With more than one-third of U.S. adults now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there’s brighter days on the horizon. Over a year ago, coronavirus upended the entire health care landscape — and the danger and breadth of the pandemic has accelerated change to previously unseen speeds. Not only are clinicians and health policy experts thinking about what the post-pandemic world will look like, but HR and Benefits professionals are evaluating what type of solutions their organizations should provide employees.
Embracing technology in healthcare
COVID-19 demonstrated that even in an enormous industry like health care, change can come quickly when it’s necessary. Patients understandably avoided hospitals and clinics because of the risk of exposure — leading to quick opportunities for innovation.
Telemedicine isn’t new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has really put the technology front and center. Between the Covid restrictions or those that didn’t feel comfortable leaving their homes, many people have had little choice but to use telehealth services. Moving forward, telemedicine benefits will become increasingly important to both job seekers and employees.
Mental health is a top priority
All the disruptions and anxieties that have accompanied the pandemic have taken a toll on employees’ mental health. As offices start to open up or organizations are finding their “new normal,” it’s important for employers to get ahead of these issues by implementing expanded mental health programs related to depression, stress, and loss. Now is a good time for employers to offer a more robust employee assistance program (EAP), especially one that offers telehealth or virtual consultations. By creating a supportive environment around mental health, employees will have an easier time maintaining focus and routine when their emotional needs are managed.
Employees needs are changing
While working from home isn’t an option in every occupation, most employees are looking for increased job flexibility. Many have enjoyed some aspects of working remotely, making it likely to continue well into the future. Even with companies opening up offices and bringing team members back, most employees want to hold onto at least some of the flexibility. According to a survey by Glassdoor, more than 60% of employees would like to continue working from home full-time even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, if given the option. The perks of ping pong tables, free lunches, happy hours, and other activities are long gone – people are now looking for roles where they have flexible work schedules, emotional and mental health support, and other medical benefits that support stress and wellness.
Post COVID-19 Health Issues
The COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in employees delaying regular health care, avoiding doctor appointments, or failing to get routine exams and cancer screenings. As a result, in the next few years we could potentially see higher rates of late diagnosed cancers and other diseases with poor outcomes. This is a vital issue that employers need to target by encouraging employees to follow up with annual screenings and preventative care moving forward.
Employers will need to step up to the plate as we move out of the pandemic and in the many years to come by delivering health care solutions that meets employees’ growing and understandable expectations. With this, strong safety precautions, clear communication, and embracing innovative health solutions, organizations will have an even stronger workforce moving forward.