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Urgency in the midst of uncertainty: A wake-up call for employers

Written by Stephan Scholl, Chief Executive Officer, Alight Solutions

To say the world is fundamentally different today than it was six months ago isn’t just a colossal understatement, it’s almost trite given all that has happened in this short time. A global pandemic, market volatility, racial and political unrest and that doesn’t even consider the massive range of impacts to various industry sectors. If 2020 has taught business leaders anything, it’s to be ready.

As a CEO, preparing for the unexpected is table stakes. But the sheer onslaught of ongoing, market-moving events has given rise to an even more urgent need to fortify our businesses against what’s coming next. And yet, how do you move fast when you aren’t sure which way to go?

We may not know what the future holds, but one thing is clear, and it provides the direction we need. We have to take care of our people if we want to see our businesses thrive. We have to take care of their needs across their health, wealth and work to ensure they can be productive, engaged contributors to our success.

Under the current climate, there are three big threats that, without addressing them, could define your future and have lasting ramifications:

Our healthcare costs will surge in 2021 and beyond.

While data shows the disruption of the pandemic created historic low healthcare costs in Q1 and Q2 of 2020, that trend is likely to be temporary. We predict healthcare costs will rise by as much as 14% in 2021 for Fortune 500 companies. This equates to approximately $52 billion — or $104 million per company. Many companies are not planning for this sharp rise, which will likely have long term impacts on their business and the health of their people.

Our workforce — and their needs — has evolved overnight.

The new normal will usher in a dramatic talent redistribution and opportunity while adding new complexities. This pandemic has taught us that for most industries, traditional workforce models are no longer relevant. Workers want flexibility in the hours they work, in the place they do their work and in the way they’re rewarded and compensated. Employers, on the other hand, need an agile workforce that can quickly be scaled up or down depending on need and skills. Meeting these expectations will define a productive, engaged workforce.

Our people are hurting financially.

There is no doubt about it. Workers are under considerable financial strain and it is likely to escalate as this long period of uncertainty continues. The old school notion that your employees’ personal financial situation isn’t your concern, is just that — old school. If you want your employees at their best, engaged, productive and you want to keep your best, brightest and most skilled workers, then financial stress is your problem.

So, what can we as leaders do? I, for one, am acting with a sense of urgency and am ensuring Alight is transforming now to be ready for the future. And in doing that, I see that Alight’s colleagues are engaged and dedicated to helping our clients — and their employees — prepare for and transform for the future.

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