5 Employee Benefits that Decrease the Impact of COVID-19

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Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: June 24th, 2020

Guest Post by Anastasia Iliou

What is your company doing to support employees through COVID-19?

Aside from genuinely caring about your employees, their well-being directly impacts your company’s success. Happier employees are bound to be much more productive and loyal. You need to budget for good benefits that help keep your team happy and motivated. 

Everyone’s eyes are on employers right now to see how they react in a crisis, and your employees are your biggest ambassadors. The happier your employees are, the more productive and supportive they are likely to be. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing tactics out there, and who better to spread the good word about your company than the people who are there every day?

If you have employees who are struggling due to reduced hours, high medical costs, loss of other family income, etc. due to COVID-19, any of these employee benefits can help minimize the damage and make you a hero:

Great health care choices

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a great reason for you to review your company’s current health care options. Are you offering enough options? Do the plans you offer include a telehealth option? Do the plans cover COVID-19 testing and treatment? 

Making positive changes to your health care options (even if you have to wait until next year to enact the changes) can help you show your employees that you care about their well-being. You need your employees to stay healthy. If your employees are coming to work sick because they can’t afford to visit a doctor, you’re going to end up with a sick and unproductive workforce. It is in both your employees/ best interest and yours to offer good health care.

Additional mental health benefits

Back in April, 45 percent of adults reported that COVID-19 negatively impacted their mental health. If as much as 45 percent of your workforce could be facing serious mental anguish, you need to prioritize mental health benefits! When your employees are not mentally healthy, they probably can’t focus as well, they are likely less productive, and they might show up to work with a poor attitude. 

Aside from the mental health care that your insurance offerings will provide, what else are you doing for your employee’s mental health? One of the best ways that you can show that you care as an employer is to offer a subscription to a mental health service like Talkspace. You can also offer “mental health days” as a part of your sick leave policy, you can designate a “zen room” in your office where employees can go to take a deep breath, and you can offer occasional yoga or meditation sessions during the workday. If you prefer a more hands-off approach, you can supply gift cards or provide a stipend for mental health care.

Strong family leave policies

If you don’t already have one, now would be a great time to enact an inclusive family leave policy that allows employees to take an official leave to take care of sick family members without having to worry about their job. Family leave is a benefit that your employees will hope they never have to use, but will feel better knowing it’s there. It’s another great way to show your employees that you care.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Labor added a temporary rule that will expire on December 31, 2020, in regards to COVID-19. The rule states that the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires employers to provide up to 10 weeks of paid (and two weeks unpaid) emergency family and medical leave. This rule only applies for employees who are caring for a child whose school or other care facility is closed. 

Additionally, the Family Medical Leave Act requires that employers provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees who need to quarantine, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or are caring for a child.

Once that rule expires, you have an opportunity to show that you care about your employees by enacting your own family and medical leave benefits.

On-demand pay

Sometimes called early wage access, on-demand pay is a benefit that usually does not cost employers anything but can have a huge positive impact on employees. By signing up for an on-demand pay app, you won’t have to do the work yourself — your employees can simply log into the app and get paid any day they want.

Especially during a financial crisis or now during COVID-19, it can make a huge difference for your employees to not have to wait two weeks (or longer) to collect their paycheck. The longer they have to wait, the more debt they’re going to fall into while trying to support their families. 

If your company is the one to provide them with on-demand pay, they’re more likely to stay loyal to you. 

Time off for community service

People who are lucky enough to still have good jobs through the pandemic may be thinking about ways they can help the less fortunate. As a company, you might be thinking the same thing. One way that you can serve your community is by allowing your employees to take time away from work to serve. That means that an employee who wants to work at a soup kitchen for a few hours on a Monday should not be required to use their PTO days. 

You can manage this by offering one workday per quarter or a few days per year that employees can choose to complete community service instead of showing up to work. Alternatively, you can organize company-wide community service events in your local community. Host food drives and blood drives, sponsor local events, send a group of employees to clean up local schools and parks, etc. 

Of course, benefit needs will vary by industry and company and these decisions should not be taken lightly. It is important, however, that every company take a look at how their employees were affected by COVID-19 and come up with a solution to better protect them moving forward.

Anastasia Iliou is the marketing lead at Rain Instant Pay. Rain is an on-demand pay and financial wellness benefit for employees. Rain’s mission is to put an end to predatory financial products like payday loans.

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