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The Covid-19 pandemic has added a new layer of difficulty in the workplace and even caused devastation and foreclosure for many. These times have exemplified the importance of employee benefits.
Since the early days of the pandemic, we have been forced to make drastic changes in our communities, workplace, and everyday interactions. The way in which we go about each and every day has been flipped on its head and we have been forced to adapt. Canadian businesses have revoked yearly goals, uprooted daily activities and for many keeping their head above water has become the main goal. New structures have been developed, numbers have been adjusted and it is time to move on to the next stage.
In recent weeks it has become apparent that the way in which we are conducting business is going to last much longer than previously expected. As insurers, we are also adjusting to these changes. We have spent recent weeks introducing new benefit plans and reformatting existing benefits that are already part of programs in order to ensure that all our clients are receiving a package that truly benefits them in these trying times.
Covid has created an opportunity for us to analyze and reflect, both for our businesses and individual self. As we continue to gain experience and understand many things will return to the way they were before the pandemic and many adjustments will remain. One thing stands as certain, the importance of employee benefits. As businesses and the economy continue to reopen, we have picked five changes implemented during the pandemic that we hope stick around:
In the last couple of months, a surge of resources focused on mental health and wellness has become accessible to all. Several places around Canada have developed and now offer residents and employees access to virtual mental-health resources. Resources like online cognitive behavioral therapy and stress management support for anyone who struggles with similar difficulties.
As well, knowledge has increased around the globe about the warning signs of mental health issues, and stigma around the topic has been reduced. People are becoming more adept too watching and listening to people in their lives that are battling these issues. Economic uncertainty is a global problem and the spotlight is on financial wellness. Many insurers have released plans that provide free access to credit counseling for their members. As well, certain employers have given access to financial advisors as part of their benefits programs.
While we all take the time to work through our own situations managing the pandemic. Many people have used this as motivation to lend a helping hand in the community, looking for any way to make a difference. While free access to many of these resources will change post-pandemic, we hope the internal support within communities is around to stay.
With the majority of the health-care systems resources diverted to the detection and treatment of Coronavirus. Adjustments to our in-person local health care clinics and hospitals were forced immediately. Quickly the public health care systems in Canada adapted to provide many with online consultations for prescription and check-up needs.
While this may add some difficulty developing a diagnosis and prognosis for patients. The ability of Canadian health care works to completely reinvent their workplace and provide the citizens of Canada with easily accessible assessments and appointments.
This system has created a rise in the use of telemedicine and health-care management apps. Both of these help shift health care away from the facilities and push focus to client care.
At the beginning of the crisis, complete chaos took over communications in the government, universities, and other businesses. Questions like “what is happening?’, “how long will this last?” and “what businesses will be affected?” created a constant struggle for these establishments to come with concrete answers. Insurers moved quickly to translate the effect of an evolving situation onto benefits and claims adjudication, pushing out information quickly to both plan sponsors and members.
As problems were resolved and plans were developed, a rhythm of regular communications between employees and executives became a necessity. One of the main results of this problem is workplace transparency. This helps create a trust and bond with fellow colleagues and leaders in which we hope to see stick around.
Current workplace programs such as short- and long-term disability, sick leave, and salary continuance plans have always been an important consideration in benefit plan designs. In recent months, these programs have helped workplaces around Canada decrease the spread of Covid.
Absence programs with wage replacement have been comprehensively reviewed. When someone feels ill this allows the person to stay home without financial repercussions. This has been a common practice for a long time. The importance of employee benefits during the pandemic has created better support for an organization’s overall disease prevention strategy in order to stop the spread of infection among their workforce resulting in a safer work environment.
This not only helps prevent the spread of viral infections and diseases but the day-to-day health of each individual is highly monitored. This allows workplaces to ensure their employees have adequate health care.
For those who were depended on, to continue their work throughout the pandemic or for those who have started the return to their workspace. Modifications have been developed and analyzed to best suit individuals.
Maybe your firm decided to stagger shifts or alter the workspace to help reduce the number of face to face interactions on the floor and emphasize the importance of social distancing. Maybe your home has become your workplace.
The force to adapt to drastic changes has created an opportunity for organizations to review their current work strategy and reconsider where and how work is completed. When things return to what we used to consider normal, many companies plan to keep these strategies for employees that don’t necessarily need to be in the office. We can expect more accommodation options for many employees. This will hopefully as a valuable contribution to the employee experience and contributes to an improved work-life balance.
Many aspects of the pandemic are yet to unfold. However, what we know is that as business owners and employees we can adapt. While it is still in question as to how permanent these changes. Our experiences and reflections will teach us how to interact with one another. The importance of employee benefits is stronger then ever. Take the proper precautions and stay safe out there.