As the coronavirus erupted across the country, it caused major disruptions to businesses and employee work routines. It caused a major shift in priorities among employees as they began working from home and taking other measures to insure their health and safety.
This shift was mirrored in the changes companies have been making in their benefits packages. Moreover, companies are responding much more quickly than they customarily do.
New Benefits Spurred by the Pandemic
More than half of the companies responding to recent surveys report beefing up their healthcare benefits and wellness programs. One-third report making changes to paid time off and vacation day guidelines. One-quarter are giving their workers more flexibility with their schedules. Other firms have established online fitness, meditation, and nutrition support programs.
The virus has accelerated a trend already in place before the pandemic, pushing health and wellness to the top of the priority list for companies and employees. Company officials say this trend is likely to continue for at least the next several years.
Other changes prompted by the virus include more childcare support for employees, telehealth programs, and mental health support. Some companies are even offering bonuses to employees to help them through this tough time.
However, in order to offer these enhanced packages, companies are making cuts to other areas, such as 401K retirement programs.
How Long Will They Last?
One big question remains, however, and that is the permanence of these new programs. After the pandemic subsides, many companies may decide that offering them across the board is simply not worth the cost. Some business experts speculate that eventually, what may happen is that companies will offer a more diverse menu of options, adaptable to the needs of individual employees. This way, workers can choose among a range of benefits that best suit their needs.
But one thing is certain, business officials say — the pandemic has put a renewed emphasis on benefits, and that won’t be going away any time soon. They have become much more important to employees, and businesses will have to respond if they want to remain competitive in attracting new people.
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