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Learning from lockdown: Better benefits for your employees

May 28, 2021 / Duncan Fisher

It’s hard to see any upside from a pandemic. The last couple of years have been a rough haul for everyone, with hardships at home, tragedy for some families, and real difficulty for most everyone in getting to work and paying the bills.

But there is a lot of talk in the business press, and it’s picking up steam lately, about how we may have learned some overdue lessons concerning the reasonableness of the way we go to work, and more broadly, about the humanity behind the way we treat each other there.

People haven’t been able to come to the workplace physically the way they used to for quite a while. Businesses have had time to adjust. The adjustment was frantic at first, and a little grudging. It was just there to keep meetings happening and orders filled. Then there were fewer reservations about it, as alternative arrangements turned out to work rather well. Now employers really like a lot of the new arrangements, and want to keep them. They simply serve better than many of the old ways did.

Of course, there will be board-room boffins who advocate for this new normal (and in fact, always did) because they’re nice people, and they care about their employees. Thankfully, people like this do exist. Work culture welcomes the concept of niceness, too. The idea of the indulgent manager is a Thing. Memes about it are proliferating. (Search: ‘I don’t care whether you come into the office at 8 am …,’ for example, and see.)

But unanimous in every corner office, or corner home office, is that flexibility and resourcefulness, and even forbearance, is actually good business in the end. It simply makes fiscal sense to be creative, and pretty tolerant, in how we trade talent for wages.

This also extends to non-wage benefits, and in these as well, businesses are clearly adjusting. Gone, or going, are office-based perks like fruit bowls, company cars, and on-site gyms. They weren't bad things. They're just no longer as appropriate.

In their place? Dependent care allowances are one, and not surprisingly, they're popular. Others include tailored health programs, wellbeing checks, nutrition advice, and video trips to the doctor. Most of these (and fruit bowls) can be offered, happily, on digital platforms, available at home, right on demand. They’re easy to put in place, and they really matter to people in the new workforce.

And they should be put in place, particularly when it comes to seeing the doctor. Worried people at home need to know they can get help quickly, that there’s no need to find care for the kids, that they won’t pick up any infections from the clinic, and, subliminally, that the people who employ them agree that they need these things.

That’s where we come in, at Snapmed. We offer dermatology consultations, by photo or video, whichever people like, with full prescribing powers, and no waiting times. Being digital means we can do it cost-efficiently, too. That's our contribution to the new way of working.

If the patients we see are your employees, they’ll thank you for giving them prompt access to good medicine. If we’re your company's dermatology service, we’ll have helped keep your people healthy, and happy, and able to come to work just the way they (and you) want.

And for benefits consultants, brokers and insurance providers, your customers will look to you for advice, guidance and inspiration.

From a flint-eyed cost-containment standpoint, in other words, offering new services like these to your employees is very good business. From a human standpoint, it’s also a better way to live. It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to show us this. There’s now no doubt, in any case, that in caring for employees in the post-lockdown world, we have learned a few good lessons, and this is to everyone’s benefit.

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