( By Elton Mwangi)
As the coronavirus cases reach 3.5 million in the United States – at the time of writing this – you have to agree that the pandemic has been an upending whirl of ominous news. Think about it: the massive deaths, the for sure furloughs and the layoffs, the increased violence and unrest, and the overall hit to the global economy. Even the jobs typically assumed to be “safe” like government, health care, and technical jobs have not escaped the COVID-19 wrath.
Inevitably, challenges concerning implementation of the top 5 employee benefits, which include health insurance and paid time off, have emerged. Employees are now looking for employers to take action against the challenges at hand as companies begin to reopen. As an active employer, it is time to respond in kind by considering new benefit options through leveraging and creating workplace benefits that speak to the current needs of your employees.
These are 5 of the best employee benefits that would be beneficial during these uncertain times.
- Financial Counseling Benefits
These are unprecedented times of financial hardship: the economy is facing dire volatility. One, reduced income is forcing many people to question their lifestyle. Two, revenue sources are continually diminishing. Three, the financial burden and strain are steadily increasing. The sad truth is, many people have no idea how they can manage their finances.
In a Morgan Stanley study, 74 percent of employees admitted that a financial wellness program would be beneficial for their financial management. This is where you come in as an employer. Offer financial counseling benefits to help your employees change their financial behavior by becoming more confident and clear about personal finances. The resources you offer will help your employees understand and then develop a plan for these strenuous financial situations.
- Extended Paid Time Off
You can make this an area of focus to help your employees maneuver the pandemic effects. Say an employee’s family member tests positive for the virus: they might need to stay home to take care of their children or other family members. Therefore, offer them an extended period of paid leave to help them cater to their particular needs.
Or, you can adapt the buy/buyback programs. This package gives your employees the flexibility to choose the exclusive employee benefits they need. Besides, the extended paid-time-off (PTO) buy/buyback programs will allow you to meet the needs of your employees head-on. Alternatively, adapt a leave sharing program that lets your employees donate accrued leave days among themselves.
- Eldercare or Childcare Assistance
This might be one of the crucial benefit options among the top 5 employee benefits to consider. Why? Well, according to WHO, the elderly and the children are the most susceptible group to the coronavirus infections. Therefore, they need more attention and care if they are to survive the pandemic.
Besides, daycare centers and schools are currently closed, which means companies need to up their creativity when it comes to childcare and eldercare benefit packages. Consider adding the number of coverage days for each employee or offer a crisis assist benefit package instead. This will address the increased need to care for the children and the elderly.
- Additional Medical Benefits
Medicaid, health insurance, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are some of the medical benefits packages that employees have benefited from since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, more can be done to help employees overcome the burden of medical costs during these unfortunate times.
For instance, offer medical tourism benefits to employees that need to travel to a different location to access medical treatment. If you can, be open-handed and offer to pay part or all of the medical premiums for your furloughed or laid off employees when they get medical coverage from other sources.
- Special Cash Bonuses
Sometimes, cash is king. So instead of offering programs or packages aimed at helping your employees, that might take some time to implement, go for instant cash bonuses. Offer zero-interest loans, relief funds, or an increase in hourly wages. The act will appreciate your employee’s hard work and simultaneously help them pay for their expenses.
Get on the bandwagon and help your employees navigate these uncertain times. All you have to do is consider implementing these workplace benefits: financial counseling benefits, extended paid time off, eldercare or childcare assistance, additional medical benefits, special cash bonuses, and you are good to go. When designing your top 5 employee benefits, remember to consider the incentives, the eligibility, and the impact they will have on your employees.