With the COVID-19 pandemic subsiding, employees who have been working at home are now beginning to return to the office. Business travel is starting to resume as well. A “new normal” in the workplace is rising before us—so what are the employee benefit priorities we should be paying attention to?
Financial well-being options are likely at the top of the list for many employees. Even though many aspects of our lives are opening back up, much of what occurred in the past year is still with us. Employees who were hit hard financially due to the pandemic – through layoffs, salary cutbacks, a spouse losing their job, and more – are still in recovery mode.
Voluntary benefits which not so long ago were thought of as “nice to have,” today are a “must have” in benefits packages. And just as flexibility has been key for how businesses operated and how the workplace and the people in it changed during the pandemic, so is the approach to employee benefits in our new world. Employers should consider adding more voluntary benefits to provide flexibility for employees to choose benefits that are going to help them the most. Adding voluntary benefits which have no budget impact for employers and allow employees to choose what is important to them is an easy way to expand workplace benefits offerings.
There are several types of voluntary benefits that would be of interest to employees in our new normal. High on the list in healthcare offerings are telemedicine and expanded mental health services. Some employees might be interested in supplemental hospital indemnity and critical illness options after having family members or friends who were hospitalized or diagnosed with COVID-19 and seeing the added value of additional benefits. There was a huge spike in identity theft and fraudulent unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic, so identity theft protection is another voluntary benefit that some employees may want. And don’t forget pet insurance which will be important for all those employees who adopted pets during the pandemic.
Now is also a good time to take inventory of the financial wellness benefits in the employee benefits package. In addition to an employee purchase program to assist employees in easily obtaining products and services they need through payroll deduction without a credit check, consider benefits that address different aspects of financial well-being. These include financial counseling, bill payment programs, medical deductible financing, student loan repayment benefit programs, and automatic savings programs.
Communication about financial well-being benefits should not be overlooked. A February 2021 Arizton report revealed that 35% of workers at large companies have “no clue” their employer offers benefits that include financial wellness. Make sure your employees are well-informed about financial well-being benefits available to them – the ones they might need the most in our new normal.
Written by: Mike Wilbert, Purchasing Power Chief Revenue Officer