As COVID-19 stubbornly persists, businesses, and the employees who keep them thriving, continue to pivot and grow in the face of continued uncertainty. As workers deal with anxiety related to childcare, eldercare, and the health issues of themselves along with their loved ones, they’re looking to their employers for relief.

Smart companies, despite facing their own financial challenges, are supporting their employees through benefits such as virtual wellness, health savings accounts, supplemental insurance, and the aid of a benefits advisor. And by providing for their employees in these ways, they are preserving their own priceless human capital.

Virtual Wellness

When emotional and physical problems in an employee’s life begin to build, anxiety can understandably affect their workday. Caring for a child or elderly parent, coping with financial stress, or dealing with relationship issues can disrupt a worker’s focus, and the presence of COVID-19 has only made these scenarios more common. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Corporate Wellness Initiatives, and Telemedicine go hand in hand in offering relief. And according to the Aflac 2020-2021 Workplace Benefits Executive Summary, employers are reporting an unprecedented rise in virtual options when it comes to these offerings.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): With COVID-19 causing or exacerbating substance abuse, stress, and grief among workers, voluntary Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can offer free, accessible counseling services from trained professionals. Traditionally delivered face-to-face, these services are now being offered safely to employees through phone, video, email, or online chats. In many cases, help is also available to the employee’s immediate family members.

Corporate Wellness Initiatives: Using a preventive rather than reactive perspective, corporate wellness initiatives motivate employees to live healthier lives. In the process, they promote a stronger team environment. Corporate wellness programs guide employees in building healthy habits such as nutritious eating, regular exercise such as walking or yoga, improved and increased sleep, and smoking cessation. The programs create a positive dialogue within a workplace’s culture surrounding healthy living, and can be easily offered online.

Telemedicine: According to Aflac’s Executive Summary, telemedicine is on the rise among companies as part of their benefits offerings. With telemedicine, in-person medical visits can be replaced with remote consultations through secure video or audio channels. Eliminating the drain of lost time sitting in a waiting room, the employee simply clicks on a link sent via text or email to participate in an efficient, one-on-one virtual appointment with their physician. For a good percentage of patient needs such as medication management, follow-up care, minor urgent care, chronic condition management, and more, telemedicine gives employees a safe, convenient, time-saving option to receive the help they need.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) allow employees and/or companies to set aside money for future health expenses. These savings accounts can be set up by an individual through a bank or other financial institution, or by an employer if the company has a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). An HSA enables money to be saved on a pre-tax basis to use for qualified medical, dental, and vision expenses, and may earn non-taxable interest.

In 2022, employees can contribute up to $3,650 into an HSA for themselves, and up to $7,300 for their families. The beginning of the new year is a smart time for an employee to fund their HSA, and it’s not a “use it or lose it” scenario: HSA funds roll over year to year if they are not spent.

Supplemental Insurance 

Supplemental insurance offers a variety of options that can be tailored toward an employee’s needs or interests. Aflac’s 2020-2021 Workplace Benefits Trends Executive Summary reported that 50% of organizations offering supplemental insurance stated that it helped with employee recruitment, and 60% reported that it improved employee retention. These types of insurance include:

  • Accident Insurance
  • Cancer or other specified disease insurance
  • Critical Illness Insurance (heart attack, stroke, organ transplant, coma, etc.)
  • Supplemental Dental Insurance
  • Intensive Care Insurance
  • Supplemental Life Insurance
  • Medical Expense Insurance (hospitalization, medical testing, emergency room visits, doctor visits, etc)
  • Long-term Disability Insurance
  • Short-term Disability Insurance
  • Supplemental Vision Insurance
  • Supplemental Hospital insurance
  • COVID-19 or other Pandemic Insurance

Service and Support

Aflac’s Executive Summary highlighted the increased value of using a benefits consultant or broker when determining benefits options, with 59% of companies reporting that they use a broker. Benefits advisors possess extensive knowledge of best practices, serving as liaisons between companies and insurance providers. An average of 66% of companies report that they get more for their money through better and less expensive benefits packages due to working with a benefits consultant.

When working with a broker, the company gains a partner in business. The broker can get to know an organization and its employees intimately, offering customer service and support with a personal touch. They are able to keep up with changes and regulation compliance along with managing benefits administration, and can communicate with employees and company leadership alike to answer questions, provide recommendations, enroll participants, and facilitate education and trainings. And, should an employer’s goals shift, the broker is available to recommend the best corresponding benefit plan adjustments.

Employers find value in using a broker or benefits consultant to determine their options*:

  • 76% say they get more for their money by working with a broker
  • 70% say their broker helps their company offer a better benefits package
  • 53% say hiring a broker made their benefits package less expensive

*Source: Aflac 2020-2021 Workplace Benefits Trends Executive Summary

A Wake-Up Call

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to employees when it comes to time spent researching and understanding their benefits. With financial security a major concern, the safety net of benefits can offer relief to workers who are already stressed from the unexpected circumstances that a Pandemic presents. Stress causes illness, and illness causes stress. Both can be eased through virtual wellness, health savings accounts, supplemental insurance, and the aid of a benefits advisor.

At 3to99, we believe people matter. Because finding quality employees in today’s work climate can feel like an impossible feat, keeping your experienced workforce happy and retained is crucial. We offer online and in-person support for you and your team members, providing solid guidance and partnership in your growth and success. Contact us today for a free review and consultation.