How the COVID-19 Pandemic Could Change Employee Benefits

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There is little arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed nearly every aspect of life. Everything from how kids do their schoolwork to where their parents work is different. And in terms of parents and work, the pandemic could very easily change employee benefits packages.

Employee benefits have been part of the employer-employee relationship for decades, explains Dallas-based BenefitMall. They say that every year, HR departments go through the exercise of determining which employee benefits will attract the best and brightest talent in the year to come.

Things like student loan repayment and new parent benefits were among those being discussed at the start of the year. But nearly halfway through 2020, discussions are starting to change. The long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic look like they will have a long-term impact on employee benefits.

New Child Care Benefits

One of the more visible long-term impacts of the pandemic is a new emphasis on working remotely. We already know of at least a few companies planning to not bring some of their remotely working employees back to the office. The experts are already saying that working from home could become the new normal for millions.

Some permanent remote workers will undoubtedly find their new situations untenable while the kids are home from school during the summer months. Those few hours after school – when classes are in session – could also be problematic. Employers hoping to make remote work permanent may have to step up with new childcare benefits that enable parents to have their children cared for elsewhere during working hours.

Remote Technology Benefits

As long as we are talking about permanent remote work, we should entertain the possibility that remote technology benefits may become necessary. Companies expecting employees to permanently work from home might start offering financial compensation to pay for things like high-speed internet, new computers and mobile devices, etc. Security software and firewall protection are not out of the question either.

Increased Mental Health Benefits

There is some evidence suggesting that long-term shutdowns and social distancing policies could have a long-term impact on mental health. Experts are already talking about the mental health system being overwhelmed in the coming months. But what about next year, and the year after?

Mental health benefits are already on the radar for many companies. Those not considering such benefits may be forced to reconsider if it is determined that the mental health of their employees has been harmed as a result of the pandemic.

Redesigned Paid Time Off Policies

Finally, we know that several pieces of legislation passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic require employers to give workers time off to deal with coronavirus issues. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that companies will redesign their paid time off (PTO) policies to more accurately reflect the realities of a post-pandemic world.

Perhaps the standard two-week vacation and five sick days will give way to unlimited PTO. Maybe companies will consider creating their own paid family leave programs in states where such leave is not mandated. And of course, there is always the possibility that state governments will mandate new PTO policies across the board.

Employee benefits have traditionally filled the gap between salary and what employees pay out-of-pocket for their most basic needs. Those needs are changing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we should expect to see employee benefits packages being modified accordingly. Companies looking to attract and retain top talent are going to have to adjust their benefits to meet the needs of a post-pandemic workforce.

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