“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Have you ever heard the saying? Well, this quote rings true regarding employee benefits during COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, employers have had to make swift and drastic changes to their benefit packages. Before the pandemic, it would sometimes take years for companies to adapt their employee benefits offerings. Due to the extreme changes the coronavirus brought, companies scrambled to adjust their benefit offerings to post-pandemic life. Even though there was a lot of uncertainty during COVID-19, it looks like the chaos that ensued throughout the pandemic will lead to a more robust and helpful benefits package for employees. There will be many changes to the benefits employers offer employees, and hopefully, these changes will create a better employer-employee relationship for years to come.
Throughout the pandemic, many individuals went through tremendous amounts of stress. Whether it be anxiety about work, childcare, or the pandemic, many individuals’ mental health started to deteriorate. According to a study conducted by the CDC, 40% of adults struggled with either their mental health or substance abuse. As a result of the increased stress, anxiety, and depression, companies started to look into growing their Employee Assistance Programs or EAPs. EAPs provide services like meetings with professional counselors, substance abuse support, and financial planning courses. In addition to growing their EAP offerings, companies started supplying employees with meditation apps to decrease their stress. Organizations hoped that providing more resources to help employees achieve better mental health would lead to increased productivity. Think about it, when your stressed, can you work to your full potential? The answer is probably no. As a solution, companies are working to combat mental health problems to benefit both the employee and the organization.
We all had to have at least one experience during the pandemic where we were on a Zoom meeting, and it was interrupted by your co-worker’s child. With remote work looking like it will be here to stay, companies have been looking into benefits that will help with childcare. Before the pandemic, some companies had onsite childcare, so the parents never stressed about leaving their kids alone. With many parents now working at home for most of the week, COVID has caused a shift from a need for onsite childcare to offsite childcare. With this shift, many companies are looking into providing childcare resources to their employees. During the pandemic, companies started offering access to childcare sites, employer contributions to employee’s dependent-care flexible spending account, and access to discounts for camps that their children can attend. It can be hard to be productive and get your work done with children running around your home. Companies want to help employees find care for their children so that they can get their work done while working from home.
Another benefit that many companies are looking to expand or offer for the first time is telemedicine. During the early days of the pandemic, many Primary Care Providers were closed, leaving individuals two options. Either go to urgent care or utilize telemedicine. Many people chose the latter to avoid the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. According to a CDC study, telehealth visits were up 154% from 2019. Before the pandemic, some didn’t believe that telehealth was a reliable way to receive treatment. Many individuals have had to use telemedicine and have had positive experiences with it, leading to employees requesting for telemedicine to be a part of their benefits package. The increase in demand for telehealth services has resulted in employers adding this benefit to their coverage plan.
COVID-19 has brought out a lot of change in the world, and employee benefits are no exception. The changes that have resulted from the pandemic look like they will improve the benefits offered to employees. If companies don’t adapt, it could lead to employees resigning in search of a more robust benefit plan. Chaos causes change, and this change looks like it will benefit employees for years to come.