Many companies have chosen or are under orders to be remote. Employees have new levels of “life-happening” stressors that are also creating new challenges for HR and people teams. Particularly, how we keep our cultures thriving and connected while providing benefits that help our employees in this new normal.
It’s time to reboot our reimbursement and allowances programs to be reflective of the needs of our employees right now (and globally). That’s why we’re working closely with our clients and supporting them to adjust reimbursement programs to be relevant in this new normal. Here’s what we’re doing to support our employees, clients, and companies who are trying to stay afloat.
Employees are our greatest assets
Many companies have introduced pay cuts and furloughs. However, they are still offering non-traditional reimbursement benefits for things like yoga and fitness. While providing reimbursements for gym memberships was the norm, now that gyms are closed, we need to explore new options that go beyond fitness.
Let’s start with flexible reimbursements
The workday is tough to fit in a typical 9-5 window today. People now are also teachers, have more than one person working at home or are working in multi-generational households, and in need of competing spaces to work and play. Then there is internet bandwidth needed to support them as well as ergonomic equipment to support their jobs. Some people have dedicated offices in their homes, and others live in studio apartments. In a global workforce, people are distributed everywhere. That means we not only need a flexible reimbursements program, we need one that operates in all currencies (for those with a global presence).
This is where flexibility for employees is vital.
Consider how your reimbursement options can positively take some of the considerable stress off employees. “I’m consulting with a lot of HR leaders right now, and their chief concern? Employee stress, mental health, and wellbeing,” said Nancy Vitale, Founder Partners for Wellbeing and former CHRO for Genentech. “Businesses are taking a hit, but so are their people and cultures. Without rebooting how we support our employees to help them be at their best, we begin to lose productivity and business continuity. It’s mission-critical.”
Total wellbeing as a secondary benefit has never been more critical in meeting this moment
Here are some ways that Espresa can support you in expanding traditional reimbursement options to help take some of the stress off employees:
- Home office setup. Consider the unique challenges that employees are experiencing and extend reimbursements to include the tools they need to be successful with an emphasis on ergonomics. In the office, we can control that. The last thing we need is repetitive stress injuries. If you don’t already have a class or certification process on ergonomics, we’ve got a plan for you and your employees.
- Educational platform and distance learning. People and families need support. Consider an allowance or reimbursements wherever your people need it. Many employees are taking up new hobbies, like learning how to play an instrument, virtual classes on gardening, and new languages. Plus, employees are taking time to upskill to enhance and improve the work they do.
- Homeschooling support. Consider adding reimbursement for tutors, online classes, and other engaging activities for your employees’ children. If children are better-taken care of during this unprecedented time, employees will be more relaxed and engaged with their work activity.
- Meal delivery subsidy. Ordering groceries, food, and fresh food boxes have become part of the new normal. If you were subsidizing meals in the office through cafes and healthy snacks, for example, consider an allowance for grocery and meal delivery with services like Instacart, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, DoorDash, and Grubhub. If paying for groceries is outside your budget, perhaps offer to pay for delivery service charges.
- Wellbeing subscriptions. We know how important moving our bodies are in support of our physical health. Without access to gyms and for some, no safe place to move outside, consider reimbursements and allowances for recorded and live-stream applications. Also subsidizing equipment that supports live stream has become very popular with our employees.
- Mindfulness and mental health support. I’m happy to say that the new light being shined on mental health during this time is removing the unnecessary stigmas associated with it. People who have never experienced depression or other anxieties are being hit hard. In addition to having HR reach out compassionately to employees who are struggling, it’s essential to offer employees ways to access help on their own. Consider offering reimbursements on virtual mental health support like TalkSpace, and mindfulness apps like Headspace, Calm, and Sleepio.
- Global reimbursements. Espresa supports all currencies globally for reimbursements, even monetary rewards.
We’re doing our part to help our employees, clients, partners, and companies out there in need. “We have adopted these new reimbursement guidelines for our own company,” discussed Espresa CEO, Alex Shubat. “Our Espresa Free Rangers team is now fully remote and are taking advantage of these new benefits.”
Additionally, Espresa is offering free live virtual yoga, HIIT, and Zumba classes twice per week, app-based employee engagement challenges, and our communities’ platform to keep your culture intact and thriving.