• Sasha Kudler

Because of COVID-19, Companies Are Switching Up Their Priorities: is Your Company Keeping Up?

Now that we’re three months into quarantine (doesn’t it feel more like three years?) companies have had a little more time to consider how they’ll move forward with employee benefits for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Although best benefit practices are constantly shifting and changing, this year we expected to see an even larger shift in employee benefits than usual — and according to survey results recently published by advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, it turns out our expectation was right on the money.

In an article recently published on their website, Willis Towers Watson examines how changes to benefits are developing throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Not only are the results of the survey super interesting, they are also invaluable to employers looking to stay at or above industry standard.

So is your company keeping up? Let’s find out!

Better Health Benefits

We think that every company should be taking this time to think about how they can build a more robust health benefits system — and apparently, according to the survey results, plenty of companies agree. As you might expect, employers expect health care costs to rise over the next year as a result of coronavirus. With that in mind, Willis Towers Watson provided us with some pretty great statistics:

Over 80% [of employers] have or are planning to offer/expand access to virtual mental health services.
About two in five employers are planning to revise their 2021 health care strategy.
Nearly two-thirds (66%) of companies will prioritize access to high-quality mental health solutions in their 2021 health care program.

Let’s unpack those a little: according to the survey, 80% of employers will focus more energy on promoting virtual medical care — a practical choice during the pandemic that could potentially transform the future of healthcare in the years to come. On top of that, 40% of employers are planning to revise their 2021 health care strategy. While specific revisions are vague, one thing is very clear: companies that want to have competitive health care packages should be thinking about how they can implement changes moving forward, if they aren’t already.

Focusing on the Future

When it comes to planning for the future, especially these days, it can be difficult for businesses to know where to start. But according to the survey results, many businesses are still trying to move forward by easing the burden being placed not only on their employees, but also on their employees’ pensions.

Of course depending how businesses are performing financially, offering that support may or may not be easy. On the plus side, looking at retirement plans specifically, Willis Towers Watson discovered that many employees are adopting changes enabled by the CARES Act, which will allow their employees more flexible access to their retirement assets. And while struggling businesses are more likely to take cost cutting actions in relation to retirement plans, 80% of employers surveyed have no immediate plans to cut retirement benefits. In fact, 23% of those surveyed intend to enhance their retirement benefits in the next year.

Broader Wellbeing

In general, despite all of the hardships we have experienced these last few months, many organizations are taking concrete steps to improve the lives of their employees in the coming year — hopefully, your organization will be among them!

The survey provides a lot of statistics suggesting that employee wellbeing is a top-of-mind issue for many employers — so much so that 45% of employers actively confirmed that they planned to increase wellbeing programs in their organization within the next year. As the article we linked mentions, there are plenty of other stats worth noting as well:

42% [of employers] have made or plan to make changes to paid time off or vacation/sick leave programs to boost flexibility.
60% of employers offer new virtual solutions that are easy to implement to support the mental health and wellbeing of employees working from home (e.g., virtual workouts, virtual social gatherings).
Over half of employers (51%) provide or are planning to provide manager training on recognizing signs of anxiety and/or depression, and how to refer to resources such as employee assistance programs.

As these numbers indicate, although many employers are still unsure how to implement changes (especially on top of all the current upheaval) there is a positive trend towards thinking about how to improve employee benefits. We hope that this continues to be a trend not just for this year, but for many years to come.

If you have any questions about improving employee benefits, or are looking to partner with a company that will take the hassle out of benefits management, feel free to reach out to us at support@getbenepass.com.


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