Common Revisions to Large Employer Compensation & Benefits Policies in Response to COVID-19

Plus best practices to help you communicate the changes and promote relevant benefits offerings to your employees

Written by Allison Loehman | March 28, 2020

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the "Act") was signed into law, requiring employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. While large employers may be exempt from the Act, this doesn't mean leading enterprise organizations haven't taken action, or replicated similar leave allowances throughout their organization.

For example, The Business Group on Health recently conducted a survey describing the various actions large employers have taken to support their employees as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. We've combed through the survey to summarize the most common revisions to large employer benefits policies in response to COVID-19 for you to use as a pulse-check within your own organization. Additionally, our communication experts have weighed in on best practices to help you communicate the changes and promote relevant benefits offerings to your employees. Let's dive in.

Common large employer revisions to employee compensation and benefits policies to help mitigate risks associated with COVID-191

  • Offering pay continuation to employees that have been exposed to coronavirus or who are exhibiting cold/flu symptoms and can’t work from home.
  • Offering emergency leave/pay continuation to employees with cold or flu-like
    symptoms (but who have not tested positive for coronavirus) until they are cleared to return to work.
  • Supporting employees with pay continuation in certain circumstances, if they are
    not currently eligible for paid leave benefits.
  • Implementing benefits and resources to assist employees with childcare benefits and needed flexibility as a response to school closures due to coronavirus

Best practices to help communicate changes and promote relevant benefits offerings

1. Communicate early, communicate often

With changes happening by the minute, it's important to identify tools that allow you to communicate quickly and regularly with employees. According to a recent report from Gallup, large employers have used these tools most frequently throughout last month:

  • Email, direct mail, text messages, hotlines and internal systems (like custom benefits microsites) to promote pertinent information
  • Social media for public-facing messages
  • Signage located in common employee traffic areas

2. Promote relevant benefits offerings

Don't forget to highlight the relevant parts of your benefits strategies that are currently in place to support your employees holistically—financially, emotionally, physically and socially—during this pandemic. 

In that same Gallup study, CHRO leaders from the world's largest companies report they have begun creating content strategies focused on the following goals:

  • Increasing communications regarding telemedicine benefits 
  • Recommending available Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Reminding employees about mental health services for stress management
  • Teaching employees how to use back-up care programs, childcare subsidies or other dependent care benefits

3. Use content to comfort

If you are struggling to keep up, imagine how your employees feel! As part of your regular communication, consider sharing helpful content such as:

  • FAQ guides
  • Links to authorities and external organization such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The World Health Organization (WHO), Johns Hopkins University and local governments
  • Visuals of outbreak maps
  • Free learning courses for virtual employees struggling with adjusting to remote work
  • Trending articles

4. Make it personal

For many, the current pandemic has caused work to fully invade their personal lives, so don't be afraid to let your communication take on a personal tone as well. Aside from using casual, approachable language, personalization can also be achieved through audience segmentation—delivering separate, specific messages to designated groups of recipients (i.e. leaders, manager, employees, etc). 

Now, it's your turn

Whether you are a company of 501 or 50,000 there is much to gain from studying the decisions of other HR thought leaders at enterprise organizations—especially during a time where quickly implementing mitigation efforts to protect the well-being of your employees is not just an option, but a necessity.

Has your organization implemented any of these changes to your compensation and benefits policies? Are there any additional revisions you've made that are missing from the list? What tools and strategies are you using to communicate with your employees? We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below to provide guidance and support to your fellow enterprise HR leaders during this time. We're all in this together.

Let us help you quickly and easily communicate the information most important to your organization. Download our product sheet and we'll connect you with a benefits communication specialist to learn more.

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1Large Employer Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Quick Survey Part II, The Business Group On Health

Topics: Benefits Administration, COVID-19