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Iowa Employer Benefits Study© on ‘Hold’
Plus: The Great Resignation

Iowa Employer Benefits Study©

I have decided to put a ‘hold’ on the Iowa Employer Benefits Study for 2022 and into the indefinite future. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was not helpful to this annual survey, changes in the background research resources that I had relied on for the past two decades have also impacted the long-term viability of pursuing this important survey.

Data Point Research, Inc. (DPR), my trusted research partner for twenty years, no longer offers its excellent survey services. Our history of joint collaboration was immensely important to having both accurate and consistent data when trending benefits and costs in Iowa. I will miss my long-term relationship with Andrew Williams, founder of Data Point Research, but just as importantly, I have been very fortunate to call him a great friend and professional colleague. My best to Andrew!

I also owe a great deal of gratitude to those organizations, consultants and brokers who purchased blocks of the Lindex® benchmarks and studies over the years. Without their support and loyalty, the Iowa Employer Benefits Study would not have been as relevant and successful.

Finally, since 1999, the first year this annual study was performed, over 15,000 Iowa organizations have participated in this random survey process. I am proud that our survey results have provided Iowa employers with reliable, relevant, and customized information that cannot be found anywhere else in Iowa. This comprehensive statistical review of Iowa employee benefits has been a key resource for Iowa employers and policy makers. I am very thankful to the Iowa organizations that have taken the time to dutifully respond to this survey. Without their annual assistance, this study would not have been possible.

Although this study has been put on hold, future assessments are certainly possible.

The Great Resignation

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September alone (4.3 million in August). In fact, according to data from the people analytics firm Visier, at least one in four people quit their jobs in 2021. A PwC survey indicates that 65 percent of people were looking for a new job as of August.

Since experiencing work place changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are now expressing their work culture and location preferences and finding opportunities elsewhere. This has become a big wake-up call to organizations in Iowa and around the country – its a phenomenon known as the GREAT RESIGNATION of 2021.

Without question, employee benefits are extremely important when attracting qualified employees. But employee retention requires adhesive steps that will serve as ‘glue’ to keep employees both happy and on the payroll. What is this special glue? It begins by having a culture that permeates throughout the organization that promotes work-life balance and invites a sense of trust and belonging.

Employees are quitting their jobs in food, retail, hospitality AND in higher-paying jobs in many other industries. These employees no longer wish to commute to work and want to learn new skills to grow beyond their current job opportunities. Job dissatisfaction varies across demographics and occupations, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Work-life balance and flexibility was important to employees prior to COVID-19, but it has become more pronounced during the pandemic and its importance is here to stay. Pay equity and child care are critical issues for many who are dissatisfied with their current employment arrangement.

We certainly found this in our 2007 Iowa Employment Values Study. In the workplace environment, employees value respect, achievement and having the opportunity to balance work time with family needs as most important. To attract and retain employees, employers will need to create a culture that is more responsive to employee needs and values. In an uncertain labor market where job openings outnumber applicants, assessing the local market of employee desires and sources of discontent will be crucial for any employer to stand out.

It is time for employers to evaluate existing employment practices and look for new opportunities to meet the expectations of their employees. Employers want their employees to be committed to their jobs, but employees want employers to show commitment to them. It is a two-way street.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is to be honest with ourselves and others – and then act accordingly!

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