The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted work as we know it. The extensive stay-at-home rules and travel restrictions implemented across the world led to a steep economic downturn in the country to record low levels. Consequently, business owners turned to adaptive measures, such as downsizing, issuing pay cuts, and furloughing many workers to mitigate the effect of the pandemic-induced economic decline. As countries slowly begin to ease these restrictions and get the economy back on the road to recovery, employees have pondered about how the pandemic will alter their workplace benefits.
Healthcare benefits have been a crucial part of an employee’s compensation plan; however, the pandemic has accentuated its importance. Given the increased health awareness that came with the COVID-19 health crisis, workers now place a premium on health and wellness benefits, with a greater emphasis on packages and programs that focus on preventing and treating chronic disease – a major risk factor for COVID-19 infection and death.
In a recent survey, 86 percent of respondents described employee health benefits as a “must-have,” with critical illness and cancer coverage being top priorities for the respondents. Other surveys also found that employees are asking for COVID-19-specific benefits, including paid sick leave for workers, 24/7 access to healthcare providers, and waivers to coronavirus testing and treatment co-pays.
Employees are also not leaving out workplace mental health benefits. Workers that struggled with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, say access to mental health services in the workplace has become a necessity and a pre-condition for accepting a job offer. Experience of the infection, job loss, and death of loved ones have taken a toll on people’s mental health, triggering a mental health pandemic that has revealed the need for more mental health packages in the workplace.
Also, this growing health-consciousness among workers has increased expectations on healthcare institutions amid the spread of the deadly virus. Many employees now expect a higher benchmark for safety and quality in healthcare delivery as the anxiety of contracting the infection remains palpable. Workers want to see that a healthcare facility implements preventive measures, such as the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals, regular disinfection, and other infection control protocols, to curb the transmission of the virus.
In conclusion, the health crisis has ushered us into a “new normal” for work and healthcare. Employees have now upped the ante for employer-sponsored healthcare benefits, revealing the crucial need for business owners to pay closer attention to employee health and wellness in the post-pandemic era. In a nutshell, people now want the guarantees of safety and trust now more than ever.
Participate in a survey to uncover the current and future State of Employer Healthcare & Benefits from 2020-2021.
The State of Employer Healthcare & Benefits Survey is a collaboration between Global Healthcare Resources, Corporate Health & Wealth Association, and Medical Tourism Association, made possible through the sponsorship of the Korea Tourism Organization.