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March 8, 2021
There was a seismic shift in the normal working day when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
Companies sent employees to work from home for months — and in some cases — through the remainder of the year. Some companies like Salesforce announced a permanent move allowing full-time employees to work remote.
Employees who returned to the workplace also faced changes. New safety protocols like physical distancing, limited capacity in rooms and wearing a mask around the office became commonplace, even in the first quarter of 2021.
This new normal also affected how companies think about their employee benefits programs – or at least it should have.
Telehealth on the rise
The use of telehealth grew in popularity in 2020 during the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, not many people were aware of telehealth as just 46 percent of Indiana employers reported offering the benefit to its employees in Apex’s 2019 Indiana Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report.
Today, nearly everyone is aware of telehealth and it will continue to be popular because of its cost-effective and time-saving means.
The rise of telehealth usage should mean more access to the benefit on employee benefit programs as soon as this year. of employers surveyed were considering expanding telehealth programs.
Mental health awareness
The stress employees faced throughout the pandemic made the spotlight on practicing good mental health brighter than ever.
That also meant employers needed to make sure they were providing programs to help employees. After all, an employee facing overwhelming stress isn’t going to be a productive one.
EAPs and other similar programs were highly utilized in 2020. Our 2019 Benchmarking report found that 62 percent of Indiana employers offered an employee assistance program, and 35.5% were focused on enhancing those benefits for employees.
That data was recorded way before COVID-19 was even a thing, which means the numbers have a chance to be higher for our 2021 Benchmarking report.
While not technically part of the benefits program, employers still needed to adjust their strategies to recruiting, hiring and onboarding employees.
A SHRM article said organizations across the board moved their recruiting and hiring processes completely virtual. In some instances, the hiring process for a single employee — interviews, onboarding, etc. — was completely virtual.
But just hiring new employees virtually wasn’t enough. Employers needed to find ways to keep their employees engaged, motivated and happy —to help with retention.
Companies used a variety of methods such as weekly newsletters and meetings over a digital platform such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. For after hours, some employers even set a lighter tone with a ‘Happy Hour’ so employees could catch up with co-workers on a personal level.
See how you stack up
Interested in seeing how your company’s benefits program fared during the pandemic and compare it to other Indiana employers?
Take our 2021 Indiana Employee Benefits Benchmarking Survey by visiting benchmarking.apexbg.com.
By taking the survey, you’ll have access to a wide variety of data related to employee benefits and packages. You’ll even have the option to have a custom report tailored to compare your business directly to your competition.