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Future Of Work: Employee Benefits Post COVID Era

The effect of COVID-19 has been unprecedented for the businesses and as well as for the employees. The health and safety of the employees are of utmost importance now and companies are re-evaluating their employee benefits policies to tackle crisis situations in the future.

ekincare conducted a webinar hosted by Kiran Kalakuntla, Founder & CEO - ekincare where our speakers Dr. Ramesh Byrapaneni, Managing Director - Endiya Partners, Rajita Singh, Head HR - Broadridge, Sridhar Sarathy, SVP HR - Tata Capital and Amit Sharma, VP HR - Volvo Group discussed the changing landscape of employee benefits post-COVID crisis and discussed how to plan better for the future.

Life post-COVID19

In this perspective, Dr. Ramesh Byrapaneni rightly pointed out that cardiovascular disease has always been the number one killer. This is the first time ever in the recent past that any other illness especially infectious diseases became the number one killer as in April 2020 COVID killed more people than the heart diseases in just one month. The only way to get rid of this disease is to get a vaccine and normally any vaccine development is a 10 to 15-year cycle as you need to identify the target and then if it is successful, the pharmaceutical companies make a go/no-go decision and then it goes to the phase 1 studies, phase 2 studies, phase 3 studies before it is finally launched into the market. Even if we are able to get the vaccine, unless the entire world is not vaccinated, it won't be able to protect anyone. 

The combination therapy only can help us prevent the spread of this disease, which includes the following measures: 

  • Hygiene measures
  • Screening
  • Social Distancing
  • Wearing masks regularly

And if any of these is skipped, the treatment won't work. 

Impact of COVID19 at the workplace

Addressing this problem at the workplace, Mr. Sridhar Sarathy shared his views that irritation, frustration, angriness, boredom, being lethargy, anxiety, and uncertainty were the major problems faced by the employees during this lockdown. COVID-19 has actually brought the world to a pause. There have been huge challenges among employees dealing with their fear and uncertainty. The daily work routine has been disrupted and time has come where people have enough time not only for ourselves but also for their families. The fact is whether we like it or not, work from home is going to be the new normal.

So, therefore, keeping employees engaged through this lockdown is of utmost importance for all the companies. Also, there are certain expectations that all our employees have from the new policies that may come into place soon - 

  • Safety
  • Continuous support during difficult times
  • Continuous engagement
  • Trust and transparency
  • Inspire and motivate
  • Learning opportunity

Most importantly providing physical and mental wellness not only to the employees but also to their family members. 

Issues faced as part of employee mental wellbeing

In this regard, Ms. Rajita shared a study report conducted by Buffer, a US-based company about what employees feel about working from home. The survey report says that 56% of the employees said that they are suffering or on the verge of anxiety and stress because of working from home. She also noticed that people were coming in with personal issues and also witnessed a rise in disciplinary action cases in organizations.  Also, sexual harassment complaints have risen, cases of mental harassment at the workplace have risen and people have come back with grievances across different organizations.

Since it's a combination of the physical and the digital world, organizations need to balance the two. They need to encourage people to take regular breaks and try some mindfulness techniques. There are a lot of EAP organizations like the Silver Oak and Social Organize who have developed apps and provide mental wellness programs where people could just pick up the phone and talk to a counselor because, at times when you're with your family, you can still be alone. 

Measures taken by manufacturing industries to help employees fight COVID19

COVID19 is a classic change curve, said Mr. Amit. He believed that the lessons which organizations have learned in the last two months now are that their workforce planning is not there for the uncertainties, organizations are not equipped for the workforce which is in line with all that is happening now. While the manufacturing organizations felt that work from home is not for them, they realize that in the last 45 to 50 days there's much higher acceptability of work from home. Another big thing was the effectiveness of employee communication that we as a team will continue to communicate employees saying don't worry no job cuts, no salary cuts and we are going to be standing with you and be able to take care of you in all situations. This leadership kind of messages telling them about the business scenarios and how we are dealing with it helped a lot, said, Mr. Amit. 

This COVID-19 crisis is something that everyone needs to be prepared for and adapt themselves. So one thing that is crystal clear is that organizations constantly need to evaluate themselves and improve on their processes because that's the only way they could manage the crisis.

For more, refer to this Remote Working Guide by Xoxoday

Prachi Bharadwaj is an experienced Marketing Communications Executive with a demonstrated history of working in the health tech & higher education industries.