Go to podcast
by Clare Morin
HR Trends

How the pandemic is reshaping employee benefits


Unum surveyed 400+ employers in early June to ask how the pandemic was impacting their benefits, leave and enrollment planning. We found that big changes are coming — and they could be permanent. In today’s episode, Sharlyn Lauby, Rob Hecker and Ellen McCann discuss the survey findings, and how the pandemic is fundamentally reshaping the workplace and employee benefits.

Top takeaways

  • 56% of employers will allow flexibility to work from home even after the pandemic. Employers are starting to ask paradigm-shifting questions like, “What does work from home 2.0 look like? What are the implications for our culture and how we innovate?” [02:05]
  • Paid leave is on the rise: 44% of employers probably or definitely will expand paid leave benefits in the coming year. Employers have learned that unpaid FMLA leave was insufficient to meet the magnitude of the COVID-19 emergency. [06:00]
  • More than half of employers are changing their benefits plan. As the pandemic proceeds, we can expect behavioral health issues to emerge around anxiety, depression, issues of isolation, elder or child care, and financial stresses. Employers are starting to plan, by developing programs and services to help employees better cope — and even thrive. [08:11]
  • Mental health claims and leave requests may be on the rise. Employers should not feel that “it’s business as usual now.” They should understand that, while employees may have been able to juggle things for the last few months, they may not be able to do that for long. Employers have to remain flexible and nimble. [12:33]
  • Read the report here

Featured speakers

Sharlyn Lauby
President, ITM Group Inc., author of HR Bartender

Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida-based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent. Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was Vice President of Human Resources at Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and the workplace. Sharlyn launched HR Bartender to provide a “friendly place for everyday workplace issues.” It’s been recognized as one of the Top 5 Business Blogs Read by HR Professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is the author of the best-selling books “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent.”

Robert Hecker
Vice President, Global Total Rewards, Unum

Rob Hecker is currently the Vice President of Global Total Rewards, responsible for Unum’s health, medical and retirement plans, well-being strategies and compensation and rewards programs. Prior to moving into his current role, Rob was the Vice President of National Client Group Services, responsible for developing client service delivery strategies for Unum’s 2000+ employees customer segment. His areas of responsibility included client management strategy, new customer implementation, premium collections, contract services and administrative management services. 


Episode 17

by Clare Morin