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4 strategies to get your employees engaged through new benefits during the COVID-19 crisis

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The decisions for many employers to start a remote workforce were made and executed in a hurry as the coronavirus pandemic escalated quickly and the new normal set in. Employees who may have thrived in a social office setting are suddenly finding the alone time unsettling, while others may wish they were alone as they share workspace with a partner and/or their children.

It has made it more difficult than ever for companies to keep staff feeling engaged, happy, and fulfilled – which can lead to stressed, less productive employees. Motivating employees to engage with health and well-being programs should be a high priority for all organizations. This may mean reexamining the programs that were put in place for employees pre-COVID-19 to ensure the benefits and services meet the changing needs of a remote workforce.

Look at your current suite of engagement programs and benefits. Do they still work?
Before the pandemic, companies were starting to place a huge focus on employees’ personal fulfillment – making sure that their employees were not just getting their jobs done, but that they felt welcome, motivated, and purposeful in their workplace. Many companies successfully shifted to putting their people first and acknowledging their employee’s needs, rather than just facilitating a group of functional cogs in a machine.

This was often accomplished by fostering great company cultures through in-person events, programs and wellness benefits like happy hours, group workout classes, and open spaces for collaboration in the office. While great for fostering engagement in-office, the pandemic has thrown every one of those physical types of engagement opportunities out the window.

Now, HR professionals and managers must turn to remote engagement programs and innovative benefits to ensure that their employees’ health and well-being is still at the forefront.

Which benefits and programs keep engagement high and stress low?
By transitioning your team to a remote workforce, you have already demonstrated support for their physical and mental well-being and health - which is an important first step. Now it’s time to up your organizational game to find new, engaging options that work in an at-home, virtual environment.

A great way to determine which new benefits will work for remote employees is to figure out where their stresses and needs are and find benefits which help alleviate those stresses and keep engagement up. Looking at your employees’ stresses and needs from both a physical and mental perspective is key – solving one without the other won’t close the loop.

Look into financial wellness benefits to ease concerns about money
Financial wellness is more critical now than it ever has been as employees need access to financial resources to ease stress and help them make smart financial decisions. If your company currently offers a financial wellness program, make sure your employees are aware of the resources and know how to access them.

If you don’t, what better way to greet the return of shell-shocked employees with an employer-sponsored financial wellness benefit? Not only can they rely on you for continued employment, they know you care about their health and well-being and are willing to put them first.

An employee financial wellness program can help individuals assess the current state of their financial health and provide a roadmap with the support of resources to help them improve their financial well-being.

Create an environment where health is top of mind
For many, de-stressing involves physical activity, whether that is lifting weights, taking part in a group fitness class, or doing yoga. With gyms being closed due to the pandemic, people have more limited options to stay active. Stress hinders an employee's ability to remain productive, but exercising and staying active combats that. Having a few moments to disconnect from work and get blood pumping goes a long way for employees’ long-term physical and mental health.

Implementing a physical wellness program for employees is a great way to encourage your employees to stay active. This can be done by booking virtual fitness trainers through Zoom for an online group workout or reimbursing them for online group classes or apps. Having a variety of wellness resources not only gives your employees more outlets, it shows that you value all aspects of their health.

No one could have predicted the dramatic impact the coronavirus pandemic would have on all aspects of life, but it has highlighted the importance of accessible financial wellness services and how employees are focusing on the benefits their employers offer. Employees want to be seen, heard, and feel like their needs and wants are essential to the organizations they devote so much time and energy to, despite being stuck at home. To keep your employees engaged, happy, and not interested in looking for employment elsewhere, look beyond the traditional benefits landscape to adopt innovative benefits that will reap high dividends now and in the future.

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