The last year brought a lot of change with it, including how and where employees work. With an emphasis on streamlining remote work settings, most individuals worldwide are feeling the impact of social isolation, fear and uncertainty, and financial and economic hardships.

As a result, many employers recognize their workforce’s personal and professional struggles and prioritize employees’ health in 2021. As communities and businesses focus on recovering and rebuilding from the initial impact of COVID-19, here are some tips for prioritizing employees’ health and well-being in 2021 and beyond.

Strengthening Virtual Connections

In Los Angeles, California alone, calls to crisis hotlines have increased 8,000%.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that individuals who display symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders quadrupled since the pandemic.

The first step in prioritizing employees’ health and well-being addresses any hurdles in working remotely, which is typically centered around strengthening virtual connections.

  • Encourage the use of webcams. While it may not replace the effect of in-person meetings, it helps engagement. Reading facial expressions, body language, and just seeing an individual’s face can make for less awkward discussions and restore some normalcy in virtual meetings.
  • Conduct frequent team meetings and one-on-one meetings. The best way to open dialogues is by providing opportunities to have them. Conducting a weekly or daily check-in can help address any outstanding projects your team may be struggling with or need additional resources to complete. Hosting one-on-one meetings with your team members can also help open the door for employees to express any concerns or communicate personal struggles and find the help they need more efficiently.
  • Promote team-building activities. This can be many activities, such as a happy/social hour, “Fun Fridays,” or an interactive web-based game that allows all team members to participate. Taking a brief break from strictly professional tasks and projects can revive the team’s productivity and engagement.
  • Foster respect. Even before the pandemic, respect should be a foundational value in your organization. However, remote work and evolving business operation decisions can lead to miscommunication, misconceptions, and misunderstandings. To help deter this, foster respect by reminding your team to be mindful of word choices, other members’ personal struggles, and time (i.e., not running past a meeting’s set time). These may seem like small gestures, but the impact it can have, especially in a remote setting, can be monumental.

Supporting Year-Round Benefits Engagement

Another strong emphasis in prioritizing employees’ health is ramping up benefit options. This can include expanding healthcare coverage or alternative healthcare solutions (i.e., cost-sharing communities) and adding voluntary benefits, such as financial wellness and mental health support programs.

However, benefits are only useful if an employee knows about them and understands them. According to a 2020 MetLife study, at least 15% of employees say they do not understand their benefits. Here are some tips to support year-round benefits engagement to ensure you’re not only fulfilling employee benefit demands but also successfully communicating your benefits to your employees to increase employee benefits engagement.

  1. Determine the overall goal

All communications should have a clear goal. For example, if your goal is to tackle frequently asked questions regarding open enrollment, you might consider distributing a survey to employees to determine common questions to answer.

  1. Speak to your employees

Keeping the main goal in mind, each communication should be relevant to the goal. For example, suppose you’re looking to keep employees informed of new benefits rolling out during open enrollment. In that case, you may consider highlighting how those benefits will directly assist your employees, how to utilize such benefits and any other questions that may arise.

  1. Short, concise messaging

Although benefits can be a complex topic, it is essential to communicate with short and concise messaging. To help develop your messaging, consider the following communication formula:

  • Pitch: “Here’s something you may not know about your benefits.”
  • Address the “why”: “This is why it’s important to you.”
  • Call to action: “Here’s how you can learn more.”
  1. Communicate across different platforms

Not all employees check their emails, and not all employees retain information the same way. To improve your employee reach and engagement, try communicating across different platforms, such as distributing printed flyers via snail mail, sending mass email communications, posting videos on the company intranet or social media accounts, and hosting informational webinars.

  1. Create a Communication Calendar

Now that you’ve considered all the components of what and how to communicate, you should evaluate when to send these communications. Establishing a communication calendar can help organize important deadlines and schedule communications accordingly.

The mental health of your employees is crucial right now. If they aren’t feeling well, they likely won’t perform well while on the clock. Now is the perfect time to ask yourself, are you doing enough for them while they are doing the work for you.

Robin Paggi is an HR Expert for VensureHR.

Employee stock photo by insta_photos/Shutterstock