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The world is no longer the same. Masks and hand sterilizers are the bare minima for social acceptance at the outset until the world gets vaccinated. People tried their best to transform from meeting rooms to Zoom meetings and office desks to couch-beds, but that’s not all that changed.

Let’s talk about Yasmeen, a C-suite employee working through her day job from home. While her organization thoroughly switched to a virtual office, Yasmeen’s sales commissions still come home in Sodexo cards for her to spend on her necessities and recreation. So what does she do with tokens worth $500 when she can’t spend anywhere? Just like Yasmeen, millions of other employees are searching for answers to the same question.

Rewards and benefits were different commodities in the pre-pandemic world. With every organization’s expansive plans thrown right out the window last March, companies were involved companies involved in cost-cutting and kept only the bare essentials.

This led to staff working long hours in a fire-fighting mode gasping for breath to keep the ship afloat. While most of them survived thanks to their workforce’s courageous efforts, it came with shell-shocked employees burdened with stress and fatigue. The risk of depression is up by 102% in the States during these testing times, making it an urgent matter to be addressed.

With employee morale affected, depression on the upswing, and rising insecurities, organizations must rethink their employee rewards and benefits strategy for a healthy workplace—be it virtually or within an arm’s reach. With talent retention rising the ranks as a CEO’s priority, let us look at how a versatile rewards strategy keeps your team from jumping ship in the coming times.

Employees have a lot to worry about already.

With the pandemic almost reaching its pinnacle and (fingers crossed) getting ready to subside, the modern employee is stuck at home, waiting for their groceries, wondering if their family is keeping safe while worrying about their health. Gossip of mass-sackings and salary cuts has got their lips pursed, and they are working harder than ever.

These adversities create a lot of stress, and people tend to overcompensate by working long hours and this can affect the quality of work. With bags full of negativities surrounding them, the organization must lend a hand to signify that it cares. There’s no better way than rewards and well-being initiatives to make them feel at home—literally.‍

Employee Rewards & Well-being have now taken the center stage

Burnout has always been an associated risk with employees, but it blew out of proportion overnight since 2020. Digital well-being platform subscriptions have gained significance and are now considered a lifeline, and of course, who would’ve thought that employee morale would boost up on the news of their employer sponsoring their vaccine shots?

The crucial reward actions have moved on from traditional dopamine-sleazy offerings to safety and security options. So let us analyze the employee rewards and benefits that your organization should implement in the long run. While we pray that this pandemic dies down real soon, these benefits would positively keep your employees by your side through thick and thin.

Must-have Employee Rewards and Benefits during COVID-19

1. Healthcare & Medical Benefits

With most employees covered under employer-sponsored insurance plans, a raging pandemic led to an outcry from those who aren’t. As per the bureau of labour statistics, back in March 2020, almost 80% of private industry employees had access to employer-sponsored medical care (give or take), which posed a risk to the insurance industry—a domino effect with the power to crush the whole American economy.

This led to an inevitable rise in premium rates for individual and family plans. Still, the importance of having a medical insurance policy—an employer-sponsored one—is now unmatched. Hence, the employer must take up everything from discounts on doctor consultations to arranging oxygen beds, giving employees the privilege to sleep easy at night. Rest assured that the organization has their back.

2. Mental Well-being & Job Security

As mentioned before, just being there for your employees means the world to them in these testing times. Mental health is one such category that already existed in employee assistance programs, and most organizations emphasized its importance further than before. As per Gartner’s report, almost 30% of HR transformation leaders suggest introducing new options for a greener mental well-being—ranging from virtual counselling to wellbeing apps that simply tell you to walk a hundred steps every 40 minutes.

Employees are scared to lose their jobs as the job market is down to its knees and hasn’t risen back up. While this gives a devious idea to exploit an employee, a great employer would ensure that they don’t add to an employee’s struggles. Something as ordinary as not checking on an employee for a couple of days or not replying to their email might make them feel their time is up.

The pandemic has visibly made people depressed with the loss of loved ones and an isolated lifestyle.

With people confined to their homes and constant fear of falling sick, overthinking every sneeze and cough, and feeling low about loved ones they lost, work is the last thing they worry about but it’s also the most important thing they need to cling to. Mental health benefits are not to be missed out on while taking care of employees and, if need be, pull them out of voids that they might not be aware of.‍

3. Employee Pay and Bonus

In the United States alone, unemployment reached new heights in April 2020 thanks to uncertainties surrounding the question “what now?” that led to massive rates of mass furloughs, layoffs, and even unpaid employment for months. Employees waited for their paychecks with sweaty brows, unsure if they would ever come or not. In this unfortunate circumstance, the onus fell on the organization to tackle it in the best way possible, ensuring minimal contingencies.

With this pandemic shaking up the global economy and increasing unemployment to an all-time high, an employer can’t just neglect employee pay and bonus due to a bad business year. Employee pay and bonus should attain normalcy without failure. Extensive bonus pay plans should be a part of the organization’s pay structure to ensure total commitment from employees with guaranteed efforts—if not results.‍

4. Remote Workspace Upgrades

Digital transformation was the motto of every business industry in the mid-2000s, and while they did everything they could to make it happen, the puzzle solved itself thanks to the pandemic. With almost every possible corporate venture now gone virtual (except the rigid ones that succumbed to severe wounds), remote workspaces were a new line of expenditure on every employee’s mind.

Be it a stable internet connection, ergonomic office chair, or a pair of loud noise-cancelling headphones; it is only fair to include home-office upgrades as a crucial employee benefit in these times. With companies like SnackNation thriving on keeping their clients’ workforces fueled on snacks and drinks every month, remote work benefits are now very much more than just a perk.‍

5. Digital Rewards are here to stay.

Every organization’s reward strategy now includes gift vouchers, prepaid cards, a points-based reward system, and more, thanks to a remote mode of work and an increased reliance on e-commerce. Digital rewards give breathing space to employees for their spending habits can be left to their whims to strengthen the roots of digital rewards in the employee benefits biosphere.

To conclude, make employees the core of your rewards strategy.

With the pandemic causing hardships to people throughout the globe, the greatest reward is lending an ear to your employees and letting them know that you are there for them. Medical care promises, salary assurance, job security, and mental health aren’t only contingency-specific but need to be addressed as the focal point of an employee’s well-being.

When we shall arise from this medical apocalypse, it’s the people of your organization who will be the best marketers of your organization’s work ethic in the future.

Reward your Workforce with your Existing HR Tools

With Xoxoday, it is now possible for your HR team to integrate a robust R&R program to the HRMS tools you use, such as SAP SuccessFactors, DarwinBox, ZohoPeople, and others. With a digitized reward program, reduce attrition and keep your employees engaged while we take care of logistics and help you create a seamless reward redemption experience.

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Guest Contributor

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