Providing value to your company through your total rewards package can feel stressful and overwhelming on a regular day, but, in the midst of furloughs, layoffs, and plans for reopening during a pandemic, it can be downright dreadful. I have spoken to top professionals in New York City, and they have provided me with a myriad of great ideas to help employees, companies, and HR deal with the stress. I have selected the top 7 ideas you can use now to give peace of mind to you, your staff, and management, so you can all enjoy what’s important to you. Most are at little to no cost to the company! And who knows, implementing a few of these could help you earn your seat at the table, and you might win your company’s MVP award.
Here are the top 7:
1. SAVE MONEY
Saving money for your company is more important than ever. Many companies are paying too much for their broker relationship. However, with PEO’s offering discounts and scrambling to earn your business by providing you with more value, this is a great time to get quotes. This will ensure your plan is still competitive, and your CFO will love you for this! You are busy, I know. The good news is, you don’t have to make the calls and do all the work. In case you didn’t know, there are PEO brokers who will do all the work for you. Their services are 100% complimentary and will provide you with a side-by-side analysis with multiple PEO and also non-PEO options when appropriate. Mind blown, I know! PEO brokers are unbiased and can help your company find the right solution to save money on health insurance, payroll, worker's compensation and HR administration.
2. PROTECTING YOUR STAFF
Coronavirus has driven more of our life, work and socializing online. With that cybercriminals are looking for new ways to hack and scam their way into everyone’s personal data and accounts. Now more than ever, it is not only important to safeguard our physical; but our digital health needs safeguarding, too. There have been countless stories of fraud and identity theft related to the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment-benefits fraud, phishing scams, medical, credit, and tax fraud are among the most prevalent and on the rise.
Identity-theft thieves are nondiscriminatory, so it can impact anyone at the company, from the janitor to the CEO. Because protecting your employees protects your company, identity-theft services are more important than ever. Let me make this clear: I do not mean identity-theft services from the employee’s bank or credit card. Those are limited in scope and scale of their effectiveness when an employee has an issue, and can leave your employees doing most, if not all of the work to fix it. An identity-theft plan should be part of the employee benefits-package and include full restoration on behalf of the impacted employee. This way, while your employees are working for you, they have professionals working for them to resolve their identity-theft issues.
The most valuable benefit now is a group legal plan. While having an EAP is great, most of them are severely limited in how much they will do for an employee’s legal issues. Having a legal plan can help employees navigate these uncharted territories of coronavirus and beyond. Legal plans should cover items like getting a will completed; unlimited advice for things like landlord/tenant issues, as well as making phone calls and writing letters on your employees’ behalf when faced with difficult situations. The piece that is of grave importance to a legal plan is emergency access to attorney’s. The best legal plan would have 24/7 emergency access in case an employee or his/her family member gets into a situation where the police are involved, s/heis injured, or his/her child's custody is at risk by authorities. The immediate advice of an attorney while an employee is at his/her most vulnerable can make a world of difference on the outcome of the situation and can be a lifesaver.
3. MEAL PLANS
My wife gets fed at work breakfast, lunch and even dinner, if she decides to work late, by world-class chefs. Now I am her “world-class chef,” well the best chef in my house who isn’t her. OK, I’m useless in the kitchen. To help employees actually work from home instead of being in their kitchen cooking for hours, companies are giving as little as a $50 meal allowance per week that's paid by the company and allows employees to order meals through Seamless or as a reimbursed expense. This is a nice perk to offer and also helps support local restaurants.
4. FINANCIAL EDUCATION AND PLANNING
Your pay was just reduced, but not your bills, leaving you too much month at the end of the money. How do you navigate this? Bring in the coaches! A financial coach usually can help employees with a simple financial action plan. Most companies charge for these services, but there are many who will do it for free in hopes that they get the chance to stay! With a simple Google search, I was able to find several not-for-profits offering financial coaching for free so employees feel a sense of relief knowing they have a plan despite the initial shock of cash-flow worries. The best coaches are able to demystify personal finance with empathy, providing on-demand one-on-one support and expert guidance.
5. LEARNING TOOLS & TRANSITION
Working with uncertainty about your company’s future or your role in the company can feel fearful, no matter your position in the company. Supplying online learning tools can leave employees feeling at peace knowing they have upgraded their skills to become more valuable to the company. If they are let go, they will have the best start in finding a new job. A dedicated rep in HR would also be helpful to walk them through the process of filing for unemployment and offering them job leads.
6. PARENT SUCCESS TOOLS
STOP pulling your sister’s hair! Oh, the joys of Zoom calls with a full house. If you are a parent, you understand what I’m talking about. If you aren't, then you’ve probably seen, or heard your co-workers’ children on your Zoom calls. Helping parents to keep a balance between family time and work can be priceless. Providing resources for parents to help their children learn and keep busy can be easy. There are many free resources, like “Learn at home with YouTube,” that are both enjoyable and educational for the entire family. My favorite are the museums and zoos offering free tours.
7. PREVENT BURNOUT
Tired of Zoom? We all are, but it is the most effective tool right now to offer some fun and a release from work. Offering virtual happy hours with private rooms to network seem to work best to keep employee morale up. By creating smaller groups within the happy hour and limiting the group to 4-5 people creates an environment that feels like they are hanging out with their co-workers. Be sure to switch up the groups, too. We all miss the water cooler, and this is a great way to keep up-to-date with our buddies.
Have a Brown Bag Seminar. It’s a great way to include your current staff in presenting topics that are of interest to them and might be of interest to other staff. Kind of like a show-and-tell. It can be any topic and doesn’t have to be related to your business. For example, if you have a psychologist or social worker on your staff, s/he can present some tips on staying “mentally healthy” while working from home or how to cope during periods of isolation. It can also be as diverse as an employee discussing his/her interest in learning how to surf off the coast of Fiji while giving back to the local community, how s/he learned to play the piano while at home, or why they decided to start a bird sanctuary in his/her neighborhood. The sessions are especially important for staff whose workload had changed during the pandemic and might feel a bit disconnected. Look at drafting some “skill-building” workshops for professional development, too. The workshops can be held weekly, biweekly, once per month or quarterly.
Create a company holiday. If you can get the authorization for it, follow the lead of Google and make it your own. Google asked employees to take a day off on May 22, to address work-from-home-related burnout during the coronavirus pandemic. Create a random holiday as an excuse for people to get adjusted to the new norm. Even a half day will raise morale.