COVID-19 has changed how we work. There has been a shift to remote work to enable companies to continue operating and be able to protect the health and safety of their workers.
Some companies, especially tech giants in Silicon Valley, already envision having a substantially remote workforce, even post coronavirus pandemic.
As such, companies have to evolve and develop new strategies to cater to remote employees in their corporate wellness programs.
Here are 7 ways in which COVID-19 will change corporate wellness programs.
1. There will be increased demand for online fitness resources
With work being done remotely, there is going to be an increased demand for online fitness programs. This will include online fitness classes, videos, on-demand resources, or even fitness apps.
Workers will have access to all sorts of workouts from the comfort of their homes. However, we all know finding the discipline to work out may be difficult for people working from home.
So, incentives like a refund of a gym membership, or rewards steps for logging into a fitness tracker will evolve to incentives that make remote workers want to work out from home.
You would have things like reimbursements for streaming workout videos, provision of simple home workout equipment like resistance bands, medicine balls, form rollers, among other incentives.
2. Corporate wellness programs will be key in reducing healthcare costs
One of the goals of corporate wellness programs is to reduce healthcare costs.
Successful implementation of corporate wellness programs can save a company from incurring high-cost insurance claims, especially on conditions caused by a lack of physical activity like diabetes, back pain, and obesity.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that employers who self fund their health benefit costs will see their costs jump by 7% this year. This will be as a result of the testing and treating COVID-19 cases.
This increase in cost is on top of a 5% cost increase employers had projected for this year.
In light of this, many companies will make budget cuts to cater for the increased costs.
Also, you will see more companies fortify their corporate wellness programs to prevent these costs. So, you will see them motivate their employees to work out, and create support systems to make it easy for them to work out.
3. There will be increased uptake of telemedicine
Telemedicine is the practice of caring for patients remotely, with the patient and health professional not being physically present in the same space.The health care professional evaluates, diagnoses, and treats the patient at a distance using telecommunication technology.
With the COVID-19, more corporate wellness programs will encourage their employees to take up telemedicine whenever they feel unwell.
The key reason is that emergency room visits are expensive. Statistics show with each avoided emergency department visit, patients save between $309 to $1,500, while cost savings from alternate care types is about $114 per visit.
These expenses add up pretty fast, and in a time like this, the savings will go a long way for companies.
So, you will see more corporate wellness programs require their staff and family members to use telemedicine, whenever their health conditions can be managed so.
4. Employees will ask for mental health benefits
Although COVID-19 is a physical disease, its impact on mental well being cannot be denied.
People are dealing with physical isolation, fear of getting infected with the virus, the stress of working from home and taking care of children, separation from family and friends, misinformation of the virus, the uncertainty of the future, among other myriads of issues.
As such, there will be an increased demand by employees on their corporate wellness programs to cater to their mental health needs.
Responsive corporate wellness programs will address the issue and find mental health professionals for their employees.
Post COVID-19, it is more than likely, corporate wellness programs will cover mental health in their programs if they do not do so already.
5. People who have chronic conditions will need more support than usual
Other than mental health, COVID-19 is having a toll on chronic illness. Lifestyle conditions like type 2 diabetes, chronic pain, hypertension, obesity are becoming worse with people staying at home.
With factors like reduced physical activity, comfort eating, poor ergonomics in-home workstations, increased stress, and lack of access to care are to blame. Corporate wellness programs will be needed to cater to these specific chronic conditions of their employees.
6. Digitization of corporate wellness programs
Most corporate wellness programs are site-based. They have a gym, a healthy snack bar, on-site health fair, biometric screening, and one on one health coaching, among many more site-based interactions.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate wellness programs will have to go digital if they have not, or scale up if they are already digital.
The benefits will be that employees will be able to stick to their wellness routine wherever they are, and they will be able to track their progress. Also, HR will be more efficient in managing the program and will reduce their work.
7. Remote talent incentive
Corporate wellness programs are used by companies to attract and retain top talent. As more jobs become remote, workers are likely to look for companies that have strong wellness programs.
You’ll likely see more companies invest in their programs, especially those in knowledge-based industries like technology, and use it to attract top talent.
Corporate wellness programs have a tremendous impact on the health and well being of the employees.
They are needed now more than ever in these times of COVID-19. They are going to be instrumental in keeping people healthy and sane as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.
However, they are going to change how they run to accommodate the evolving dynamics of work and employees’ needs brought about by this pandemic.
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