- Employers are expanding efforts to keep employees healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Willis Towers Watson survey results released April 10.
- Most (86%) of the surveyed employers said they are promoting the use of telemedicine, nurse lines or virtual healthcare visits. Fifty-eight percent are increasing access to telebehavioral health, with an additional 14% planning to do so. More than two-fifths (41%) of those surveyed said they will waive out-of-pocket treatment costs for employees who contract the virus.
- Given the nature of novel coronavirus transmission, some employers also are keeping employees out of the workplace entirely. Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported that more than 75% of their workforce can now work remotely, up from just 14% pre-pandemic. Nearly all (97%) of the respondents with employees working on site said they promote social distancing and have increased cleaning and disinfection.
In addition to keeping workers home and boosting virtual wellness options, many employers are relaxing supply limitations for certain drugs, providing increased flexibility to care for sick family members and planning anti-stigma campaigns to combat virus-related discrimination, according to the Willis Towers Watson research.
The results also show that employers view mental health as an important aspect of employee wellness during this time. Many are striving for increased transparency and heightened communications to help keep employees feeling informed about work. Practical information about how to work remotely (including IT-related instruction) is also essential to help reduce feelings of disruption, experts previously told HR Dive.
But when it comes to therapy, that responsibility can't fall to HR, William Kassler, chief medical officer of government health and human services at IBM Watson Health, said in a previous interview. "HR is good at what HR does, but most HR folks don't have a therapeutic background; they're not counselors," he said. "But what HR can do is help companies develop the policies and practices in place, get the resources and broker the interaction between people who deliver therapy."