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Life after lockdown What will it look like?

Even as the lockdown restrictions are now being lifted, we know that the world of work and home life will never be the same.

From the first day of the lockdown, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people live and work. Even as the lockdown restrictions are now being lifted, we know that the world of work and home life will never be the same.

In terms of the impact on the delivery of employee benefits the biggest difference between the world before and after the pandemic will be related to the state of the UK and global economy. While the UK and world economy prospered before the epidemic outbreak, we are facing an economic crisis in many UK sectors and the world, as businesses see a downturn in orders and demand with the resultant impact on employment levels. The question that flows as a result of this new economic environment is “Will this change in economic activity lead to a shift in how businesses buy their reward and benefit solutions and will it see a move away from expensive flexible benefit platforms to simpler more cost effective tech solutions?

 

Benefit platforms – what way forward?

Certainly it would be a mistake for employers to think about taking away benefits and moving to a cost-minimisation strategy, with low pay and few benefits, as this strategy simply ends up costing employers more in the medium to long-term, with demotivation, higher staff turnover and absenteeism the result. What employers need to look at is how to they get the best out of their people to ensure that their businesses thrive going forward.

The way round this is to look at the technology costs and see if there are more effective and appropriate technology solutions, than the traditional expensive flex-benefit solutions. The focus for employers should be on how to reduce the costs of delivery, but not the quality or range of benefits being provided. It is essential that any replacement technology solution also offers all the engagement and communication tools that a HR team would expect to have at their disposal. Employers need to make it clear to their employees that they are there to support them and provide a reward and benefits package with compassion. The messaging in support of this to be successful, needs to have great and clear communication.

 

Change is in the air – what should be included?

The crisis caused by the pandemic is changing the approach of people to life, how they work and is putting a greater focus on health security. As the economic situation unfolds over the coming months, many people will realise the importance of having financial reserves and therefore the role financial planning has in any rewards programme.

Everything will depend on development of the economic situation in the world over the next 12 months. As the uncertain economic situation continues, it is likely to result in job losses in many sectors. Insecurity and stress levels will increase, factors that are closely linked to mental health. For this reason, the number of people suffering from mental illnesses will Increase which will have a knock-on effect on business success.

The result of this change will mean that more employees will appreciate the value of having health benefits provided through the workplace. Be they benefits helping to manage stress and anxiety, or mental health services. And as private health facilities re-open people will look to take advantage of any clinical support available through PMI and cash plans so that they can receive outside of the stretched NHS. Employers need to take responsibility to actively support employees means going beyond just providing employee assistance programme (EAP) phone lines. It means auditing then helping employees much more broadly with financial education, be that through online financial tools, debt management support, pensions’ guidance, budgeting support and so on. To show them that you care about their wellbeing and support staff whose family members may be in difficult situations.

 

Social space

Taking time off work during lockdown, particularly in place of a cancelled holiday, did feel for many people feel like adding insult to injury. But having time off work is crucial to maintain good mental and physical wellbeing, and that includes holidays taken during lockdown and over the coming months, when remote working is going to be with us for the long term. The point that needs to be made here is that if you are living and working from home with limited travel options, the temptation to work during holidays can be greater than ever, but it’s vital that employees take a proper break to ensure they receive the recuperative benefits of taking time off work.

Going forward businesses will need to recognise they can’t simply return to pre-pandemic reward assumptions and use the tools that they previously had. The future will be about creating new reward and recognition solutions to make sure that the pay and benefits programme is aligned with the needs of employees and their place in society.

 

Wojciech Dochan

Managing Director, Busy Bees Benefits

Provider of the SmartHive Platform

Smart Hive is an integrated, cost effective employee benefits platform that provides your employees with access to all their health and wellbeing benefits in one place. Talk to a member of our team today or book your very own demonstration.