2020 has been a year like no other in the world of HR. Globally, HR professionals have been scrambling to navigate unforeseen and unprecedented workforce challenges, with droves of employees on leave, laid off, or working remotely.
Now HR departments are navigating complex reopening plans where, in addition to managing people, a number of new occupational health and safety issues must be considered. The massive reorganization of the way we work has led to many changes that impact employee benefits packages. Things that were once a perk are now the new norm and employees are reassessing their priorities. The new focus is on health and wellness, flexibility, and re-imagining incentives.
Health & Wellness
For obvious reasons, people are now more motivated than ever to look at the fine print of their health care coverage. People want to know that they can take the amount of leave they need when they or family members become ill, or if there are new priorities too.
The pandemic has taken a massive toll on mental health. The public wants new benefit packages that include support for wellness activities such as mental health counseling, stress-management and resilience training, virtual wellness programs, financial management courses, and crisis fund programs.
As the economy has tanked before the world’s eyes, financial anxiety is a major source of mental health burden. The post-pandemic benefits package will be responsive to that anxiety and consider incentives like student loan reimbursement plans.
The disruption to school and daycare also has employees and HR departments taking a look at how benefits programs can support child care expenses.
The pandemic has very quickly shown that many occupations we believed needed to happen on-site can be performed very adequately remotely. This has advanced the adoption of remote working across a wide swath of sectors, potentially by decades.
Remote work options were once a nice carrot to offer in a benefits package, but those days are gone. As the post-pandemic economy takes off, there will be unforeseen numbers of highly talented individuals looking to re-enter the workforce. Flexibility with regards to remote work and vacation structure will be an expectation, rather than an incentive.
In the case of vacation packages, many people have realized they can do their jobs anywhere. People may want the flexibility to go on working vacations where they work half-days from a resort in the Caribbean.
Given the international wake-up call delivered by the pandemic and other events in 2020, the understanding of a “perk” is shifting. Gone are the days when an annual gym membership will entice. At this point, many fitness enthusiasts have figured out that they can work out at home or outdoors for free.
The benefits package of the post-pandemic world will have perks like on-demand streaming services, and home teleconferencing subscriptions. Often group bundles are available for these services.
But some of the “perks” will need to be more somber in response to this new climate. Companies will need to explore options to partner with legal, financial, and community engagement services to be sensitive to the workforce’s need for perks that provide an added security net amidst uncertainty. If you’re looking for more tips on internal communications, then make sure to contact us at backstitch today.
Need to inform your employees of their benefits plans? Check out our digital, interactive, total rewards statements.