The coronavirus pandemic has caused us all to adopt new ways of working. Many of us who have not been furloughed have been working from home for several weeks. Processes and technology which at first seemed alien have now become commonplace. As the lockdown eases, some of these practices may well be incorporated into our business as the ‘new norm’.
Successful remote working is underpinned by technology. Indeed, one significant bonus from the lockdown can be seen to be how businesses have swiftly developed and adopted solutions which they’d previously insisted were impossible.
From the employee benefits point of view, the value of digital support services, particularly in relation to Employee Assistance Programmes, became apparent early on in the pandemic. Digital solutions were already gaining in popularity. The crisis has caused this appreciation to accelerate.
For example, one Employee Assistance Programme provider recently advised us that in comparison with March 2019, calls to their helpline in March 2020 had increased by over 50%. Telephone counselling sessions with the same provider reached their highest ever uptake in March 2020, increasing by over 130% in comparison with the same month in the previous year (which was itself a record month).
Digital solutions have enabled home-working and furloughed employees to quickly and efficiently access confidential telephone or video advice on a range of issues that could be affecting their mental and physical wellbeing. They provide a touchpoint between businesses and their employees, helping to alleviate feelings of isolation and disconnection. This is of obvious benefit not only to the employee but to their employer too.
As we begin to return to more normal ways of operating, businesses will recognise that paper-based or offline systems are out of synch with the modern world. They will see that they are inefficient, particularly when staff are not all based in one location or are working non-traditional hours. Employees will increasingly expect and demand online systems that they can access instantaneously when and where they want. As most other aspects of their life are available at a click of a mouse, they will want their employee benefits to be too.
It is too early to wave goodbye to Coronavirus. Many experts are talking about the possibility of a second peak in the autumn, with a potential reinstatement of lockdown. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
To make sure you’re prepared for all scenarios, please do contact us for a review of your employee benefits offer with one of our Consultants.