Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have learned a number of valuable lessons about how to best support employee wellbeing. Let’s take a look at how the coronavirus has brought this to light and why physical, emotional, and financial programs are more important now.
Risk to People with Chronic Diseases
While many people know that conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can impact quality of life and increase health care costs, COVID-19 puts people with chronic diseases at a higher risk for complications or even death.
It’s highly likely that every employer has employees with one or more chronic diseases. In fact, nearly half of all adults have an underlying condition that can be tied to a higher severity of COVID-19. By effectively addressing chronic diseases, we can reduce risks and complications from COVID-19, the flu, and other viruses. Therefore, it’s vital that employers offer employee wellbeing programs designed to help manage their chronic diseases through personalized support and resources. Not only can they help reduce risks, but they can help employees achieve an overall healthier lifestyle.
Limited or No In-Person Medical Care
At the height of the pandemic, people couldn’t see their doctors. Even today, many are avoiding in-person care because the risk of contracting the virus outweighs the benefits of being seen. The CDC reported that a quarter of adults avoided medical care because of concerns related to COVID-19. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in people using virtual care technology. In fact, telehealth visits doubled in the spring, with about 1.6 million encounters occurring between January and March 2020. However, there are still people that haven’t received regular medical care for months. And with the most recent rise in cases, we can expect this to continue for the immediate future.
Employee wellbeing programs fill these gaps in care by offering digital programs and services that are affordable and accessible from anywhere. This allows people to get the right care at the right time, without having to leave their homes and put themselves at risk.
Lack of Social Connection
The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the mental health of many Americans. According to Dr. Vivian Pender, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, “We’re in the midst of a mental health epidemic right now, and I think it’s only gonna get worse.” As a result of COVID-19, 53% of adults say their mental health has suffered and the number of anti-depressant prescriptions has increased 14%.
When the country experienced widespread lock downs, we saw a quick rise in virtual communication because people crave social connection. Today, many people are still working from home, and we can count on remote working for at least the foreseeable future.
Digital employee wellbeing solutions, especially those focused on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, offer programs and services that can help address feelings of isolation and worry. No matter where a person is, or when they need help, they’re able to get it in the comfort of their home. Digital employee wellbeing solutions can also help keep co-workers connected through challenges and social encouragement. And, employees will feel more connected to their employer.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t been financially affected by coronavirus. And if they haven’t personally been affected, you can bet they know someone who has been.
When the country shut down earlier this year, many businesses had to cut salaries, furlough employees, and even worse, lay people off. The pandemic has disrupted financial situations and our sense of security. So, many people are anxious about their financial situation and how COVID will continue to impact their future. As a result, employees are looking for tools to help them get through. Employee wellbeing programs that address financial health have come to the rescue for many. With these programs, employees have access to free financial resources and support that they otherwise wouldn’t have or wouldn’t be able to afford.
Addressing Overall Employee Wellbeing
When you consider the above issues that have come to light as a result of COVID-19, the biggest realization is that it’s important to address all aspects of employee wellbeing. Physical health…mental health…financial health…all of these things are intertwined and you can’t possibly address one without touching on the others. The pandemic has amplified the need for a whole-person approach to health and wellness.
As an employer, you can amplify your impact by putting your wellness dollars towards employee wellbeing programs that are easily accessible and give your employees what they need…in good times and in bad. Not only is it better for your business, but it’s better for everyone.