As restrictions ease and infection rates wane across the United States, the country’s workforce seems poised to make a triumphant return to a booming economy. There’s just one problem: no one, from front-line cashiers to white-collar workers, is the same as they were a year ago. Mental and physical health have both taken a beating since March 2020, and if your company’s benefits package doesn’t address the issues many employees are facing, then the road to recovery will be a long one.
What benefits do your employees need to move forward? Let’s take a look at the best ways your benefits package can support your workforce post-pandemic.
Time Off: Benefits Addressing Burn-out
One of the most frequent complaints over the past year has been burn-out. Information workers stuck at home worked until the wee hours, unable to differentiate between work and play hours when there was nowhere to go outside their living room. Front-line workers pulled double shifts and mandatory overtime even as customers reportedly grew more and more difficult to deal with in the face of Covid restrictions and blocked supply chains.
One big player for addressing burn-out includes PTO — not just offering paid time off, but actually incentivizing it and offering more flexible leave policies. Encouraging employees to use their PTO increases productivity, decreases the likelihood of issuing sick or disability leave, and enhances innovation. Allowing employees to take caregiving or family leave offers the same benefits. At the same time, prioritizing PTO and leave benefits can pay off for your company in terms of enhanced recruitment and retention.
Mental Health Benefits
A top talking point that isn’t going away any time soon, the mental health toll the pandemic has taken on workers, especially younger ones, must be addressed if workers are going to get back on their feet. A majority of Gen Z and millennial workers reported mental health issues during the pandemic. Younger workers were more unprepared for the pandemic’s economic and lifestyle stressors than older ones, with less security in jobs and housing, and a wider debt to earnings ratio. Gen Z and millennials are more likely to speak up about mental health issues, but they’re also less likely to know about support from their employer.
The first step is to offer mental health support through benefits programs. But the second step is communicating these offerings with employees. Keep pushing out comms that talk up benefits supporting mental health, including addiction or substance abuse, and work with your company’s leadership to help them spot and talk about mental health issues in the workplace.
Financial Wellness Benefits
Furloughs, lost hours, unemployment: many households suffered financially during the pandemic. As mentioned above, younger workers found their debt and living expenses an even larger concern than before; older workers are even more concerned about their health and retirement. Many workers who found themselves homebound also discovered that they didn’t have enough space for their families to learn, work, and live around them, causing a spike in housing costs which is still in full force.
Helping employees deal with financial stress and emerge with better options for savings, retirement, and investment will be a key benefit offering for the coming years. Financial literacy programs which offer employees the ability to work through their finances or attend webinars and professional sessions will help your workforce achieve greater stability and confidence. And this, in turn will create a happier, more productive workforce.
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