The global pandemic has forced companies across America to reckon with tradition. Although the conventional 9-to-5 set-up, with employees sitting in cubicles, has been mostly replaced with open office formats and more flexibility — remote work was still a rarer perk before the coronavirus happened. Now that work-from-home has become the standard for many businesses, HR directors and CEOs might be considering an overhaul of their benefits packages. After all, catered lunches in the office won’t be happening for the foreseeable future — so, what kinds of benefits make sense in the age of COVID?
Below, we’ll dive into some of the perks you may want to consider offering to your employees while they’re working from home permanently or at least, semi-permanently.
Benefit Possibility #1: Childcare Stipends and Family-First Policies
One of the biggest issues that working parents have to contend with is childcare. Schools all over the country have moved to virtual learning, which means parents are tasked with ensuring their kids are focusing on their lessons, writing essays, and getting homework done. For younger children who aren’t yet in school, parents must figure out how to supervise them while working.
To mitigate these issues, companies may want to consider offering certain childcare benefits to help parents adapt and overcome. For example, you can give parents a child care stipend they can use to pay for daycare. Or, you can offer paid leave options to give caregivers the time they need to take care of a child or family member.
Benefit Possibility #2: Flexible Work Schedule
Remote work already gives workers more flexibility than they otherwise would have worked a traditional 9-to-5 in the actual office. After all, it’s unlikely that many employees would show up to the office wearing pajamas and their house slippers! However, companies can offer even more to employees in the form of flexible work schedules.
You can simply offer employees the chance to work earlier or later based on their preferences. In turn, your night owls and early risers can both work when they feel most productive and alert. Or, you can also allow for schedules like a 4-10 schedule, which means employees work four, ten-hour days.
Benefit Possibility #3: Digital Wellness
Workers all across the country are under enormous stress thanks to a pandemic upending the world as we know it. To support your workforce’s mental and emotional well-being, consider giving them digital wellness benefits. You can support their emotional health by giving them a stipend for online counseling services, for example.
You may also want to consider giving your employees an additional stipend to put toward exercise. Your employees can use that stipend for a gym membership or for a digital workout subscription. Or, consider giving out activity trackers so employees remember to take breaks to exercise during the day.
Active, healthy employees are less likely to get sick or leave your company. It’s both in the company and employee’s best interest to provide benefits that support physical, mental, and emotional wellness.
Benefit Possibility #4: Enhanced Communication Channels
When your team is scattered geographically — and perhaps across different time zones, as well — it can be difficult to communicate effectively. With that said, you can take steps to bridge the physical gap with digital communication channels.
Email communications can be a bit formal and not as efficient for all types of messages. Consider using an internal, instant messaging system for more casual conversations and company-wide announcements that don’t need the formality of an email message.
Most importantly, make sure that your employees know they’re not forgotten — even if they’re not in the office anymore. It’s important to give your workers a voice so they can provide feedback or share a concern.
Benefit Possibility #5: Virtual Team Bonding Events
When your company culture relies on in-person attendance, it’s important to continue to nurture work relationships when your employees are remote. Your workers might have an easier time with collaboration if they feel like they know each other and have established communication.
Team bonding events also help fight isolation and loneliness, which is a common issue when your employees are working from home. As a result of the growing feelings of isolation, your workers might become disengaged from work and feel less motivated.
To avoid the issues associated with remote work, it’s a good idea to implement regular virtual team bonding events. We’ve assembled some ideas below to get the ball rolling on your virtual event schedule:
- Schedule team coffee breaks: Find one day a week where work is lower volume to schedule a 15-minute coffee break within your department. You can use this time to talk about your day with others and catch up with co-workers.
- Weekly movie viewing: Use software like Netflix Party to watch a movie together as a company or department. You can even host a movie discussion event after.
- Myers-Briggs assessment: Figure out your personality and learn others’ personality tendencies so you can figure out how best to work with one another.
Benefit Possibility #6: Offer More PTO
Retaining your best employees is important for your company to run efficiently. One way to ensure loyalty among your employees is by giving them adequate breaks. Consider bumping up the amount of PTO you offer to help your workers avoid burnout. Breaks are a great way to help your employees recover from busy work weeks and return to their regular work schedule with fresh eyes and an optimistic perspective.
Changing Benefits for a Changing World
Your employees are your most valuable asset. If you want to ensure your team’s happiness and success in the face of a serious health crisis, consider adjusting your perks and benefits package to support them. Focus on giving your employees channels to communicate so they feel heard and engaged. Implement virtual team bonding events to facilitate deeper work relationships that make collaboration more seamless. And finally, consider giving your employees stipends to put toward childcare, gym memberships, and other wellness needs so they’ll stay happier and healthier.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.