State and federal employment law regulators do it. Lawmakers do it. Competitors do it, too. In our free market system, to one degree or another, for a variety of reasons, they all pressure employers to treat their employees well. And now Wall Street investors are doing it, too.
A coalition of investors is closely watching how companies are managing their workforces during the COVID-19 crisis to determine how ready they are for future global emergencies.
Are they offering paid sick leave? Counseling? Flexible work and work-from-home options?
Those are some of the questions being put to corporate leaders by more than 300 investors that together manage over $9 trillion.
“The current crisis has brought human-capital-management strategies to the fore,” Ray Cameron, head of BlackRock Inc.’s investment stewardship team in the Americas, told the Wall Street Journal. As a result, companies are “understanding that how they treat their employees today will have a direct impact on their social license to operate in the future.”
In other words, it’s not a stretch to suggest that having the right mix of employee benefits is now more important than ever.
More to the point, employers expecting to retain their best and brightest should be thinking about how to improve and expand their benefits in the wake of the pandemic.
Companies that don’t take steps to strengthen their health benefits and policies could well end up in a weaker position when it comes to attracting and keeping talent after the crisis.
“How you treat your employees and how you think about their health and safety is going to be a big determining factor if they are going to stay with you,” Melanie Adams, head of corporate governance at RBC Global Asset Management, told the newspaper.
JUST Capital, a nonprofit tracking how America’s 100 biggest publicly listed employers treat their workers, thinks the pandemic is an opportunity for companies to prove they care about workers and their communities as much as they do about stockholders.
“This is a litmus test for corporate commitment,” JUST Capital CEO Martin Whittaker said.
Indeed. At the moment, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb, it’s easy to forget the fierce competition that we all saw to attract and retain employees a few months ago. But those days could be back sooner than anyone imagines.
Andrew Gibbs is an insurance advisor in CCIG’s Employee Benefits department. Reach him at Andrew.Gibbs@thinkccig.com or at 720-212-2025.
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