The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the economic, physical and mental well-being of Canadians. In these unprecedented times, business owners are facing a lot of challenges. Maybe your business is temporarily closed. Maybe your workers are working from home. Maybe you are still operating but with major adjustments to accommodate social distancing or decreased revenues, or both.
Regardless of how COVID-19 is impacting you, it’s probably fair to say that it’s challenging. You’re having to make a lot of decisions, and you may think that now is the time to make one about your employee benefit plan.
Why do you provide employee benefits in the first place?
Before going any further, it’s important to keep sight of the reasons you began sponsoring an employee benefits plan in the first place. One of the most obvious reasons why employers choose to provide employee benefits is because they want to support their employees when they have a health event. They want to support the physical, mental and financial health of employees. The result is usually happier, more productive employees.
If this was the goal for your plan, then now more than ever your employees need that support.
Focus on keeping everyone safe.
As you try to navigate your business through these challenging times, first and foremost you should follow the advice of health authorities. You are thinking of how to keep your business operating and profitable, but you also need to ensure that your employees, business associates and customers remain safe. For many, this means changes to work arrangements, interactions with clients and more. It’s tough, but it’s what has to be done.
Our public health authorities have assured us that social distancing is crucial to keeping everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, benefit plans are – or should be – ready to go digital with you and your employees. At GroupHEALTH this means plans have access to virtual healthcare, telephone and virtual counselling, paper-free plan administration, and full digital tools for plan members. Keeping everyone safe means ensuring physical distance in the administration and delivery of your employee benefits services.
Best practices for Employee Benefits
During times like these, you may be facing uncertainty about your business and its operations. You may feel like now is the time to make changes to your employee benefit plan. Maybe now is the time, but first, it’s important to review some best practices for employee benefits. These best practices are good advice at any time, but especially during a challenging time like the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Think long term
In tough times, it’s tempting to make decisions that provide immediate relief in the short term. You may think that making drastic changes to your employee benefits plan now is the answer, but you must think of the future. The COVID-19 pandemic is here now, and it’s a very real challenge, but it will pass. In the long term, your business and the economy will rebound, and you must consider the long-term effects on your employees if you make a quick, drastic change to your benefit plan now.
At GroupHEALTH, we’ve built cost-containment measures right into your employee benefit plan to help keep the plan healthy during challenging times and optimized when times are good. This is most certainly a challenging time and it may indeed be a time when you must adjust. But thinking long term means considering the future when making adjustments now.
2. Be flexible
Information and advice related to COVID-19 is dynamic. As health authorities all around the world share information, we see changing recommendations and advice. Yet another element to the uncertainty is how long the pandemic and its effects will last. As a business owner, it makes sense that you may need to make changes to your employee benefit plan as you deal with these changes and uncertainty about the future. Having the flexibility to add, remove or adjust benefits to best support your business and your employees is crucial during these challenging times.
3. Make the right adjustments
Dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may mean that you must adjust your employee benefit plan. The important thing to think about here is that you need to make the right adjustments, the right way. There may be unseen risks and liabilities associated with changing some aspects of your benefit plan – don’t try to take this on by yourself. At GroupHEALTH, we can work with you to suggest adjustments and options that are the best fit for your company and your situation.
Good Advice is Key
Now more than ever is the time to consult with an expert if you’re having concerns about your employee benefits plan and your business. We’re here to help with advice, options and support to help you and your business through a very challenging time.