The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable impact on employees across all industries. It has been a rollercoaster as employees have had to make changes to where they work, how they work and how they interact with others. While the pandemic isn’t over, there does seem to be a “post-COVID” world emerging, where companies and employees are establishing a “new normal.” In this new post-COVID reality, employees really need: the right employee health benefits, flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances and a better work/life balance.
Employee health benefits
Employee health benefits have always been highly valued by employees, and this has not changed. If anything, employees now place an even higher value on their health and having a benefit plan that can support it. From an employee perspective, comprehensive health coverage is optimal, but your company’s budget must also be considered. If your budget doesn’t permit you to cover everything, then in this post-Covid world, employees really do need:
1. Health, Dental and Vision
- Prescription drug coverage – A cornerstone to employee health benefits, prescription drug coverage is usually the most valued of all employee benefits. It’s a “must have” for many employees when job searching. If your plan has cost control mechanisms in place, prescription drug coverage usually provides a relatively high return on investment (in terms of general health, recruitment and retainment of employees).
- Paramedical coverage – Visiting a paramedical practitioner such as a massage therapist, physiotherapist, acupuncturist or podiatrist can be pricey. However, these treatments can make a huge difference in the everyday health – physical and mental – of employees. Employees value and appreciate having coverage for these services.
- Dental – Another highly-valued employee benefit is dental coverage. Dental visits for both preventative and treatment purposes can really add up. Employees in this post-COVID world value this coverage that allows them and their families to regularly visit the dentist.
- Vision Care – Coverage for eye examinations, glasses and contacts is another employee benefit that gets a lot of attention. Many people require vision care products and services and this coverage can mean a lot to employees.
2. Mental Health Support
COVID-19 contributed to an increase in health claims related to anxiety and depression. In this post-COVID world, now more than ever, your employees need support for their mental health. There are a number of ways to support mental health, including:
- An Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – an EFAP provides your employees and their families with mental health support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Free short-term counselling, online articles, toolkits and telephone assistance help remove barriers your employees may be facing when needing help.
- Workplace policies and training – Educating employees on mental health and the resources available to them is an important way to support mental well-being. Training managers on how to support employees with mental health issues and raising awareness to remove the stigma around mental health are all ways to provide support.
Employees in this post-COVID world are looking for employee benefits that increase wellness, instead of just managing illness. This means providing benefits to help prevent illness and improve overall health. There are many ways to do this, including:
- Wellness Spending Accounts – these relatively new but very popular employee benefits reimburse employees for employer-determined fitness and wellness related expenses.
- Subsidized fitness options – Partnering with a local gym or fitness facility to offer free or subsidized membership can help employees get active.
- Online health and fitness sessions – Providing access to an online fitness support system such as LIFT can provide customized fitness and nutritional advice to motivate employees to improve their health.
- Workplace initiatives – Creating a workplace walking or running club, sponsoring company-wide fitness challenges or providing employees with free fruit in the workplace are all ways you can help improve wellness.
Flexibility and Work/Life Balance
The second important piece to the puzzle for employees in this post-COVID world is flexibility. Employees themselves have had to be flexible in adapting to changes in the workplace: whether it has been working from home or having a more flexible schedule, employees have had a taste of this increased flexibility and they are not ready to give it up.
Finding the balance between working in the office and working from home is an important focus. Helping employees maintain the flexibility they need to have a good work/life balance is also key. The pandemic means that circumstances are constantly changing. Closures in schools or daycares, staying home to look after a child that is in isolation, or rescheduling a vacation due to COVID are just a few of the obstacles that have become commonplace. Ensuring employees have the flexibility, including in their benefits plan, to adapt to these changing circumstances is what employees really need.
Good Advice is Key
Is your employee benefits plan the best fit for your employees in this post-COVID world? Are you getting the most out of your investment in employee benefits? 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.