Employee wellbeing has been front of mind during the last few weeks of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, with finance and health both coming to the fore. There are several things employers can put in place to ensure they are doing enough in these areas to support their teams.
Both businesses’ financial wellbeing and that of their employees is under stress, and could come under further pressure in the coming weeks and months. It remains to be seen how the long-term consequences of Covid-19 will play out, but the crisis could be a turning point in how we view financial wellbeing programmes and their roles in our wider corporate strategies.
For the first few weeks, organisations focused on managing the immediate impact of coronavirus, including the impact on people, operations, working practices and management of furloughing.
But as the weeks unfold and the realities of the pandemic establish themselves in our lives, it’s increasingly important that employers help people adapt, offering practical ways to support people to maintain day-to-day financial wellbeing as best they can. Many households rely on multiple incomes, so employers should be aware that even if their employees are ok, there may be other ways that their household is impacted.
First and foremost, employers need practical interventions that can be implemented quickly to address the pain points people are facing. Whatever is done, it needs to be done quickly.
Anything new that is implemented also has to have an impact in the short term. Economic effects could be with us for two or three years, so anything new you do now should be focussed on the help, services or product solutions that can make the most difference - tomorrow or next week.
Most of all any new measures or support you introduce should be practical and actionable, such as relevant Financial Education support resources or content.
Benefits that the company already offers should be re-promoted, with clear and concise information that people can access easily. Crucially, employers need to encourage people to take action where possible, and not bury their heads in the sand at this difficult time. If ever there was a time to provide wider wellbeing support, this is it.
Health benefits are another area growing in importance in the wake of Covid-19. Insurance companies have traditionally focused on a relatively low percentage of the workforce, with private medical insurance generally focusing on the ill or long term disabled. This misses around 70% of employees in the ‘at risk’ or ‘well’ categories, and insurance firms are shifting towards focusing on this group and embarking on a strategy of maintaining health.
With this new focus, it’s important to make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to from your current provider.
Insurance firms are also evolving from health payers to health partners. We are seeing a rise in additional services that are available, such as an increase in usage of virtual GP services, which allows prompt access to initial treatment and faster access to a GP. It also means less time away from work and allows treatment for regular conditions on a remote basis.
We are also seeing growth in online health risk assessments, greater access to medical information and an increase in mindfulness services. All of these are designed to keep people well, which mitigates and manages health risks, and which may be part of your current benefits package. Look at your benefits package and other services and ask what your business is doing to keep employees fit and healthy. As the situation develops, it will need to be a core part of your health care strategy.
Insurance is not the most agile of industries, but despite this, innovations are coming to the fore as Covid-19 continues to impact the world of work. Mental health awareness has become particularly key, with changes in working practices and increased remote working exacerbating isolation and mental health issues.
Occupational health also needs to be considered – employers still have a duty of care to ensure employees have the right equipment to do their jobs, and to follow the correct processes if they are off or returning to work. Employees need to be able to work safely, even if they are working remotely.
It’s advisable to look at your workforce as a whole and determine the types of risks you may be exposed to, based on the demographic of your workforce.
As the fallout of Covid-19 continues to impact employers, they will need to constantly assess how they are supporting their staff from financial, mental and physical standpoints.
Mercer have produce a suite of free information to support you and your employees through this difficult time. Access the site here.