Almost everything in the workplace has altered in the first year of the epidemic, from when and where we work to how workers engage with each other and clients. Employers’ benefit designs, as well as employee well-being and support methods, have all been influenced. This crisis has hastened important transformations in many aspects, as has become more evident.

The epidemic has also highlighted the numerous challenges of obtaining and getting excellent healthcare, as well as how an employee’s whole well-being, not just physical health, affects their job performance. As a result, many businesses are prioritizing health benefits in their entire personnel strategy.

This attitude shift has resulted in a transformation in the responsibilities of HR and benefits executives, as I’ve experienced firsthand in my job as Chief People Officer at Castlight. C-suite executives, in particular, have grown increasingly interested in their workers’ benefits experiences.

This shift is critical for the workplace of the future and for today’s employees. Nearly half of all Americans have health insurance provided by their employer. In addition, according to a recent trust poll, most Americans trust corporate leadership more than government media. As a result, businesses are in a unique position to positively influence their workers’ health journeys.

Employers’ Top Priorities in 2021

Employers have gained access to workers’ everyday life as a result of the epidemic. Many businesses now have the chance to change the way they support their employees. Employers must pay attention to what workers consider their top objectives in 2021 (and beyond) when it comes to promoting employee health.

Navigating the COVID-19 immunization procedure and including employees in a whole-person approach to their health are two examples.

Supporting Employee Well-Being During and After the Pandemic

Employers may use their position as a trusted resource to increase vaccination knowledge as more people become eligible for vaccines. They can also assist in facilitating a more even distribution of their employees.

Employees have a lot of questions regarding the vaccination, and there is a lot of misinformation floating about. Almost a third of the population is still wary of taking the COVID-19 vaccination, with many fearing negative side effects. Others worry that the vaccination is too new or that it may infect them. Employers must take the lead and offer their employees with comprehensive vaccination education materials that are both scientifically sound and easy to handle.

HR executives may also guarantee that all workers receive the exact attention and knowledge they require by delivering continual focused communications. Essential personnel, for example, should be aware of on-the-job safety standards and whether or not they are qualified for a vaccination in their state.

Non-essential personnel, on the other hand, may want to know when they’ll be eligible, where they can be vaccinated, and how to schedule an appointment.

A Whole-Person Approach to LONG-TERM Employee Happiness

The importance of an employee’s health and long-term well-being to their enjoyment, engagement, productivity, and success has been highlighted by COVID-19. Employers must consider how to keep their workers interested in their healthcare long after the epidemic has ended, in addition to vaccination delivery. Many executive teams have begun to rethink how companies think about perks in general.

After all, remote work has given them a look into what their employees are up to on a daily basis. It is now obvious that employees deal with difficulties on top of a full-time job on a regular basis. Childcare and homeschooling, as well as caring for a loved one, are examples of real-world responsibilities. Employers have gained a better understanding of what their teams face outside of the workplace as a result of this perspective. And they’re now seeing the importance of adaptation.

COVID-19 also emphasised other areas of well-being, such as mental health. For example, anxiety and sadness symptoms among U.S. adults increased from 11% to 41% from before the epidemic to January 2021. Employers must now take a comprehensive approach to their workforces.

They must take into account all aspects of health, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and economical factors. Then they must create a tailored, fair benefits plan that suits each employee’s health objectives and requirements.

The Role of the C-suite: Leading in tough times

Critical benefits conversations are no longer only the responsibility of the benefits manager. Members of the C-suite must also become personally invested in the well-being of their employees. CHROs, in particular, must have a better understanding of their workforce segments. Understanding who you have is the first step in ensuring a healthier, more productive staff.

Then, by delivering advantages in a tailored manner, you may respond to their unique demands.

In 2021 and beyond, employers may (and should) play a critical role in employee well-being

Mid-size and big businesses, in particular, may be key leaders in health advocacy due to their unique and considerable reach into the workforce. Throughout these trying times, compassion, communication, bravery, and a strong community focus will be critical leadership characteristics.

For years to come, how businesses treat their employees — and their families health and overall well-being — will decide their employer brand.