At this point, working from home is the new normal. Companies around the globe have adapted to working from home instead of coming into the office every day.
Even before the pandemic began, working from home brought flexibility and work-life balance for employees. But now it’s entered the mainstream and businesses are adapting to life outside of an office park.
As work has shifted, so too have employees’ benefits needs. As an employer, here are some things you should consider about employee benefits and how they fit into our new working styles.
Health insurance and retirement plans are common and aren’t going anywhere. But before COVID-19, employers were finding a hiring edge in the marketplace by offering more than that.
This included things like gym memberships, wellness days, and offering working from home as a luxury. Now, some of those benefits no longer make sense. Gym memberships or wellness stipends lose their power because of lockdowns around the country.
And working from home is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Instead of offering healthy snacks in the break room or catered lunches, you need to rethink your benefits budget. The first benefits to consider are those that increase the comfortability of working for your employees.
Standing desks, laptop stands, better monitors, and wireless headphones may all help make your employees’ work days easier. If you’re not paying for gym memberships or catered lunches in the office, this wellness budget can go to benefit your employees at home.
Some technology-focused companies also offer technology stipends. These can be used to purchase new laptops or desktop computers every few years. Employees can decide when their current machine is no longer cutting it and cash in the benefit to enhance their workflow.
Don’t be afraid to invest in tools that make working from home more comfortable. If this is the new normal, these investments will go a long way. That’s still true even if employees start to come back to the office.
Mental Health Benefits
Working from home during a pandemic comes with its own set of challenges. For many, anxiety and mental anguish are on the rise. Your employees may be able to put on a good face for your weekly Zoom calls. But during their off hours, they may be struggling with mental health issues.
Mental health benefits are rarely included in traditional health plans. Partnering with a mental wellness company or talking to your health insurance provider can bring enormous value. Showing your employees you care about their mental health as well as their physical health is huge.
Mental health benefits are rarely offered. But if you’re saving on office space or in other ways, your budget may let you refocus on mental health benefits.
Video Call Fatigue
We’ve all been there. Too many Zoom or Google Meet calls in a row and you start to feel burned out. Being in meetings all day is hard enough. But doing it digitally can be even harder.
An easy change you can roll out is limiting video call length. Or change the days that you’re having meetings entirely. By rethinking how video meetings are structured, you can reduce fatigue. Try only having check-in meetings in the morning and leaving the afternoon for employees to get their work done.
Virtual Happy Hour
One of the biggest downsides of not being in-office anymore is that water cooler moments don’t happen. Hanging out and catching up with colleagues is a big part of building long-term work relationships. But without a physical office space to congregate in, employees may struggle to build friendships with their peers.
An alternative to try could be virtual happy hours. Sponsor employees to order lunch or their favorite after-work beverage and get together for an hour. Talk about things unrelated to work. Give employees time to hang out with each other and build personal relationships the same way they might if offices were still open.
It’s no substitute for in-person contact, but it’s the next best thing while businesses are still closed.
Rethinking Your Current Benefits
One thing working from home has shown is that employers need to rethink their benefits strategy.
Traditional benefits like health care and retirement are still necessities. But thinking about employees’ needs now that they’re at home full-time requires you to be creative.
Employees face new challenges working in virtual meetings and delivering work via Slack and Google Drive. Ask employees what tools would make their lives easier, both during and outside of work.
Some changes may be easy to implement like offering better technology tools. While rethinking mental wellness benefits may take some time. Start small and repurpose your old benefits budgets in new and creative ways to help you and your employees succeed in this new work climate.