According to a new survey conducted by Oasis, a Human Resources (HR) services provider, ensuring a safe work environment amid COVID-19 is the top priority among business leaders. Workplace safety is emphasized more than other important business considerations such as talent acquisition and professional development.
For its annual research, Oasis, a Paychex® Company, conducted a national survey of 300 business leaders who employed 5 to 99 employees from a broad cross-section of industries. The results are now available in its white paper 2021 Priorities for Business Leaders: A U.S. Survey, which reveal that workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is the top priority among those surveyed.
Oasis notes in a press release that shifting priorities due to COVID-19 have pushed talent acquisition from the top of the list—a spot it has held for the past 2 years. Employee safety and well-being are now top priorities in the year ahead.
“2021 will be challenging as businesses, in particular small and mid-size businesses, navigate safely bringing employees back to work and adjust to the long-term impact of the pandemic,” said Teresa Carroll, president of Oasis. “No matter the industry they serve, all businesses have had to adapt to new regulations and local and state mandates as the pandemic evolves. Likewise, whether employees have faced cutbacks or mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic, all workers have been impacted. In turn, this has brought workforce management and overall physical, financial, mental, and social employee wellness front and center among business leaders’ list of priorities. As we see businesses recover from the pandemic and get back to work, Oasis is prepared to support clients through the unchartered territory that lies ahead.”
When asked which issues will become more challenging over the next 12 months compared with the past year, respondents replied:
- Ensuring a safe workplace in light of COVID-19: 36%
- Offering competitive compensation and benefits (including employee assistance programs): 31%
- Developing employees and future leaders for succession: 29%
- Attracting strong, competent management and dedicated, capable staff: 28%
- Maintaining ongoing regulatory compliance: 28%
The press release highlighted other key findings from the survey, including:
- General stress levels are higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, with 21% of business leaders feeling “much more stressed.” Furthermore, 54% of business leaders say they are more aware of their employees’ stress levels than before COVID-19.
- Keeping employees engaged and productive is a higher priority now than it was at the start of 2020, with 16% reporting it is a “much higher priority now.”
- Thirty-six percent of business leaders want to make employee benefits easier to access and more affordable. Thirty-three percent want to improve the overall benefits they offer in order to remain competitive when recruiting and retaining top talent.
This focus on workplace wellness and safety highlights once again the necessity for HR to work closely alongside an organization’s environment, health, and safety (EHS) team to effectively address hazards facing the workforce.