The stakes are higher. Of the many challenges put forth by COVID-19, maintaining team morale and productivity seem to have taken the center stage. One of the ways to accomplish this feat is to design a well-thought employee benefits and compensation program or to leverage a good benefits administration solution.
It’s a no-brainer that benefits are a key assurance that people have during these crazy times. It becomes critical for employers and HR teams to keep all communication lines open for employees and guide them along the way about the benefits program – whether they continue to work from home or rejoin in-house operations.
HR leaders are trying to collect as much information to help employees navigate the complexities of benefits programs. During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the safety and wellbeing of employees must be a top priority.
The four criteria that must be assessed by employers are:
- Paid-time off (PTO) policies
- Short-term disability
- Layoff provisions
- Medical coverage
Here are four types of benefits that employees can take advantage of:
Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
Since lockdown, many employees have been working from home, and for some, it’s been a challenge. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of self-isolation and working remotely. Anxiety and stress often seep in. EAPs can help employees manage stress and anxiety and promote emotional wellbeing. They also allow employees to have confidential conversations online or over the phone on a wide range of work and personal issues, including financial guidance, mental counseling, and other resources.
Mental and physical health benefits
This public health crisis seems like an apt time to consider routing gym membership reimbursements to employees for taking care of their mental health. It’s recommended that the employees adhere to their pre-COVID daily office work routine that often-included physical workouts. The employers can evaluate offering free online resources to employees to leverage their creative potential, while continuing to work from home. Encourage employees to use meditation and other wellness applications to stay motivated and productive. Send regular communications with recommendations for physical activities such as walks and yoga while practicing social distancing. Though you’d raise eyebrows at us for counting this in benefits, it’ll most likely help employees stay mentally, physically, and emotionally fit.
Telehealth uses various technologies such as email, video conferencing, mobile health applications, or phone calls to help deliver medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care. It’s particularly useful during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis when the state governments want people to continue to shelter-in-place. Not only will telecommunications and digital communication technologies help contain the spread of the disease by encouraging people to stay put and seek health care, but it also provides at-risk populations an opportunity to receive medical services without visiting the doctor.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was expanded with new legislation. It’s now known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and applies to companies with fewer than 500 employees. It provides up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for employees who’ve been at these companies for at least 30 days and are unable to work on-site or remotely due to specified family and medical reasons.
This legislation also provides 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees under specific circumstances listed in the legislature. If you employ less than 500 employees, you must communicate these changes to your employees. However, if you employ more than 500 workers, then it’s not applicable.
There are many more resources available that employees can refer to. It’s a perfect time for employers to over-communicate. Employees might have many questions on mind about their job security, paid leave and other aspects during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. And, you as their employer must take those questions head-on.