COVID-19 impacts the benefits’ landscape
At this point in time, many workplaces have closed for in person work or simply reduced their number of people working on site. This turns many employees to remote working or paid leave. Because of this shift in working situations, you should be considering how your employee benefits will be affected.
How can you learn about your benefit options?
Filling a spot on your calendar should be the Open Enrollment event. This event allows you to participate and learn about benefit options under the current pandemic circumstances. As technology has made its largest appearance ever, people have been able to proceed with their lives when contact and in person remains a concern. With this, Open Enrollment along with other learning opportunities have turned virtual. This includes informative webinars or remote conferences, a simple email regarding benefit offers and employee resources, a list of commonly proposed thoughts or questions along with an answer to them, and, finally, an option for online office hours where employees can make an appointment and virtually discuss any information necessary.
Benefit offerings should be rethought
Workplace situations do not remain the same as they did before the pandemic, therefore the benefits do not either. Factors that needed to be considered and taken into account previously may not need the name kind of importance now. However, benefits that were not very known have gained a new sense of attention. For example, financial counseling due to the complexity in the current financial situations caused by COVID-19. With all of these shifts, feelings about benefits have also changed. Hartford Insurance ran a study that resulted in these responses:
- In early March, 80% claimed they valued their insurance benefits. In mid-June, 73% felt the same.
- In early March, 61% claimed they trust their company in decision making about accessible benefits. In mid-June, 55% felt the same.
- In early March, 56% felt that they had above average benefits in the marketplace. In mid-June, 44% felt the same.
It can be seen, with these numbers, that people have lost confidence in their available benefits.
What should be done?
What is best for these concerned workers is reassurance that their employers want the best for them and their needs. With this, companies should be looking into personalized yet accessible offerings for their employees. It can be difficult at times to support and acknowledge the employees, especially now that communication takes place virtually. There are various platforms that can be used to survey and obtain the values of workers and figure out a plan using said values. When employers consider personalizing their benefit offerings, employees are bound to attain a new sense of value and create connections with one another that become crucial in steering through these unpredictable times.
Considering mental health and well being
Throughout the pandemic, many Americans have fallen victims to anxiety and/or depression. This is because of the stress of caring for loved ones, the effects of isolation and trying to manage the financial struggles. Mental health effects are typically long-term impacts that linger for a good amount of time, which means employers should note this for when their affected workers come back to work. This idea has driven many employers to offer healthcare benefits that incorporate well being factors pertaining to the circumstances COVID-19 has brought upon us. Along with this, employers are also providing virtual mental health programs to promote healthy living and stress reduction.
Formulating a plan for the future
It is important for employers to implement the above ideas, but it is also prominent for them to remember their original offerings and requirements. Along with this, regular communication about resources provided by health insurance companies is still vital as employees also haven’t been attending their yearly physicals or check ups because of the quarantine procedures. When thinking about long term, this will cause healthcare costs to skyrocket. With that being said, employers should contact their health insurance brokers and get some information on what to expect for the 2021 budget. There should be a happy medium between the organization and the employee so that a reasonable, affordable plan is possible. This process can be complex for some more than others which is why Smart HR provides help organizing virtual open enrollment events along with assistance is everything else that follows.