The Covid-19 pandemic changed the dynamic of our social and economic affairs. In a matter of months, entire teams, companies, and markets had to pivot and adapt to the new circumstances and restrictions.
In droves, the working force started to work from home. With this move, the employee's wellness and benefits packages had to be redefined on the spot. The interest shifted towards mental health, financial wellness, telehealth, and caregiving services.
However, almost a year and a half later, it's time for employees to migrate again, back to the office. And a new era of employee benefits packages is beginning. One that's defined by an increase in mobility and overall security.
Employees want improvement and development in every area, from health and wellness to new technological solutions. Nevertheless, not every generation and social group needs or wants the same benefits package. The Boomer generation is focused on retirement support, while generation Z is on student loans. Millennials are interested in child care and financial wellness, while Generation X is on senior care and 401k.
If we segment this further by gender, women generally had a hard time during the pandemic because they had to work from home and take care of the household and the children. In fact, three million women in the U.S. left the labor force in 2020, and the fact that daycare centers and schools closed made it harder for them to work.
And not every policy drafted with women in mind can help every woman. The pandemic hit African-American and Latina women the hardest, which hurt their communities and families by extension.
Thus, the challenges HR professionals face in the landscape of employee benefits post-covid are diverse and myriad. Hence, we compiled a data-driven list that can help the human resources teams navigate the changes.
1) Perks & Benefits Designed for WFH
Before Covid-19, flexibility was a perk, but in today's climate is a must. However, you want to cut the pie, most employees will need the flexibility to choose between the office and working from home.
In fact, according to a Standford study, employees working from home show an increase in productivity by 13%. And that's not all, redesigning wellness benefits and perks per location seems to be the most prudent path forward. Employees that choose to work from home have a different set of challenges than employees that want to be in the office.
HR teams can focus on providing workers with a stipend for home offices or reimbursement for supplies.
2) Shining a Light on Mental Health
The negative side-effects of remote work and hyper-productivity are increased stress levels and digital overload. Since the working models are changing rapidly, fatigue factors are quickly coming into play, resulting in declining mental health. Thus, providing programs and access to mental and behavioral health services can help employees steer clear from burnout.
After the pandemic, mental health support will be a crucial employee benefit because of the negative impact facilitated by isolation, new social and economic barriers, and overall stress. Moreover, HR professionals should also focus on providing support and one-on-ones with employees, which will keep them in the loop about the company's climate.
3) Financial Wellness as a Necessity
One of the dominant factors in the mental health crisis is the economic uncertainty and lack of safety that befell over 7.7 million workers because of the pandemic. Thus, companies must rethink where financial wellness will fit as a benefit. Poor financial health impacts every aspect of a person's life, including productivity.
Moreover, the main focus for employees after the pandemic will be on financial literacy, which goes hand in hand with financial wellness as an employee perk. Employers that offer financial literacy and financial wellness programs and provide access to e-learning platforms and applications will see a huge return for employee retention and acquisition.
4) A Defined Career Path
Focusing on performance reviews, drafting detailed career plans, and providing education and training opportunities have always been sought after. However, after Covid-19 and the impact of remote work, these employee benefits will hugely impact employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
Virtual networking and e-learning platforms are common for most companies today. They allow employees to learn a new useful skill that can lead to faster career progression.
5) Care & Support
As the Covid-19 pandemic showed us, work and life are often intertwined, affecting each other. Thus, calibrating employee benefits on this assumption makes it easier for HR teams to draft new packages that employees will find useful and competitive.
As we noted at the beginning of the article, different groups have different needs. Still, caregiving is prevalent for almost all of them.
During the pandemic, 83% of adult children have sought new care options for the senior members of their families, and 1.2 million women had to leave the labor force because they had to take care of their children. Considering the numbers, it's evident that companies that want productive and highly engaged employees need to provide them with care options in the employee benefits package.
On a Final Note
Even though most of these policies are dictated by HR teams and the C-suite, that doesn't mean that employees can't be proactive and ask for these perks and benefits. The patterns are in the data, and they are abundantly clear when it comes to designing a great employee benefits package for a post-covid world.