Human resources and benefits managers have perhaps never been more put to the test than during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic forced employers to quickly learn how to manage a remote workforce while trying to fill immediate needs for short-term benefits, such as emergency savings and child and elderly care support. At the same time, economic instability and the racial justice crisis added to employees’ concerns and stresses.
Now, you may still be in the sorting-out stage, trying to figure out how best to take what you learned in the crisis and apply it to long-term policies and tactics that will continue to support employees moving forward.
Here’s a look at three key strategies HR pros may want to consider, as workers continue to face uncertainties in the economy and the world, and in the event of any future crises.
1. Make Sure Communications Are Honest and Accurate — and That They Reach Everyone
You’ve likely hit some obstacles as you tried to communicate Covid-oriented policies and protocols among your far-flung workers. In the process, you may have found strategies that work for you and others that don’t. Add to those lessons the following tips to help you move forward.
Research shows employees engage more if they think company communications are honest. That means it’s OK to tell employees management is still looking into a change or isn’t sure exactly when a new policy will be implemented. In uncertain times, it’s better to keep in touch. Employees are looking to you for leadership, but they also want to be in on the process when changes are taking place. What’s more, giving employees honest updates can avoid the need for damage control later.
Be the Voice of Reason and Compassion
Your employees are likely overloaded with news and information, some of which may be contradictory and confusing. It’s important that your communications stay on top of breaking news and add a clear, helpful, and understanding voice to the discussion when events impact the company, the employees, and benefits.
Take a Multi-Channel Approach
While email is generally still the most common way to communicate with employees, you also want to use mobile and social media to help ensure that all employees see vital communications no matter where they are or what their work situation may be. This will be, literally, reaching out to your employees where they are.
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2. Review Your Voluntary Benefits
In times of uncertainty, employees may look to their employer for a shoulder to lean on. Many HR professionals have recognized this through the Covid-19 crisis by offering a variety of flexible benefits that can help employees solve their short-term financial challenges today and assist them in building a stronger future.
Research shows that more employers are offering voluntary benefits across a wide spectrum of needs. According to a 2022 survey by the professional services firm Aon, the number of employers offering new or additional voluntary benefits increased 41% from 2021 through 2022.
The fastest-growing benefits employees are offering include supplemental health insurance policies (e.g., critical illness, accident, and hospital indemnity), life insurance, student loan assistance programs, identity theft protection, legal benefits, pet care, and auto/home protections.
Whatever combination of flexible or voluntary benefits you may be considering, you’ll want to be sure it fits your workers’ demographics and pressing needs. A variety of well-chosen benefits can help your employees face their specific challenges while also reducing stress and calming nerves during any period of uncertainty.
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3. Help Employees Balance Short-Term and Long-Term Financial Well-Being
In uncertain times a flexible financial well-being approach that includes the short-term benefits employees need to make it through is more important than ever. That’s why so many employers have introduced the types of benefits that employees feel are most relevant to their current financial concerns. Those may include emergency savings programs, homeownership benefits, and student loan repayment programs, to name just a few.
But this doesn’t mean that the importance of retirement savings and other long-term benefits should be diminished. Far from it. The security of knowing long-term retirement savings is in place can help add to employees’ overall financial well-being, especially during tumultuous times. Through effective communication and education programs, HR professionals can help employees balance short-term and long-term financial needs and goals.
It’s essential in times like these to try to help employees feel — and be — secure. These strategies may help you and your company continue to improve financial well-being during both calm and more tumultuous times.
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