Since March, we have all been acutely aware of our health and the health of those we love. The numbers of people who have been infected and who have lost their lives to COVID-19 are staggering. Over the past few months, the virus feels even more threatening as the numbers in our country have increased and people we know have become infected.
From re-opening offices, making school decisions, and trying to determine how to gather with friends in a socially distant way, COVID-19 is the determining factor in most of our decisions. If you are like me, any minor ache or slight sneeze leads to a panicked concern that I have contracted the virus. The pandemic has certainly given everyone an increased focus on health and overall well-being.
Businesses also have increased their focus on employee health and well-being during the pandemic. Well-being is more than mandating masks in the workplace, it requires a holistic approach to employees’ physical, social, and mental health.
The starting point when considering employee well-being is the benefits package that a company provides. COVID-19 is reshaping how companies view employee benefits and it is important that plans are reviewed and possibly restructured.
- National Networks. The pandemic has proven that employees can work from home and still be productive. Future hiring will come from a larger applicant pool that is not necessarily restricted by geographical location. Ensure that your health plan has strong national provider networks that benefit local and remote employees.
- Mental Health. Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. Evaluate your health plan for robust mental health options. Also, consider partnering with Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) or Wellness providers to support your employees during difficult times.
- Financial Counseling. Concern over personal financial security can decrease productivity at work. Many employers are offering financial counseling as an additional benefit to help employees navigate these uncertain times.
- Telehealth. It is essential that individuals continue to receive the medical care they need. However, concern about contacting the Coronavirus has caused a decline in well checks and regular medical visits. Most insurance carriers and medical providers offer various resources for telemedicine. Research your health plan’s options and communicate to your team.
- Changes in Health Plans. In response to the pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27th. Multiple provisions impacted employer sponsored health plans including coverage of COVID-19 testing, coverage, and vaccines; first dollar coverage for telehealth under high deductible plans; and allowing over-the-counter medical products to be reimbursed under HRAs, HSAs, and FSAs
- Enhance Leave and PTO benefits. Now is the time to rethink your time off policies. In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, 42% of companies are planning to make changes to time off policies with increased flexibility. For 2020, be sure to also address the anticipated surplus of banked hours that are not used due to vacations being cancelled.
Since the early part of the year, our world has been turned upside down and our focus has shifted to the importance of health and overall well-being. Companies have also changed their focus and there is now a unique opportunity to enhance benefit programs. Most importantly, companies must communicate all the offerings to their employees and encourage use of benefits to complement everyone’s health.
While the pandemic has been awful, there are many lessons we can learn from this year. An increased focus on the overall well-being of employees is one positive outcome that will have many rewards in the future.
About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for more than 20 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs. For more information, visit www.propelhr.com.