As a benefits professional, you already know that the employee benefits landscape is always changing. In the past, these changes were often due to various factors, including new legislation, or simply evolving attitudes in society. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic turning our world upside down, companies have been forced to overhaul their benefits packages more rapidly than ever before, and in a much more significant way.
Now that teams are still working remotely, they are no longer interested in (or served by) certain benefits, including commuter stipends, gym memberships, or weekly catered lunches. In order to retain and attract top talent, companies need to respond in a meaningful way. Here’s how your company can shape its benefits plans for the digital world to meet and exceed employee expectations.
The Cause of the Shift
If nothing else, the pandemic taught us that our health and financial standing are fragile. With millions of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths across the United States, even the most prepared and fortunate among us have felt the sting of the last year. Millions of people are unemployed or underemployed because of pandemic-related business closures.
Of those still employed, many are increasingly worried about taking care of family members or staying afloat financially. Based on a June 2020 study by The Hartford, 12% of workers surveyed are stressed out about caring for loved ones. More than 25% of survey participants are concerned about their debt, and 29% worry about saving money for the future. These figures are up from a similar survey done in March of 2020 - and the weight of staying healthy, protecting loved ones, and managing finances hasn’t gone away.
Although vaccinations have brought hope that the pandemic will soon end, the prolonged crisis will affect how people work for years to come. Telecommuting is the new standard for many employees; some will never return to a traditional office setting. Some may return to work in a hybrid capacity, opting to work a few days a week from home. Whatever schedule your employees end up adopting, one thing is clear: remote work blurs the line between the personal and the professional, and people are more conscious than ever about their health and wealth. Your company’s benefits package must evolve to meet these changes and provide employees with the support they need, how they need it.
What These Changes Mean For Your Company
The effects of these changes mean your company needs to meet employees where they are and modify its benefits offerings in a way that will positively affect your employees.
Responsive employers are quickly rolling out various new benefits to accommodate the changing needs of their employees. These enhanced benefits packages address pandemic-related concerns and also prepare for business post-crisis. Some of the perks that are trending right now (and should be on your radar) include:
- Mental health treatment
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
- Hospital indemnity plans
- Paid family leave
- Increased paid time off (PTO)
- Student loan repayment
- Financial Planning Services
- Home office reimbursement
If not already offered, it would be a good idea to consider implementing one or several of the benefits listed above. With all of the changes over the past year, ensuring that your firm’s benefits package is optimized for a remote or hybrid workforce should be a priority. Additionally, your benefits package should also promote health and financial wellness, encourage growth, and make employees feel welcome and cared for.
How to Communicate Value in Benefits
As you are evaluating and adjusting benefits, you also need to keep in mind your communication strategy. Not only do you need to examine the specific perks your company offers, you also need to evaluate how employees currently receive benefits information and participate in open enrollment. Since many employees will continue to fulfill their roles from home (or in a hybrid manner), year-round benefits communication is a must.
When rolling out new benefits, it is crucial to provide all of the tools your employees need in order to encourage participation. Remember, in order to create value, you need to make it as easy as possible for employees to take advantage of these new benefits. After all, these benefits are here to help them! That’s why remote access is key. Employees should be able to review plan information, learn about each benefit, get their questions answered, and complete their enrollment directly from their desktops, laptops or mobile phones - whether they are at home or at the office. One way to do that is with a benefits decision support solution, like Picwell.
Picwell provides comprehensive benefits decision support for both medical and supplemental benefits. Employees can learn about, and select, their benefits in just a few minutes and walk away feeling confident they are making the best decisions for themselves and/or their families. Learn more about how Picwell helps ease the stress of benefits decisions here.
Adaptation is Key to Success
Employees need to feel that the company they work for cares about their general well-being. They expect you to acknowledge and meet their changing benefits needs in a meaningful way. After all, if employees feel like their company doesn’t care about them, they will find one that does. And top talent is difficult (and expensive!) to replace. In fact, according to research from Gallup, your company may have to shell out double an employee’s salary to refill a vacated position. That figure doesn’t account for the loss of invaluable human capital and the resulting blow to employee morale. And as we all know, unhappy employees like to talk. Refusing to meet employees’ needs could also affect your company’s reputation in the marketplace. For all of these reasons, tweaking your benefits is in your best interest in order to keep your employees happy and engaged.
Your company must recognize that satisfied employees are its best asset - and the benefits you offer greatly affect morale and productivity. Remember, a benefit isn’t truly a benefit unless it provides actual value to employees. Otherwise, it’s just a useless talking point.
The Bottom Line
We’ve all seen how the pandemic turned everything upside down and inside out, including how we all work. This new professional reality means that your company needs to step up and revamp how it operates, including the way you approach employee benefits. The stability of your organization’s workforce and your company's success (and reputation!) depends on it. Adjusting your benefits plans and providing tools to meet digital demands are the best ways to ensure your company will be successful for years to come.
To learn more about how Picwell can help employees make better benefits decisions, schedule a demo to speak with a representative today.
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