Three lessons from COVID-19 for better business and benefits

June 3, 2020
Zack Vollstedt

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Although Coronavirus is far from over, we are seeing businesses open and lockdown measures relax. With that in mind, it’s important for us all to reflect on the last several months and learn from what’s worked well and what hasn’t. Here are three lessons that will be imperative  to keep in mind as we all move forward:

Cost savings plans.

The Coronavirus not only brought sickness and quarantine into the lives of millions all over the world, but it also brought on several changes to the job market. Most notably, a lot of people were laid off or furloughed because of the drop in revenue to businesses. Letting go of employees should be any business’ last resort because people are always any employer’s number one asset. Of course, different industries will have varying severities; for example, the hospitality industry was impacted much harder than others. Because of that, sometimes the only option is to lay off or furlough employees, but if possible it should be avoided. Moving forward, should the need arise, businesses can cut costs by implementing pay cuts within salaries of higher executive members, looking into potential benefit cuts, decreasing hours, looking into government funding, or offering unpaid leave. To find a solution, it’s important to crowdsource with your team and communicate. A pandemic is unique, but keeping trust and morale high is important.  

Alternate health insurance benefits.

Most people are insured through their employer, so what do you do when you’re laid off? What options for health care do people have if they don’t have employer-based coverage? When it comes to furloughs, some employers choose to continue offering insurance coverage to their employees. For recently laid-off employees, COBRA can be elected which allows continued coverage with certain employer plans, but the employee must pay the entire premium. To help burden the cost of COBRA or high deductible plans, people can use a health savings account (HSA) to contain out-of-pocket costs. Another alternative is to look into healthcare sharing communities to provide a way for businesses and individuals to take control of their medical expenses and enjoy the support of a like-minded community. The healthcare marketplace is also a great resource to find affordable healthcare coverage. The simple online process can qualify individuals for low-cost plans, free plans, or Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP.)

Digital tools and work from home policies.

A pandemic is a unique situation, and there are some things you simply can’t plan for, but if there's one thing we should all take away from this it's to be as prepared as possible for anything. For businesses, you have to have a solid business continuity plan in place for all kinds of emergencies, pandemic or otherwise. If a tornado destroyed your building, could you still operate? Are you effectively using digital tools? So many restaurants lost out on revenue because they weren’t integrated with food delivery apps such as DoorDash and UberEats. Other businesses that never allowed remote work are now seeing that they can effectively run their business while letting people work from home. Going forward, it will be important for all businesses to create continuity plans for a variety of emergencies. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

In moments of immense change and crisis, the way to prevail is to stay calm, collaborate with others, and find solutions that keep people and businesses afloat. By following the tips in this blog and other solutions that make sense for individuals, we will all be better prepared for what the future might hold.

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