Reviewing Staffing Agency Employee Benefits in the Time of COVID-19
Published October 15, 2020
Open enrollment for employee benefits typically occurs during the fall, between September and December. While it’s a good idea to review your staffing agency’s employee benefits package during this time each year, it’s particularly important to do so in 2020. This will help ensure your benefits remain relevant in a COVID-19 world.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, you’ve likely noticed more employees questioning their health coverage, paid sick days, work-from-home benefits, financial security, and more. A relevant and valuable employee benefits package can help ease their concerns and make them feel more confident in their future.
Keep the contract workers you employ engaged and happy, so you can ultimately ensure client satisfaction with your placements.
More employees are working from home than ever before, whether temporarily or permanently. While many employees enjoy working from home and wish to continue long term, the move to a home office does come with workplace considerations.
Ideally, you want to make sure your employees can work from home effectively and comfortably. This may mean you should add a stipend for WFH benefits this year, including:
- Ergonomic chairs
- Printers, scanners, and company accessories
- Headphones to tune out distractions
- Webcams for remote meetings, conference calls, and collaboration
- Internet connection
- Cell phones
Studies show employees are just as or even more productive when working from home, but you still want to ensure you’re setting them up for maximum productivity and success. You’ll get the most out of your WFH employees this way.
What Benefits Will Become More Important in 2021?
Now and well into 2021, you’ll likely see a shift in the types of benefits employees value due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. A great benefits package is flexible and relevant to today’s health and financial challenges caused by the pandemic.
What benefits are important right now?
Paid sick leave: Many employees not only fear the negative health effects of COVID-19 but also the financial consequences that come with being sick and having to quarantine. Not being able to go to work for 14 days or more can quickly become financially devastating. That’s why paid sick days are invaluable right now. Ensure your sick leave policy is flexible and consistent with current public health guidance. Paid sick days can offer peace of mind at a difficult time.
Medical coverage: It’s also a good time to consider enhancing your company’s medical coverage. Comprehensive medical and disability coverage is vital when employees risk being hospitalized. A lengthy hospital stay can lead to debt and even bankruptcy for employees without adequate employer-sponsored medical coverage. Consider offering continued health coverage for temporarily furloughed employees as well. This will keep furloughed employees engaged and eager to return to work.
Mental health program: The isolation, stress, and fear associated with COVID-19 may also lead to short- and long-term mental health issues for employees. An employer-provided mental health program can give employees a place to turn to when they’re struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health and wellness challenges. Such a program can give them someone to talk to and provide much-needed coping strategies that can not only promote mental wellness but productivity as well.
Telemedicine: If you don’t offer it yet, consider adding telemedicine coverage to ensure employees can get the medical care they need without the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Bonuses: Many companies are offering employees (especially essential workers) bonuses to show their appreciation and help employees get through tough financial times.
Auxiliary Benefits to Consider
Ditch the free lunch and yoga classes at the office, and swap out the free gym memberships for auxiliary benefits employees can really use right now.
Remote work benefits: Of course, remote work benefits are the most encouraged benefit during this difficult time. Allowing or even obligating employees to work from home when possible is the right thing to do for your employees and the health of Americans.
Professional training opportunities: No one is going to expos and conferences right now, but you can encourage employees to take online training courses or attend online conferences or webinars.
At-home exercise stipend: Because most employees aren’t going to gyms due to the high risk involved in this setting, a stipend for health & wellness or exercise equipment at home might be a better option. You can encourage employees to stay mentally and physically healthy by offering a budget for running shoes and yoga mats or virtual exercise classes.
Child-care assistance: With the school year uncertain and many children opting for virtual learning, employees with children are having a difficult time juggling work and childcare. Consider offering child-care benefits, whether that means subsidizing child-care costs or setting up an on-site daycare.
Financial wellness programs: With so many people furloughed or laid off, and even more having their hours cut or having to stay home to take care of their children, many households are struggling with their finances. Add in hospital bills and the financial challenge can seem insurmountable. Help employees save, budget, and deal with the financial challenges they’re facing as a result of COVID-19 by offering a financial wellness program. These programs can increase financial literacy and reduce financial stress.
Remind Your Employees about the Benefits They Have Access To
Many employees don’t know the breadth of benefits they have access to. Whether or not you’re going to expand or enhance your staffing agency employee benefits, it’s a good idea to remind employees of their benefits and how they can help improve their quality of life, financial situation, and health.
For example, if you offer telehealth benefits or mental health support, remind employees how easy it is to access these types of programs and why they should take advantage of them. To ease stress, you can also let employees know the details of your medical coverage, personal emergency leave policy, and paid sick days in case they get sick from COVID-19. Encourage them to ask questions and get familiar with their benefits.
Now is the ideal time to review your staffing agency’s employee benefits. Due to COVID-19, many employees are struggling with health and financial challenges. A comprehensive benefits package that includes the benefits employees need most right now can improve employee retention, productivity, and job satisfaction. Ultimately, keeping employees happy and healthy will also enable your agency to improve client satisfaction as well.