Pandemic Drives Changes to Employee Benefits

Virtually no aspect of the workplace has avoided the impact of COVID-19, but employee benefits might be the place where the effects are most profound. Because the post-pandemic world is still taking shape, the overall impact on benefits is not entirely clear, but one thing is certain: Change is coming. In fact, in a recent survey, 98% of responding company leaders said they expect to offer new or expanded benefits in the wake of COVID-19. The following are some ways that those changes could take shape.

Health benefits re-examination. As the most expensive piece of employee benefits, health benefits are always being scrutinized, but now we have a new context for assessing them. Watch for increased support for telehealth, a greater examination of out-of-pocket costs and a continued push for employees to become savvier healthcare consumers.

New childcare options. With more than 1 million workers having to leave the workforce to care for children during the pandemic, employers realize they need a better plan for parent employees. The result is sure to be new forms of support for working families.

Mental health support. The pandemic was not just a physical health emergency; it was also a mental health emergency. Recognizing this, many employers are looking to increase their support of mental healthcare.

Hybrid work options. If you are one of the 56% of the U.S. workforce that holds a job that is compatible with remote work, you may be finding that a lot of those employees like not going to a workplace every day. Many of these companies are seeing more flexibility in the way workdays are structured, and also more reimbursement for work-from-home expenses.

Off-site benefits. If employees are able to work remotely, they may start seeing benefits that work remotely, too. Experts anticipate a shift away from location-specific options – like on-site daycare, commuter benefits or office meals – to perks that cater to offsite workers, if that option is available.

Charitable giving support. As a lot of people were inspired to give to charitable organizations during the pandemic, employers see that they can win points with their workers and their communities by facilitating giving and by letting the world know how they are using their resources to make the world a better place.

The “extras.” As employers seek to set themselves apart in a competitive hiring marketplace, watch for more “extras” like pet insurance, student loan assistance and elder care considerations.

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