This article was originally published on HR Daily Advisor on June 2, 2020.
Have you reevaluated your employee benefits package since social distancing was implemented? It’s likely that your pre-pandemic perks, plans, and promises won’t hold up after COVID-19 passes. You’ll need new, creative benefits to retain talented employees and snag new superstars.
How your company reacts and realigns during this crisis will help you retain top talent. Your employees will remember the actions you took far beyond the scope of the pandemic—that legacy will live on. If your legacy is not a good one, you’ll likely lose people once the job market improves. Keeping your talented employees happy at work will be key to surviving a post-COVID-19 world.
A key response your company should have to the COVID-19 pandemic is to examine and rebuild benefits packages. By the time our world hits a post-pandemic stride, the benefits you promoted a year ago will seem antiquated and stale. Your employees will be living in a new normal, and they’ll expect you to adjust along with them.
In addition, many companies are undergoing transitions, restructurings, and downsizings as a result of the pandemic, which is leaving many talented people jobless. When it comes time to hire, you’ll want to make sure your company’s benefits package appeals to the best of the best.
Take remote work, for instance. Once thought of as a perk of progressive organizations, telework has now become commonplace. You can no longer count on grabbing talented workers’ attention with the chance to work from their living rooms. They know it’s possible.
Similarly, other benefits—like generous vacation policies and fitness stipends—won’t feel the same. The post-coronavirus world will likely see a rise in the number of digital nomads itching to combine their work lives and vacation time, and gym memberships won’t hold quite as much allure because people are learning to exercise at home for free. You may not need to start from scratch, but you should evaluate whether existing policies will hold up in a post-pandemic world.
3 Benefits to Retain Employees and Impress Candidates
In the midst of all your resiliency planning, you should revisit every aspect of your company’s benefits package: What doesn’t belong anymore? What do you wish you could include? To get you started, we’ve listed three benefits that will be crucial for worker retention in mid-2020 and the coming years.
1. Comprehensive Healthcare Plans
The global impact of COVID-19—and the repercussions of widespread layoffs—means people value healthcare plans in a way they never have before. The topic of health care is pertinent for many families, and it will likely be an even bigger priority in future employment decisions. Employer-provided health care can go a long way in helping team members feel secure, stable, and cared for.
COVID-19 taught the world that it’s truly better to be prepared for the worse than caught off guard. Take that to heart when it comes to the healthcare plans you offer employees. In terms of network, go broad rather than narrow. Find plans that include concierge doctors and services. Prospective employees will be looking for employer-covered plans that will never put them in the position of making hard decisions to get care they can’t afford.
2. Reimbursement Assistance for Student Loans
The coronavirus is stifling the global economy, and the reality of the American student loan crisis has become even more pressing for many people. Recent graduates owe more than $1.5 trillion collectively, and their situations will only get worse if the economy continues to nosedive. Even if the government eventually provides some loan relief, workers could use assistance now.
In 2019, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that only 4% of employers offered student loan assistance. However, the onetime stimulus bill in response to COVID-19 includes tax benefits for employers that assist workers with student loan debt. This is an opportunity to provide a benefit that very few employers offer.
3. Entertainment, Delivery, and Other Key Services
When the world effectively shut down brick-and-mortar retailers, services, and entertainment, people began exploring on-demand services. They use curbside grocery pickup, Instacart, Postmates, drive-thru medical testing, and virtual learning services.
On-demand streaming, teleconference, and entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Zoom, and FaceTime make quarantine life easier, and people are embracing the change of pace.
This is where your benefits package can get particularly creative: Your business could likely secure reduced-price memberships to a host of services. Even if your company is small, you could coordinate strategic partnerships with other entities to provide services at a discount.
Take this idea beyond entertainment and nice-to-haves. Your company could partner with others that offer legal help, financial services, and community connections. If you can find local outlets, even better! Your employees will likely appreciate your community-building efforts more than ever.
We’re experiencing an unprecedented global event, so your company’s response will have long-term effects on all of your team members. Begin building a legacy of goodwill by revamping your benefits packages. You’ll be happy you did after the job market improves and your employees stay put.
The challenges to businesses from the COVID-19 epidemic are opportunities to plan better. If you're looking for more answers on how to be prepared for economic downturn, check out our Recession Proof Your Business Guide.