Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Well-Being Benefits Can Stem The Great Resignation

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EDITORS' PICK|09:09am EST|6916 views

The Future Of Work: Offering Employee Well-Being Benefits Can Stem The Great Resignation

Jeanne Meister
Listen to article9 minutes

The Great Resignation is getting greater. Employers around the country are seeking to fill a near record high 11 million job openings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ analysis of what it calls “quits”, roughly 3.4% of workers quit their jobs in November 2021, compared with 2.7% in same period a year ago.

While raising wages is one way to attract and retain employees, research conducted by Paychex and Future Workplace among 603 full-time workers during November, 2021 found well-being benefits to be a key criterion when applying for a new job. These well-being benefits probed in the study range from financial, mental/emotional, social, physical, and career well-being (shown in Figure 1).

Key Findings: How Employee Well-being Benefits Are Increasing in Importance

Finding #1: Six in Ten Employees Say Well-Being Benefits Will Be a Top Priority When Applying for Their Next Job

Sixty-two percent of employees surveyed identified employee well-being as a key deciding factor when applying for a new job (shown in Figure 2). This was especially true for Gen-Z, where 67% strongly agree or agree that well-being benefits will be a priority for them in evaluating new job offers. Interestingly, we found almost half of employees feel their current company prioritizes their overall well-being, however, in examining this finding by generation, the research finds fewer Boomers (30%) felt their company prioritizes their well-being compared to Gen-X (48%), Millennials (50%), and Gen-Z (55%). Companies should evaluate the type of well-being benefits that appeal to each generation of worker and communicate to prospective and current workers.

Finding #2: Financial and Mental Health Well-being Are the Highest Priorities for Employees

How companies manage employee well-being in the coming years will significantly impact their retention and productivity. Nearly one-third of respondents rated financial wellness as the area they are struggling with most and 24% of our research sample ranked mental and emotional well-being as their key area of concern. Financial well-being was more of an issue for Gen-X (32%) as they reported they were more likely to struggle with their financial well-being than Gen-Z (19%). Gen-X, often called the Sandwich generation, are juggling financial commitments for both their children and aging parents. The areas of financial well-being included in the research were; overall compensation, retirement plan, and the ability to access financial wellness and education programs. Figure 3 shows the research results with call outs for some findings by generation.

Finding #3: Additional Paid Time Off, Mental Health Support, Adequate Staff, Better Health Insurance and Financial Wellness Training Were the Top Well-being Benefits Identified by Employees

When employees were surveyed on what their employer could do to improve their overall well-being, in addition to additional paid time off, the top benefits identified were fairly evenly ranked as: improved mental health support (29%), adequate staffing (28%), better health insurance (28%), and financial wellness training (27%).

After nearly 20 months of the pandemic, adults continue to struggle with increased stress levels related to their mental health and financial well-being. A recent COVID Resilience Survey conducted among 3,035 adults for the American Psychological Association found nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) agreed that uncertainty about the next few months will likely cause them stress, and around half (49%) went further to say that the coronavirus pandemic makes planning for their future feel impossible.

How to Make Employee Well-being a Priority at Your Company

Too often, leaders fall into a well-being "perks and policies" trap, wondering why their people are burned out and stressed despite access to the latest benefits like company provided standing desks or virtual exercise programs. Many organizations lose sight of the biggest issues surrounding employee well-being, namely the day-to-day employee experience.  Organizations can transform employee well-being by building a culture of care, promoting work life integration, and ensuring inclusivity is built into the fabric of the organization, whether employees work onsite, remote or in a hybrid work environment.

Here are four ways leaders can better make the connection between well-being benefits, employee recruitment, and retention.

1. Build a culture of care and communicate your company’s well-being benefits as a way to stem the Great Resignation

Our survey found that well-being benefits were a key criterion in applying for a new job regardless of the work environment (remote, in-person, or hybrid) of the employee. While overall employee well-being appears to be rebounding after a slump at the height of the pandemic, workers now expect support for their mental, physical, and financial well-being as part of their benefits package. It is clear the total rewards package starts with compensation and health benefits but also needs to include a holistic package of employee well-being benefits, including financial and mental health benefits. This needs to be clearly communicated to prospective and current employees, with how to easily access these enhanced well-being benefits.

2. Understand the importance of financial wellness benefits and be clear about what your company offers

The 2021 PwC Financial Wellness survey revealed that 72% of employees report being stressed about their finances and would leave for another company that demonstrates how they care about their employees’ financial well-being. Our survey reinforces this and found that employees surveyed reported easy access to financial wellness education and training would ease their overall well-being.

3. Explore what can be done in your company to de-stigmatize mental illness

As disruptions from the pandemic continue, more workers are reporting symptoms of prolonged and acute stress. One in five workers said their mental health is worse than it was this time last year, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Employers can start to support the mental health of their workers by embedding mental health awareness into the culture - from leader communications, manager conversations with team members, and Employee Resource Programs (ERGs). Specifically, leaders should ask themselves, does their culture de-stigmatize mental health? If yes, how? If no, what actions can help change the culture? Do managers show that they care about the mental health and well-being of their team members? What specific actions do they take? And finally, when employees feel stressed, do they know where to turn for assistance? Do they understand their mental health benefits? Communicating health insurance and employee assistance programs are key vehicles to easing mental stress post-pandemic.

4. Take a regular pulse of your employee well-being benefits and identify the ones that matter most to each employee segment.

While some companies have already moved away from one-size-fits-all benefit solutions, many more must create a personalized approach to benefits. Companies can start this process by conducting regular surveys and segmenting the data by groups such as generation, work environment (in-person, remote, or hybrid), or gender to identify where there might be benefit gaps and opportunities. The goal needs to be creating an inclusive well-being benefits package that meets the needs of all segments of workers.

Employers have always known that job candidates evaluate all aspects of a new job, beyond the actual work, but now, candidates report they expect a total rewards package to include well-being benefits. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 40% of employers updated their health plans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to expand access to mental health services and increase the ways in which workers can get mental health services, including tele-health access.

Building a culture of care and communicating this by providing a full range of employee well-being benefits is becoming table stakes to attract and retain workers and stem the Great Resignation.

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I am Executive Vice President with Executive Networks, and the Founder of the Future Workplace Academy, providing access to peer networks for continuous learning and research on the future of working and learning. I am passionate about working with companies to enhance their employee experience and create compelling ways all employees to have an experience at work that mirrors their best consumer experience. Senior Contributor @Forbes.

Great Stock Picks For 2022


DAILY COVER|06:00am EST|62 362 views

10 Great Stock Picks For 2022 From Top-Performing Fund Managers

Sergei Klebnikov

The stock market had another great year despite fears over surging inflation and concerns about the coronavirus pandemic hindering an economic recovery. The S&P 500 is up 25% so far and continues to hit record highs. 

Equity markets could see a more challenging year in 2022 with inflation at a nearly 40-year high and the Fed cutting back on its easy monetary policy while increasing rates. Ongoing supply and demand imbalances—exacerbated by the emergence of the new omicron variant—have also continued to complicate the economic recovery. While many Wall Street analysts are forecasting a positive 2022, investors should expect returns to be well below previous years.

We queried Morningstar to identify some of the top-performing fund managers, all of whom consistently beat their benchmarks on a longer-term basis over either a three-year, five-year or ten-year period. Forbes spoke with five top portfolio managers overseeing nearly $25 billion in assets. Here are their best stock ideas for the coming year.

John W. Rogers, Jr.

Ariel Fund: Flagship value fund, primarily focused on small- to mid-sized companies.

2021 return: 25.7%, 10-year average annual return: 14.4%

ViacomCBS (VIAC)

Rogers likes media and entertainment giant ViacomCBS, which is among the cheapest holdings in the Ariel Fund today. While the stock has been “going nowhere for quite a bit of time,” falling over 20% in 2021, he sees great value in the company going into next year. ViacomCBS has a “broader set of content that many of its competitors simply don’t have,” he says, including the likes of streaming service Paramount+, CBS-affiliated stations, Showtime and Pluto TV. With the company making large investments in streaming, Rogers especially likes Paramount+ and is keeping a close eye on the platform’s subscriber growth. While the stock peaked at nearly $100 per share earlier this year, it has slumped during the second half of 2021—with Ariel steadily building up a position during that time.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE)

The Ariel Fund’s cheapest and largest holding currently is Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which sells at over a 50% discount to private market value, according to Rogers. Beyond owning New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, the company has other assets that are not being priced in by the market, including the Rockettes and Radio City, the regional sports network that broadcasts the Knicks and the Rangers and several premium hospitality groups. What Rogers is most excited about is the MSG Sphere, the company’s new arena in Las Vegas which is scheduled to open in 2023. “This will be a big big deal—there will be nothing like it in the world,” he says, adding that if MSGE pull this off, it could franchise the model and build similar venues in other parts of the world including London or Hong Kong. Going into next year, Rogers is watching the naming rights for the Vegas Sphere: “You could just see a hot tech company getting naming rights, which is bound to be a huge deal.” The stock has been a poor performer in 2021, however, falling over 37% amid concerns about rising coronavirus cases potentially leading to another shut down of live events.

Amy Zhang

Alger Mid-Cap Focus Fund: Focused portfolio of around 50 mid-size companies.

2021 return: 6%, Average annual return since inception (2019): 31.4%

Signature Bank (SBNY)

Zhang likes this New York-based commercial bank, which is set to benefit “not only from a cyclical recovery boost but also exposure to the early innings of a more secular crypto economy.” Signature Bank, which builds “premier relationships” with clients using a unique “single point of contact” and customer-centric approach, has seen massive deposit growth in recent years. With a favorable backdrop for banks next year amid a rising interest rate environment, that should provide a boost to earnings, Zhang predicts. Even as shares rose nearly 120% in 2021, valuations still remain compelling, with Signature Bank trading at a discount to and growing faster than many of its peers. While the bank’s core business remains solid, another “exciting growth engine” is its Signet digital payments platform, a real-time exchange which leverages blockchain technology and gives clients exposure to cryptocurrency. “We think there is even more upside ahead next year—it’s not a really well known story yet and future growth hasn’t been fully priced in,” Zhang says.

SiteOne Landscape Supply (SITE)

Zhang also likes “long-term compounder” SiteOne Landscape Supply, which is the largest nationwide wholesale distributor of its kind in North America. Even though “inflation is front and center” in the current environment, SiteOne has largely offset pressures thanks to its large scale and position as a “dominant market leader,” Zhang says. As the main consolidator and leading distributor in the landscaping supply industry—with a strong track record of M&A—the company has solid pricing power that allows it to continue to grow margins. SiteOne currently has around 13% market share—but that could grow to as much as 50% over the next few years amid strong revenue growth, Zhang predicts. Another positive trend is that the company can benefit from the secular trend of outdoor living, which has been accelerated by the pandemic with the hybrid working model that's “here to stay,” she adds.

Kirsty Gibson

Baillie Gifford U.S. Equity Growth Fund: Concentrated portfolio of growth companies.

2021 return: -4%, 3-year average annual return: 50.4%

Snap (SNAP)

One of the fund’s more recent additions—from early 2021—is social media platform Snap, which is immensely popular with young teens. While most of the company’s revenue comes from advertising, Snap is slowly transitioning into becoming an augmented reality company, which could potentially lead to a “much more lucrative business model” over the next five to ten years, Gibson predicts. She is particularly excited about the Camera Kit, which makes Snap’s augmented reality camera tools available to any developer to use on their own apps. That potentially opens up a “new avenue of revenue” for Snap as they could help power augmented reality infrastructure for apps outside of their traditional ecosystem, Gibson says. Despite shares falling nearly 10% in 2021, “a lot of Snap’s recent struggles were short-term headwinds, as opposed to fundamental challenges to their business,” Gibson points out. User growth and new product innovation are on the “right trajectory,” she insists. “It’s about weathering external factors in the short-term.”

Affirm (AFRM)

Baillie Gifford’s U.S. Equity Growth fund also bought shares of fintech company Affirm after its January IPO. Affirm, shares of which rose just over 2% this year, operates as a financial lender offering a buy-now-pay-later product that allows customers to pay for items in installments. With Affirm choosing to “focus on the customer rather than profit from their challenges,” this special “merchant-consumer relationship” is a good example of using the right data to build trust with consumers, Gibson says. Collectively, the company already has partnerships representing nearly 60% of U.S. e-commerce including big retailers like Walmart, Shopify and Amazon. Affirm also recently released its Debit+ card, which combines the benefits of a traditional debit card with its buy-now pay-later model. Unlike a traditional bank, it has more data on individuals and the purchases, which allows the company to offer more inclusive products and “redefine what financial services should be,” Gibson says. With the opportunity to launch more banking products in coming years, “consumers will like the bundle they’re creating,” she predicts.

Nancy Zevenbergen

Zevenbergen Growth Fund: Large-cap consumer and tech companies.

2021 return: -12.5%, 5-year average annual return: 37.7%

Silvergate Capital (SI)

Zevenbergen likes this Fed-regulated bank, which has the highest number of cryptocurrency customers in the U.S., as “a way to participate in the emerging crypto marketplace.” Silvergate Capital has over 1,300 clients including Square and and Coinbase on its Silvergate Exchange Network, which allows crypto exchanges and institutional investors to transact 24/7. She first bought the stock, shares of which have jumped 111% in 2021—earlier this year and has been adding to it since, remaining bullish on the company’s planned joint crypto venture with Meta, formerly known as Facebook. The bank pays no interest on deposits—so with the Fed looking to raise interest rates next year, that should boost Silvergate’s earnings, Zevenbergen predicts. Going into 2022, she’s closely watching for “further institutional adoption of crypto” and whether Silvergate expands outside of U.S.-based stablecoins. “The regulatory part of this equation is difficult and takes time,” she says. “It’s obviously still early, but corporate America is looking at this whole space and Silver Gate is well positioned to facilitate that.” 

Snowflake (SNOW)

Another company that Zevenbergen predicts will have revenue growth of more than 50% is data warehousing and management company Snowflake. She first bought shares of the company after its IPO in September 2020, steadily adding to the position since then during corrections. “Data is the new oil as far as an asset,” Zevenbergen describes, “the need for corporate America—all industries—to gather, maintain and manage their data is ever growing.” What’s more, Snowflake “came to the market in a unique way” with a consumption-based rather than software-as-a-service model, which appears to be the trend that most companies are now going in, she describes. As businesses everywhere continue to go digital, Snowflake is well positioned to benefit as it helps companies gather and understand data. While shares rose 19% in 2021, Zevenbergen predicts that the company will continue to sign new deals and build relationships with existing clients, which should help Snowflake deliver solid earnings and revenue growth in 2022 and beyond.

Leon Cooperman

Omega Advisors: Shut down in 2018, now runs a family office

Average annual return since inception (through 2018): 12%

Paramount Resources (PRMRF)

Cooperman sees enormous value in Canadian oil and gas company Paramount Resources, shares of which already surged 328% in 2021. He first started buying the stock at the beginning of the year, on the basis that supply and demand for the energy sector would remain strong. Paramount now has a market value of just over $2 billion, with revenue and profits bouncing back strongly since oil prices sank amid pandemic lockdowns in mid-2020. The company, which was founded by Canadian oil baron Clayton Riddell, has solid reserves and a strong management team, Cooperman says. He also especially likes the fact that Paramount tripled its annual dividend and has a stock buyback in place. Predicting that oil supply and demand will remain tight going into next year, Cooperman sees more gains ahead in 2022.

Mirion Technologies (MIR)

Another of Cooperman’s newer favorites is Mirion Technologies, a global provider of radiation detection and measurement solutions. The company partnered with Goldman Sachs, which has a large stake, to go public via SPAC deal in June 2021, with shares rising nearly 5% since then. Cooperman calls Mirion a “high-quality business” with a strong management team that should deliver mid- to high-single digit revenue growth over the coming years. Cooperman, who argues that Mirion trades at a 40% discount to its peers, bought shares when the company first went public and has been steadily adding to his position since. He sees nothing but upside ahead, given that the company delivers its detection solutions to nuclear, defense, medical and research end markets—all of which are growing sectors, Cooperman points out.

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I am a senior reporter at Forbes covering markets and business news. Previously, I worked on the wealth team at Forbes covering billionaire and their wealth. Before that, I wrote about investing for Money Magazine. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at sklebnikov@forbes.com