COVID-19 affected nearly every employee and company. While many have returned to some semblance of normal, employees in certain industries are still dealing with the aftershocks of the pandemic. Retail and hospitality workers, both front-line and behind the scenes, report worsening mental health even as the pandemic wanes.

One survey found that over 40% of retail workers say their mental health has declined over the past year, and one in four face high levels of anxiety on the job. The toll this takes on employees’ mental health has serious consequences—52% of hospitality workers who left their job over the past two years cited burnout as the main cause for their departure. Another 16% said they left because their well-being wasn’t prioritized by their company. 

Retail and hospitality workers need more help than ever before, and HR leaders in the industry are recognizing the importance of supporting their employees’ well-being. 29% of retail and hospitality managers feel like they need more tools to support their team’s well-being, and 30% of retailers say that they plan to put a well-being strategy in place to better support their employees. But how can retail and hospitality companies design wellness benefits that actually make a difference for their people?

What are wellness benefits?

Wellness benefits are solutions that help employees live healthier lives both at work and at home. These wellness benefits exist outside of traditional health insurance, providing care and support that employees may not receive through their in-person provider. Examples of wellness benefits can include mental health support, extended family health benefits, stipends for gyms or workout programs, and more. 

The positive impacts of wellness benefits can be seen both by employees and their employers. Wellness benefits like mental or family health support have been shown to improve health outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and increase productivity and engagement at work. One study found that companies that invest in employee wellness programs see an average return on investment of $3.27 for every dollar spent, due to reduced healthcare costs, absenteeism, and turnover.

Building wellness benefits for a diverse workforce

When it comes to wellness benefits, retail and hospitality companies have to build programs that support a diverse range of employees, ranging from corporate to hourly workers. While employees with wellness needs exist at every level of an organization, certain marginalized groups are overrepresented among hourly workers and need additional care and support. Close to three-quarters of front-line hospitality employees are women, and 55% are Black or Latine. We see similar trends in the retail space: over half of all front-line retail workers are women, and one-third are Black or Latine. These groups, in particular, face barriers to wellness at work and at home:

  • Women working in front-line retail and hospitality jobs are more likely to experience pregnancy discrimination and face barriers in accessing reproductive healthcare, compared to those in higher-paying corporate jobs. 
  • Front-line retail and hospitality workers are less likely to have access to affordable childcare, which can make it difficult to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. 
  • Retail and hospitality workers are less likely to have access to paid parental leave compared to other industries and are less likely to report that they understand the maternity benefits available to them. 

While employees at all levels would benefit from additional support, meeting the needs of women and people of color should be a top priority when vetting wellness benefits. 

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Supporting retail and hospitality employees with better wellness benefits

While wellness benefits can encompass anything from meditation classes to comprehensive healthcare, HR leaders in the retail and hospitality industries should focus their efforts on benefits that can truly make a difference for their employees at home and at work. These include programs that focus on supporting women, employees from historically marginalized communities, and their families. 

Reproductive healthcare support

For many retail and hospitality workers, especially those working on the front line, wellness can start with better reproductive healthcare. Pregnant people in the U.S. have the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country, and Black and Latine birthing parents have an even higher risk when compared to white parents. 

Providing wellness benefits that provide access to better reproductive healthcare can improve the health and well-being of retail and hospitality workers. Wellness benefits in this space could include:

  • Virtual, on-demand access to reproductive health specialists like OB-GYNs or doulas to fill existing gaps in traditional, in-person healthcare. 
  • Access to online classes, clinically-vetted content, and peer communities to teach employees how to advocate for themselves during their reproductive health journey.
  • The option to financially support employees’ reproductive health needs, including fertility treatments, fees associated with adoption and surrogacy, egg freezing costs, and more.

These reproductive health benefits can make a tangible impact both on your employees and on your business. Maven studies show that reproductive health benefits improve health outcomes and increase employee loyalty, productivity, and return-to-work rates. 

Mental health care

In the face of declining mental health experienced by retail and hospitality workers, HR leaders can provide their employees with the resources they need to navigate stress, burnout, and anxiety. One in four Americans reports having to choose between mental health care and paying for daily necessities, starkly highlighting the need for employer-sponsored mental health care. 

Many employers are opting to provide virtual access to mental health specialists at no additional cost to their employees. These specialists can help employees navigate the stress, anxiety, and other emotions that may be stemming from trying to balance their work and home lives. This support can have ripple effects beyond employees’ personal lives, as well. According to a survey by Mental Health America, 80% of workers said that addressing their mental health improved their job performance.

Paid parental & family leave 

The vast majority of Americans—over 80%, by some estimates—have no paid leave. As a result, one in four birthing parents in the U.S. will return to work less than two weeks after giving birth. What’s more, employees that are caring for a sick child or aging parent at home often have to take unpaid time off, which many can’t afford. 

Providing employees with paid family and medical leave should be an essential part of any wellness benefits program to help workers meet their health and wellness needs with greater financial security. The benefits of offering this support extend to companies as well—studies show that first-time mothers who take paid leave are more likely to return to the same employer than those who take unpaid leave or no leave. 

How Maven can make an impact on retail & hospitality employees

As retail and hospitality employers look for better ways to support their employees’ health and wellness, Maven is here to help. As the leading women’s and family healthcare company, our 24/7 platform provides clinical, emotional, and financial support all in one place. We offer compassionate reproductive health care to retail and hospitality employees, providing them:

  • 24/7, on-demand support to a range of specialty providers, including OB-GYNs, doulas, sleep coaches, mental health therapists, and more. 
  • A personalized care plan and the ongoing support of a Care Advocate to help them navigate their healthcare journey
  • Access to a library of clinically-vetted content and live classes to provide them with the information they need to become their own health and wellness advocates. 

Want to learn more about how Maven can make a difference for your employees? Schedule a demo today to learn more. 

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