How COVID-19 is changing the way HR professionals think about employee benefits

Stack of health insurance application forms with stethoscope on top
A new survey examines how the pandemic is changing the way HR professionals think about employee benefits. (Getty/vinnstock)

COVID-19 is changing the way human resources professionals view employee benefits, a new survey shows.

Artemis Health, a data analytics company, polled 300 benefits leaders at firms with more than 5,000 employees and found that 78% reported employee health and well-being became a significantly higher priority over the course of 2020.

The number of professionals who identified improving employee health as a top goal doubled from 2019 to 2020, the survey found. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed named bettering health and well-being as their top goal in 2020, up from 36% the year prior.

Guide

3 Keys to the Future of CX in Healthcare

Cut to the chase with this quick-read outlining 3 consumer experience (CX) strategies payers can start using immediately to fuel better outcomes and drive more value in 2021.

“Employers increasingly recognize the role they play in an employee’s physical and mental well-being. During COVID-19, many benefits leaders are working with Artemis to measure the health impacts of the pandemic, such as stress, delayed care, and increased telemedicine usage,” said Grant Gordon, CEO and co-founder of Artemis Health, in a statement.

RELATED: COVID-19 is pushing employers to offer new virtual care offerings, survey finds

“Benefits analytics is a key tool for leaders looking to address gaps in employee benefits, improve employee well-being, and manage ever-increasing costs," Gordon said.

The surveyed benefits professionals said they expect their focus on the issue to only grow in 2021.

Also as a result of the pandemic, the survey found that these professionals are increasingly motivated by improving the health of employees and less so by controlling costs. In 2020, 52% said improving health was their primary personal motivation, compared to 15% in 2019.

By contrast, just 5% said they were motivated by saving the company money, compared to 15% who said the same in 2019.

RELATED: Federal guidance enables employers to mandate workers get COVID-19 vaccine

In addition, the survey found more benefits professionals feel they are "ahead of the curve" in planning for employees' needs. Thirty percent of those surveyed said so, and 57% said they are keeping up with trends.

In 2019, 18% said they felt they were ahead of the curve on employee benefits.

Looking ahead, the survey found HR leaders are especially focused on mental well-being and the potential impacts on behavioral health as a result of the pandemic. 

“During this turbulent time, more than ever, I need to figure out how to take care of our employees," a director at a company with more than 50,000 workers said in the survey.