Aquent to cover employee healthcare premiums for the holidays
Aquent, a workforce staffing firm for marketing and creative talent, is giving employees a break from having to pay healthcare premiums for the holidays.
For two consecutive pay cycles, Aquent’s U.S. employees will see some extra money in their paychecks, as the company assumes responsibility for their healthcare premiums. The gift comes during a time when a few extra dollars can go a long way.
“We’re giving our talent a health premium holiday for two weeks,” says John Chuang, CEO of Aquent. “This has been a really tough year with the pandemic and with the economy. So we wanted to help [our employees] out.”
During this moratorium, Aquent employees will still be completely covered, and the premiums will never have to be repaid. The estimated savings for enrolled, working employees is $300,000 total.
Chuang was inspired to give back because of the difficult year employees have faced, but also because of the money the organization saved through the decline in claims activity.
“We noticed that because of the pandemic, we had a really good claims experience in April and May,” Chuang says. “Because everyone was in lockdown at home we had a lot fewer claims. Elective [treatments] have gotten postponed [almost] indefinitely.”
Over the last eight months, Aquent has expanded those benefits to include a 401(k) match and sick pay for all. For employer clients, the company is allowing them to defer the employer portion of FICA taxes on their new hires.
“COVID-19 has taught us a lot and one of the biggest lessons [has been the need for] sick pay,” Chuang says. “Without sick pay you're really unprepared for a pandemic. That's one example of something that companies can do because it's much healthier for their operations.”
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for employers to provide more holistic benefits that alleviate the mental and financial stressors in their employees’ lives. More than a quarter of employers have boosted employee health benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to research from Fidelity Investments. Indeed, several of those employers include Starbucks, Noodles & Company, and Levi Strauss.
“Now more than ever, employers need to double down on investments they make to protect their greatest asset: their employees,” Chuang says. “Stress and physical separation in the workplace threaten the well-being and success of workers, so employers should do everything they can to make employees feel valued and part of the company culture.”