Considerations for Enhancing Benefits to Improve Workforce Well-Being in the Midst of Pandemic

Dan Gowen
SVP, Benefit Practice Leader
Assurex Global

Employers are examining all aspects of their business because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and employee benefit plans will certainly come under review. While the impulse for some may be to cut back on portions of their benefits program, it will be essential for companies to also recognize how important their workforce is. Managing and improving workers’ total well-being is critical to the overall success of the business.

Here are a few benefit areas to consider adding or enhancing:

Accommodations to help balance family and work — Transitioning to remote work has upended the routines of many workers, and the lines between office and home have blurred. Employers can look to options such as onsite day care, pop-up short-term daycare, eldercare support, programs for new parents, greater flexibility or creativity in defining workday hours, and scheduling PTO as additional ways to help employees juggle the new normal. Supporting work-life balance also directly impacts the next point mentioned below.

Solutions to address mental health — It’s no secret that stress and anxiety issues have increased for many employees. This impacts productivity and can also drive up costs in other benefit programs, like medical and disability plans. An employee assistance program (EAP) is one benefit necessary to support mental health. Employers should also provide access to more mental and behavioral health professionals. Virtual and digital solutions like telehealth and teletherapy and apps to help with resiliency, stress, and sleep are becoming more widespread and can personalize the experience. Employers can implement financial incentives or reduce/eliminate cost sharing requirements to ensure employees utilize the solutions to their fullest.

Voluntary benefits — Benefit offerings have always required personalization, and today, that is more important than ever. Each employee’s situation is different, so providing access to a variety of products, like the ones mentioned below, can supplement many needs:

  • Additional life or disability insurance
  • Financial wellness programs
  • Critical illness or cancer programs
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Legal services
  • Identity theft protection

These products can remove a lot of the angst employees are feeling every day and provide added security and comfort, allowing them to be more engaged and connected to their work and their personal lives.

It may be possible to redirect some current expenses or incentives that are tied into perks that aren’t being used/appreciated or no longer resonate in a world of social distancing and direct them into other areas where we know the need will be great. Conducting a review or audit of all aspects of your rewards programs will assist you in determining where to focus your time and your finances.

If you have already implemented a long-term strategy for your benefits plan, try to remain focused on maintaining that strategy while updating the program to better meet employee needs. For those without a strategy, now is an opportune time to reset your benefit package and begin structuring it to fit how you want to support your workforce moving forward.

Employee benefits impact company culture and shape future engagement of the workforce. Assurex Global advisers are well positioned to ensure that your employee benefit packages meet those needs.