Employers look to prioritize well-being of remote workers

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Oct 6 – Several U.S. companies are looking to prioritize employee well-being by offering perks such as home delivery of meals and subsidized furniture to meet the rigors of working from home, a survey showed on Wednesday.

One of five employers have such plans for next year, according to early results from a national survey of 1,502 respondents that was conducted by employee benefits consultant Mercer between June and September.

With a majority of people working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are looking for at-home alternatives for offerings such as subsidized healthy food choices in cafeterias or onsite gyms, the survey of employer-sponsored health plans found.

Large companies such as Twitter and PwC have said they would allow some U.S. employees to work from home and live anywhere, and some others have delayed reopening offices.

The well-being measures such as virtual cooking, exercise, yoga classes and apps for relaxation can cost between $1 and $3 a month per employee, said Beth Umland, director of research for health and benefits at Mercer and Elissa Rosenbaum, principal in Mercer’s health business.

A man works from home amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shoreline, Washington, U.S., March 23, 2020.
A man works from home during the COVID pandemic in Shoreline, Washington.
Reuters

One of four employers were emphasizing virtual care strategies for workers living away from urban areas, the survey showed. Last year, at the height of the pandemic when people stayed indoors, the use of telehealth services from companies such as Teladoc Health Inc jumped.

Seventy-six percent of survey respondents with 500 or more employees said addressing issues related to employees’ mental and emotional health will be a top priority over the next 3-5 years, compared with just 44% that considered it a priority in Mercer’s 2019 survey.

Roughly one-third of the respondents provide employees with a virtual behavioral healthcare option, often through specialized programs from companies such as video-based therapy services provider Ginger, and 21% said they were considering the option.



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