For most people, 2020 was a year like no other. As a business owner, in 2020, you likely faced new and unique challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic required many changes to the way you conducted your business. It meant changes to how your team collaborated and worked together. It meant changes to how you interacted with your customers. It meant changes to your financial situation and plans for the future. For some businesses, the pandemic meant revenue growth and expansion. For many others, the opposite was true. As we look forward to 2021, how will the year look from an employee health benefits perspective?
The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a part of life in Canada as we begin in 2021. Many provinces have measures in place that affect business operations and customers. As a result, this continues to be a challenging time for many businesses.
This may mean uncertainties surrounding your company’s financial situation. This could further translate into uncertainty about planned salary increases or employee benefits. This is a difficult time to plan for the future because, for many companies, the future is uncertain. The question is, from an employee benefits perspective, what can or should you be doing in these challenging times?
Leverage Your Employee Health Benefits Plan
If you already sponsor an employee benefits plan, now is the time to make sure you are getting the most out of the plan. There are more than a few ways you can and should be leveraging your plan to help you during these challenging times.
- Employee benefits as part of a total rewards package
Traditionally, an important way to express your appreciation to your employees is with an annual salary increase. But this year that may be completely off the table. If you’re facing financial challenges, even a small increase may be too much.Instead, focus on showing your appreciation through a total rewards package. Maybe instead of increasing salary, you tweak your benefits plan to increase coverage or add flexibility. Maybe you reward deserving employees with additional time off work. Maybe you host some fun virtual team-building exercises to help show employees that you value their contribution and to bring colleagues together.
Showcasing your employee benefits plan as part of a total rewards package may simply mean drawing attention to valuable elements of the existing plan that are under-utilized. Consider distributing new communication pieces that highlight the plan and the benefits that are already available.
- Employee benefits to support the health of your workers
It’s likely that a big reason behind why you began sponsoring an employee benefits plan was to support the health of your workers. This continues to be a very important reason to sponsor employee benefits. Healthy employees have fewer absences and are more productive.During this challenging time, supporting the health of your workers is more important than ever. Specifically, having resources to support the mental health of your employees is imperative. Stress and anxiety related to COVID-19 can have a real impact on the mental wellbeing of your employees. Ensuring your plan has an Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) to support the mental health of employees is critical. Communicating what support is available and how to access them is also crucial so that employees who need them use them.
- Employee benefits to attract and retain workers
An employee benefits plan has always been a great tool to attract new employees and retain existing ones. If your business is growing through the pandemic, leveraging your employee benefits plan to attract new employees continues to be a good strategy. Ensure your plan can hold up when compared to the competition.If you’re more focused on keeping the employees that you have, your employee benefits plan is also a key tool. If you’re operating with reduced capacity or limited hours, your current employees may not be getting the hours and wages they had been accustomed to. In this situation, continuing to sponsor employee benefits for these employees may help you hold on to these employees. After all, recruiting and training new employees is a costly endeavour.
Trying to get a clear picture of what employee benefits will look like in 2021 is tough. It’s difficult to know exactly how and for how long the pandemic will affect businesses this year (and into the next). The best strategy for this year is to ensure your employee benefits plan has flexibility.
Work with your employee benefits provider to choose a strategy that can adapt to changing circumstances. Discuss options available to decrease plan costs or make changes to coverages. Seek feedback from your workforce on what benefits are important to them right now. Continue to plan for the future but be ready to tweak your plan if needed.
Good Advice is Key
As you look ahead into 2021, ensure you’re getting the most out of your employee benefits plan. Be ready to be flexible and adapt your plan to meet your current situation. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.