The pandemic has had an enormous impact on every aspect of our lives, including the way employees view employee benefits. Employers are having to rethink what kind of perks, benefits and incentives will keep workers engaged and offer a competitive advantage in a post-pandemic world.
A recent Wall Street Journal article chronicled the changing attitudes of workers who are working remotely or in hybrid settings. In virtually all cases, needs have shifted to practices that contribute to employee well-being beyond the office.
Hybrid Work Model
As coronavirus vaccines become increasingly available, many employers are starting to make plans to bring employees back into the office. However, a lot of employees are ready to turn in their office parking pass in exchange for home office equipment – at least part of time.
In January 2021, 44% of U.S. workers working remotely surveyed by Gallup said they prefer to work from home once restrictions are lifted, while 39% said they want to return to the office.
Here at Allied, we have implemented a hybrid model where employees from some departments rotate working from home one or two days each week. “It’s good for people to have face-to-face contact – believe it or not it can actually improve our immune system,” said Executive Vice President Gary Ashley. “However, in this ‘new normal’ we’re living in, we want to make sure our employees feel safe and are taking care of their mental health and wellbeing. By shifting to a hybrid work model, we can better serve the needs of our dedicated employees while also keeping productivity levels high.”
Of course, every employer should evaluate their own situation to see what works best for their employees and the overall success of their business.
When popular job search site Indeed surveyed 1,000 remote workers about the future of work, results made it clear that the need to support people’s mental and physical health outside of the workplace will continue long after the pandemic is over. Perks such as paid time off, flexible and remote working options and paid family leave are giving employees the support they need in a changing world. Depending on age and other workforce demographics, free therapy, personal financial planning advice and access to parenting coaches are doing a great deal to improve quality of life.
Allied’s partners at AiRCare, a behavioral health company that works with our HealthCare Assistant program, have provided telephone counseling to our major medical members throughout the pandemic –100% covered by the health plan.
Changes to Family Leave and Paid Time Off
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reports that 63% of employers have made at least some change to their leave policies because of the pandemic. For employees who are also parents or caregivers, many have introduced emergency leave for childcare and eldercare. More than 10% are identifying resources and referrals for childcare, tutoring and backup or emergency child and eldercare with some providing financial assistance.
Companies also are supporting mental and physical health by instituting mandatory time off. Some do this by adding holidays or creating four-day weekends while other companies, like LinkedIn, surprised their full-time employees with an entire week off. Either way, employers and employees view these changes as some of the best things their company is doing during the pandemic.
Post-COVID Employee Rewards
If your business has experienced financial despair during the pandemic, it may be nearly impossible for you to offer monetary rewards to your employees. The good news is there are non-monetary recognition programs you can implement to show appreciation for employees’ performance. In fact, according to a study done by the Incentive Research Federation for the Incentive Marketing Association, 65% of employees prefer non-monetary incentives instead of monetary rewards.
Here are five ideas you can implement right now:
What have you done to adjust to the “new normal” at your company? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear from you!
Founded in 1970, Allied is one of the nation's oldest and most experienced third-party administrators. Allied National is a 90 Degree Benefits Company, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. As the small group benefit experts, Allied works with small business employers to provide unique and affordable group health benefits.
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Allied National is a 90 Degree Benefits Company, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. Founded in 1970, Allied National is one of the nation's oldest and most experienced third-party administrators. We're the small group benefit experts working to provide unique and affordable group health benefits to small business employers.