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Positive Benefits COVID-19 Has on Employee Benefit Plans

COVID-19 turned out to be a hump on the road to success for many businesses worldwide, especially for the employees. There have been lay-offs, radical operation changes, sudden shifts to work-from-home setups, coupled with the stresses that naturally come with a pandemic. It seemed like nothing good could come of the situation. But, despite the dire picture, there are still silver linings, namely for employee benefit plans

To keep businesses running and their employees satisfied, companies are now bringing in more employee benefits, including health covers, retirement benefits, wellness programs or other kinds of fringes through different mediums. Here are four positive benefits COVID-19 has brought to employee benefit plans:

  1. From physical care to virtual healthcare:

Following the norms of COVID-19, like social distancing and travel limitations, in-person care turned out not to be an option for many. However, virtual healthcare saw an exponential rise. 

The internet has turned to be a widely used medium by employees for receiving diagnostic appointments, follow-ups, medication reviews and prescriptions, and counselling from medical professionals.

Read more: The Balance Between Benefit Costs & Employee Well-Being

The healthcare industry operates on a similar 9-5 schedule. Still, telemedicine gives employers and employees the possibility to access care outside of work hours that, in return, ensures less stress and less risk for employees who are in search of medical advice or attention. Nearly all companies that offer group health care plans are likely to offer telemedicine services as part of their offering in the upcoming year. The key benefits that employees would receive out of virtual healthcare plans are listed down:

  • 24/7 Service
  • More Productivity
  • Reduced healthcare costs
  • Reduced unnecessary ER visits
  • Employee encouragement

  1. From mental stress to mental care:

The year 2020 filled the environment with a lot of problems. COVID-19 being one of the prime reasons, but many faced a mental health-related emergency. As per researchers, the mental health-related emergency skyrocketed in 2020 by affecting more than one-fifth of young children and more than 30% of tweens and teens. The figures aren’t surprising as staying at home implied loneliness and depression, leading to increased stress. On the other hand, it even gave rise to online and phone-based counselling where employers and employees can access different types of support.

Remote counselling enables the employees to now benefit from mental health-related guidance, advice, and support. The best part being all the services can be availed from the comfort and safety of the home. For instance, Starbucks combatted the mental health stigma of its employees with free therapy. Employers can aid their employees in coping with mental stress by ensuring the following:

  • Parental leaves because the work-life imbalance is a cause of mental stress.
  • Affordable child care because it is tough to cover all expenses while sitting at home.
  • Education assistance because no matter what, the education needs of a child cannot be compromised

  1. From offline claim process to online insurance:

The insurers always worked with a pen and paper as no online procedure was available previously. With the onset of COVID-19, the insurers went online. Many benefit plan providers updated their online claim submission process to make it easier for the public to submit their claims. Improving the benefit payment turnaround times turned out to be another crucial reason for bringing such an update. 

Read more: Employers Can Help Employees With Substance Abuse During COVID-19

Almost all the companies offered online travel insurance plans across Canada, whereas some even offered disability insurance that paid for COVID-related illnesses. In a later phase, flexible parameters allowing faster life insurance purchases without the requirement of any in-person medical examination were introduced.

A few of the advantages after the introduction of online insurance plans are listed below:

  • Increased productivity
  • Boost in morale
  • Positive company culture

  1. From rigidity to flexibility in benefits plans:

The benefits plan providers introduced flexibility in delivering the benefits that helped them present a heap of malleable services that turned into a trouble saver for the employees.

The employees now felt the company had their back, and the employers were concerned about them. This enabled them to work with more dedication and enthusiasm. A few of the flexible plans that were introduced after the COVID-19 outspread are noted below:

  • Premium relief 
  • Premium payment extensions 
  • Elimination of waiting periods for employees who contracted coronavirus 
  • Extending benefit coverage for laid-off employees.

COVID-19 is a catalyst for change. While there are quite a lot of negative impacts, it is likely to improve certain areas. The alterations made in the plans have undoubtedly led to the betterment of the relationships of employers and employees. Employers can act as soon as possible to support their employees’ ability to care for themselves and others, and while they do so, they improve their workplace performance.  Employers are making progress and looking for benefits in addition to better support employees. Welcome to the new normal!

Read more: Managing Costs in Your Business Through Employee Attrition

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