The COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate. Our priority at this time is of course the welfare of our people, and we continue to monitor guidance and introduce any measures necessary to keep them safe.

We know that your people are your top priority too and this is made all the harder when dealing with so many unknowns. To help you navigate this new world we are living in, we want to share our latest thinking as well as insights from our parent company, Mercer, who have an incredible wealth of resources to support employers with managing the impact of the coronavirus.

Like all businesses, your requirements are likely to shift over the coming months and we’re already working with several clients to expand or flex their benefits offering to meet any new technical or administrative requirements brought about by new ways of working. Below we have outlined just a few of the ways we are supporting clients at this time.

Supporting mind and body

Healthcare benefits are naturally a top priority for organisations across the board. As many schemes have a selection window, we are working with clients to either bring this forward or adjust the benefits available to allow their employees to complete or change their selections. Several employers are also looking to revitalise their health hubs to either add or elevate wellbeing benefits. Others are looking to augment their scheme with mindfulness apps, such as Headspace and Unmind, or demonstrate how existing policies can support issues, such as stress and back pain, that are likely to become more prevalent. This report from Mercer provides further advice on how employers can support their employees at this challenging time.

Putting finances front and centre

Many employees are concerned about their personal finances and we’re working with several clients to offer additional support and transparency in this area. For example, enabling people to reduce their pension and childcare voucher contributions and improve cash flow or reconfiguring flexible benefits to place their financial wellbeing benefits front and centre, enabling employees to quickly check on an area of prime concern. 

Supporting time off

With school closures placing additional pressure on parents, many organisations are finding that their people need additional time off. Conversely, others are seeing a raft of annual leave cancelations as employees’ holiday plans are put on ice. If you’re struggling with either of these issues, you can amend holiday buy and sell schemes so that employees can spread the cost of purchasing additional holiday or sell rollover holiday. Some organisations are also giving their people the option to donate funds generated via holiday sell schemes to charitable initiatives linked to COVID-19.

Communicating change

At this time, communication is crucial. We understand that you may be having difficult conversations with employees regarding their employment status and that these may have repercussions for their reward packages. Now more than ever is the time to make sure employees know what you are doing to support them and how to take advantage of the benefits on offer to them.

The above presents just a snapshot of how you might adapt to the shifting environment. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you up to date with the latest thinking from us and Mercer. You can get started with their series of bite-size COVID-19 webcasts which can be found here, and please come back here to our blog for further information and guidance.