertain about their professional futures, the workplace can still be a place to turn to for support. 

Whether it's addressing financial concerns, requesting more help with mental health in the wake of a crisis, or looking for career and college prep for their own kids, employers know benefits matter. 

When it comes to financial support, major employers like IBM are reintroducing pensions and other lifetime income options to help employees prepare for retirement. Given that 86% of employees say they have money stress, according to SoFi, looking for these kinds of solutions shows that employers are invested in their workforce while they're with them, and once they leave, too. 

"Not everybody has the same ability to figure out long-term finances, or even the discipline or the means, and we're asking them to figure out how to make it last for 20 or 30 or 40 years," says Mindy Zatto, founding principal at Strategic Benefits Advisors. "Plan sponsors are starting to see that if employees can't retire because they don't know how long their money will last, we've got an employment issue." 

Employees are also concerned about the impact of AI and other emerging tech, but providing training can get workers up to speed and keep your business ahead of the curve. Learning platform Workera gives employees a way to measure and upskill their AI knowledge in the workplace in an accessible and personalized manner, with a skills assessment and a customized learning plan. 

"It's really hard [for people] to know what they should learn and what's in it for them," says Kian Katanforoosh, founder of Workera. "By creating alignment between business and skills, you can start measuring employees, and that will ensure that whatever learning material you give them is ultimately tied to the projects and business outcomes, which is beneficial for everyone." 

But upskilling alone won't put workers' minds at ease. All this uncertainty has put employees on edge — add in the "cascading collective crises" of the last several years and additional mental health care may be necessary. At R3 Continuum, mental health professionals train in "psychological first aid" so they can support workers through a disaster or trauma in their workplace or community. Many of the same practices can be applied by employers to create a more empathetic work environment. 

"Our specific focus is how to support organizations when a crisis strikes," says Jeff Gorter, VP of crisis response services at R3. "Employees are looking to their workplace as a source of support and employers are also being judged according to their corporate responsibility. Are you responding to these things? Are you offering resources?" 

While employees appreciate individualized support, they also want benefits that serve their kids. Today's employees are asking for more help with the college prep and early career-planning process, a task Empowerly is taking on with their voluntary benefit platform. The educational consulting platform offers a concierge service to families, with counseling support on extracurriculars, course loads and internships. Members also have access to other resources such as webinars and curriculums relevant to the path a child has chosen for themself. 

"Their workforce may be an employer's most valuable asset, but for employees, it's their children," says Jonathan Murray, head of employers for Empowerly. "When you make an effort to provide for families, that's true comprehensive support." 

Source: EBN

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