Globally, we have moved from the great resignation and into the great negotiation. Employees have taken the power back in a global pandemic that, while ebbing, has had meaningful and sticky ramifications. In a rolling and up-to-date Mercer study, 77.3% of employees cite dissatisfaction with pay. Linked to that is the 41.6% of employees who are experiencing significant burnout and exhaustion.

Meanwhile, human resource and people teams have been scrambling to deliver the perfect press-worthy cultures, while disparities among the masses are rampant. HR budgets are constrained, and inequality is pushing employees to the situational distress brink. According to a U.S. Department of Labor study in 2021, nearly 48 million people quit their jobs. In 2022, resignation rates are still holding strong on average.

As if the world weren’t imbalanced and chaotic enough, unemployment rates for Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians (male, female, and other) are significantly higher than their white counterparts, and across the age spectrum.

So, where’s the linchpin? Benefits are it, but not the standard benefits stack. Traditional benefits – health and wealth – are mandatory and expected. However, in this ongoing pandemic, organizations are looking for more than the obvious health insurance and 401k plan. According to a Joblist Confidence Survey, 67% of job seekers considered benefits more important now than before the pandemic, and 54% would consider lower pay for better benefits.

“What’s in it for me,” is the new employee power play, and where the great negotiation can firmly answer that question, regardless of race, age, or where a person is located around the globe.

The new benefits stack is inclusive and flexible

Global Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs) offer flexible employee reimbursements that encourage freedom of choice. Also referred to as allowances, stipends, and wellbeing wallets, LSAs offer the ability for employees to spend where they need and want (based on plan design) and not where a company thinks the money should go.

“What I love about LSAs is that an employee with children can use the benefit for childcare or online learning, for example,” discussed Ryan Ramsey, Head of Strategic Alliances for Espresa. “Then there are younger employees who need assistance with paying back student loans, or work-from-home employees who need ergonomics support for their home office, meal delivery – you name it. The options that employers can offer are literally endless and fully customizable. Plus, LSAs are a post-tax benefit. So, an employer isn’t dealing with taxes, or regulatory aspects, such as ERISA. There really are zero rules outside of the budget set by the company and how they allow the employee to spend, submit, and be reimbursed.”

LSAs as part of corporate responsibility

Global company ServiceNow went well above and beyond the basic day-to-day needs to support their employees’ survival. “COVID taught us to open our hearts as humanity and allow ourselves to step out of our bodies and look at how people needed to rally and help get us through this,” discussed Wendy Lim, ServiceNow’s Director of APJ Compensation and Benefits in Singapore. “It wasn’t about money anymore, it was about – how do we save lives?”

ServiceNow’s India workforce was heavily impacted in the pandemic. In a truly empathetic move, they delivered an LSA program to the entire company post three days of critical impact, and supplied access to vaccinations, inclusive of entire families, along with meals and oxygen banks. Using HR technology to their advantage, ServiceNow was able to roll out their program, manage claims on demand, and reimburse claims through their LSA program with immediacy and without creating greater burden to their HR team.

Elevating more than your bottom line

Global lifestyle spending accounts as a benefit are relatively new in vernacular. Unlike HSAs and FSAs, which are a fully U.S.-based concept, LSAs are truly global. LSAs have no borders and have no rules impeding them from supporting employees in any country, currency, or language. “We’ve seen LSAs dramatically differentiate an organization from another, and not only attract new talent but retain them,” spoke Brandon Markham, VP of Workplace Culture Solutions with Espresa. He continued. “It’s no secret, we have a labor shortage, everywhere. People are quitting because their lives are not being equitably supported and there are greener pastures elsewhere. Work-life balance? More like, “I support your business outcomes, help support my life.””

An equitable workplace for all

Inclusivity is more than words in a mission statement or on a wall. LSAs are a meaningful way to create a connection with employees that are agnostic – they see nothing more than the need of the employee, individually. It’s the rally-cry benefit.

“Some people won’t see the end of their workday, now,” spoke Alex Shubat, CEO of Espresa. “As businesses, we are small countries. We can change the tide of how we care for people as a global presence. LSAs from a workplace perspective level the playing field. There’s no face or race or gender on a claim. You use the advantage to your advantage. The company wins because they get to keep you.”


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