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Chapter 5

How to Support Employees through Wellbeing & Benefits in a Post-COVID-19 Era

HR leaders can support their people, mentally, physically and even financially, during especially challenging times.

how will employee wellbeing change after the pandemic

When lockdown measures forced employees to work remotely, and employees that were unable to work from home were on the front lines of a pandemic crisis, employee wellbeing (rightfully) came into focus. How could HR leaders support their people, mentally, physically and even financially to try to help their people get through especially challenging times? 

This focus has only grown stronger as post-COVID-19 employee wellness is paramount to an organisation’s overall Employee Value Proposition.

A recent report from Mercer says that while 48% of executives rank employees’ wellbeing as a top workforce concern, only 29% of HR leaders actually have  a health and wellbeing strategy.

To help boost the employer brand and support employees, HR leaders need to find ways to innovate their wellbeing initiatives amidst tightening budgets and uncertainty. 

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Budget-friendly employee wellbeing initiatives

Luckily, there are several ideas employers can look at to put in place budget-friendly post-COVID-19 employee wellbeing initiatives. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Offer access to on-demand videos and articles to support all pillars of employee wellbeing, from financial to mental and physical. Employees can pick and choose what to engage with, and can access helpful wellbeing support at any time. 
  • Introduce new ways for employees to save on their own bottom line through employee discounts programs to help them save on popular retailers. 
  • Provide a free Employee Assistance Program (EAP) so your people have a safe space to go to when they’re in need of extra support during challenging times.
  • Add a wellbeing allowance benefit to give a little extra money towards wellbeing initiatives of your employees’ choosing. 

how will employee wellbeing change after the pandemic

Put a focus on financial employee wellbeing

No matter what the make up of your employee demographic, families across the country are feeling the pinch of a struggling economy, especially when it comes to everyday costs like groceries and other household items.

Employment stress levels among Australian families have more than doubled amid the global coronavirus outbreak, with new data revealing about 1.4 million Australian schoolchildren are in households where one or both carers are suffering financial strain.

Unsure of where to start or whether your efforts will make an impact?

Ask your employees what they need and you may be surprised at what they’ll tell you and what problems you’ll be able to solve with even a limited budget. 

Now is the time to remind employees about anything already available to them to support their wellbeing. This might include:

Access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Some employees only consider accessing an EAP if they are dealing with grief or mental health challenges, and may need reminding that they may be able to access financial education or advice through your provider.
Making the most of a discounts program: With schools and gyms closed, more families are purchasing technology, fitness equipment and even gardening gear as they spend time at home. Saving money on any of these purchases, in addition to everyday groceries, can make a huge difference to families on reduced income.
Providing a salary advance or small loan: Many employees may be reworking their household budgets, particularly if the earning capacity for those living under the same roof has taken a hit. Paying employees a salary advance or offering small loans on request can help alleviate the pressure of staying on top of rent, mortgage repayments or ongoing bills.

Wellbeing should always be on your employee engagement agenda – the right wellbeing programs can reduce absenteeism and decrease your overall business costs, help you build a healthier and more engaged workforce, improve your overall EVP and enhance your employer brand.

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