The Value of Employee Benefits During COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on virtually every aspect of business, and the potential long-term effects are still beginning to take shape. New professional parameters are being put into place, but are still largely in the trial and error phase.

Employee benefits are one of the main draws for job seekers when it comes to deciding who they want to work for. Attractive benefits have traditionally included monetary perks such as paid time off, health insurance and bonuses. However, in the same vein as many other professional features changing over the past few months, the COVID-19 crisis has forced employers to think creatively when offering their prospective (and current) employees benefits. For example, the notion of vacation time when strict travel restrictions are still in place may not be as appealing a perk as it once was.

For many people, the global pandemic has brought upon a new outlook of the ideas that matter most to them and allow them to thrive. In the current age, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, employers also need to shift their focus. The benefits might look different, but the end goal is the same: keeping your employees happy and giving them the tools they need in order to be their best professional selves.

Here are some of the ways the value of employee benefits have changed during COVID-19, and what the near-future of employee benefits might look like.

Remote and Virtual Perks

‘Remote’ has been the name of the game for the past several months, and while some businesses are slowly beginning to make the move back to their traditional workplaces, it is unlikely that the presence of remote work will be going away any time soon.

Because some employee benefits are tied to the physicality of the workspace, remote workers are inevitably going to miss out on these perks. As a result, the work from home era of the last few months has spawned a new collection of perks for the remote worker, including subsidized gym memberships, virtual workout classes, and snacks delivered straight to the employee’s door.

These kinds of perks aim at instilling a sense of community even when teams cannot physically be in the same space, and that all members of the team are shown equal appreciation, regardless of where they choose to work from to ensure their own safety and comfort.

“The benefits might look different, but the end goal is the same: keeping your employees happy and giving them the tools they need in order to be their best professional selves.”

Mental Health Resources

Due to the globally heightened awareness of health and well-being, health insurance is inevitably going to remain one of the most sought-after perks. However, physical health isn’t the only aspect of individual well-being that needs attention. In general, mental health has taken a hit during the COVID months. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 42% of respondents said their mental health had declined since the pandemic began.

In response to this swift and dramatic change, many companies have begun offering a much richer selection of mental health and mental health-adjacent perks, such as flexible hours, access to meditation and mindfulness resources, and better access to therapy, among others. This trend is being felt locally and globally, with many countries around the world placing a bigger emphasis on enhancing mental health services.

Poor mental health can lead to a number of negative professional side effects, such as low job satisfaction, low productivity and employee absenteeism, so addressing this issue as adamantly as possible is mutually beneficial to both employee and employer.

Thinking Outside of the Box

If there is one thing that can be agreed upon during the age of COVID-19 is that we are all somewhat figuring it out as we go. Unprecedented times such as these often call for creative and imaginative thinking, and for some, that has meant trying completely unheard-of approaches in their benefits packages.

One company rolled out a particularly uncommon benefit: giving employees money to put towards adopting a pet. The company that began this initiative has said it has paid off immensely in terms of employee mental wellbeing and overall morale, which positively contribute to the team effort.

Getting creative with what you have while still upholding the value of employee benefits is no easy feat, but businesses are coming up with some remarkable ideas. Some companies have used existing benefits to provide pandemic-related solutions to their employees, such as redeploying office budgets for remote worker’s supplies. Also, if your company has felt a financial strain during the pandemic as many companies have, introducing unusual employee perks that may not cost as much as traditional ones are a good way to simultaneously keep workers happy while keeping expenses at a minimum.

At the end of the day, the value of employee benefits has to change in order to meet your workforce where they are, and that may take a fair bit of trial and error to determine what works best for your team. Instilling empathy and understanding into everything you do as an employer is more important than ever before: companies that don’t embody these newfound requirements may be outdone by their counterparts who are willing to adapt to the changes.

Mindscope is always eager to contribute to the ongoing conversation surrounding COVID-19 and the subsequent changes to the workforce. Contact us today.