In the COVID-19 Era, Employee Benefits Are Placing More Emphasis on Childcare, Mental Health


When it comes to employee wellness in the age of coronavirus, employees are placing more emphasis on childcare, mental health, and maintaining a strong connection to employees, according to the “Well-Being Index,” a quarterly survey from the Principal Financial Group. The survey of 500 business leaders who provide employee benefits was released this morning. (October 6, 2020)

“COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped the benefits landscape,” says Kara Hoogensen, senior vice president of U.S. Insurance Solutions for Principal. “Employees and employers alike are recognizing the need for coverage that protects the health and well-being of both individuals and their families. This has brought new meaning to benefits that may have previously fallen lower on an employee’s priority list, such as income protection, life insurance, and mental health programs.”


40% | Percentage of companies surveyed that allow employees to use their sick leave and/or vacation days for childcare needs.

38% | Percentage of companies that allow employees flexible work hours without reducing pay for working parents.

47% | Percentage of employers who say employees seem stressed or overwhelmed due to increased or more demanding workloads.

48% | Percentage or employers who say they’ve seen an increase in the utilization of mental health employee benefits or have had more questions about available mental health resources.

37% | Percentage of businesses that are allowing more employees to work remotely during COVID.

While cash flow is steady, businesses are continuing to react to the economic impacts of COVID-19 by looking for ways to cut budget, reducing investments in the business, and in some instances, using their personal finances to support the company.

“The road ahead will continue to be bumpy for many small businesses,” said Amy Friedrich, president of U.S. Insurance Solutions for Principal. “However, given the remarkable resilience of the small business community, I believe more companies will return to grow within the next 6-12 months. The findings of this quarter’s study highlight the optimism small and medium-sized businesses feel about what’s to come.”


Employee safety remains a chief concern for businesses

Businesses are eager to open back up. About half are fully operational when compared to before COVID-19.

Safety is the #1 reason why many have postponed reopening or have gone with a partial reopening.

45% | Percentage of surveyed business leaders who say they will go fully operational when it is safe for their employees

38% | Percentage of surveyed business leaders who say they will go fully operational when it is safe for their customers

Early on, businesses were worried productivity and employee communication would suffer once they moved to a remote working environment. However, many are now giving remote work glowing reviews.

37% | Percentage of company leaders surveyed who increased remote access.

The work environment in the COVID-19 era hasn’t been easy on working families.

57% | Percentage of surveyed employers who report their employees seem stressed due to additional family or caregiving responsibilities

44% | Percentage of surveyed employers who say employee morale is declining due to the isolation many workers feel in their home office environment.

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