Everyone recognizes the sounds of laughter and good times at their favorite restaurant. The wonderful staff that knows your name and order by heart, the smells of your favorite dishes coming from the kitchen. There is nothing that compares to gathering around a table of great food, surrounded by the people we love. We all learned to appreciate how precious those moments truly were in early 2020.
To echo Mayor Kenney’s recent statement on the industry, tourism and hospitality in Philadelphia were devastated by COVID-19. This loss of tourism led to the loss of many jobs and local restaurants. We are still feeling those effects today, but we’re starting to bounce back. If we are going to continue moving forward, we need to address the issue of employee retention.
It is not surprising that workers are walking out of jobs that do not provide health insurance and other benefits. Now more than ever, employer-provided coverage is a basic need to retain staff, to keep them happy and healthy. Hard-working people want security, and when workers feel appreciated and valued, it promotes loyalty and encourages retention.
Simply put, businesses that provide benefits are attractive to hardworking folks. These added benefits prove that businesses care about the people that work for them and the community they serve. When a business provides these benefits, it makes all the difference — both for employees and for employers. In difficult times, benefits couldn’t be more important.
Employer-provided coverage can make or break a business. Our business felt the effects of COVID-19 just as much as the next, but looking back, offering benefits would have allowed us to retain some critical team members. Especially after the pandemic, we know that it is a real possibility to be critically understaffed at a moment’s notice. Particularly in the hospitality industry, we want to make sure employees are not only able to see a doctor when they’re sick, we want to ensure workers can maintain their health through preventative care. Imagine for a moment, as a business owner, asking for a doctor’s note from an employee that will cost that employee a week’s salary to go and obtain; that is a palpable issue. The working class that our industry employs has the same needs as every other industry out there. We shouldn’t make coverage exclusive to corporate environments. Small businesses should not feel helpless when it comes to this matter.
When an employer invests in healthcare, it gives employees the resources needed to be able to access services that they previously might have lacked. Affordable doctors’ visits and a set emergency plan can make a world of a difference in how people structure their lives and can better concentrate on work. In the long run, investing in employer-provided coverage helps businesses and the community overall by improving the quality of life for their employees and their families.
Local businesses are the backbone of cities like Philadelphia and when working Philadelphians flourish, so does the rest of the city. After two years of this pandemic, we need to incentivize employees to keep working and to continue to give their very best to this city. Let’s provide that incentive by protecting and investing in employer-provided coverage. Now more than ever, this retention tool is essential for all industries.
Michael Sobolewski is Director of Operations at Fabrika.