The COVID-19 pandemic tested employers and employees alike, which affected the rewards and benefits organizations offered their employees in a tumultuous 2020.
Highlighting these trends, WorldatWork’s “2020 Inventory of Total Rewards Programs & Practices” survey found there were significant increases in employer-offered telemedicine, paid and unpaid caregiver leave, tuition discounts and hazard pay from 2019.
Given the need to avoid visiting hospitals or medical clinics during the pandemic, nearly all (94%) of the 812 employers surveyed provided their employees access to telemedicine, which was up from 88% last year.
“Not surprisingly, employer-offered telemedicine services saw an increase in use in 2020,” said Steve Boddy, content director, total rewards, at WorldatWork. “The impact of COVID-19, and employees’ actual and perceived safety and comfort visiting their health care professionals, likely played a big part in this increase.”
Barely trailing telemedicine’s popularity this year was telework, as 80% of employers provided their employees with needed flexible work arrangements, which was up from 73% in 2019. To assist with the remote work, 27% of employers said they offer internet service, 49% offered office supplies, and 23% offered office furniture to remote employees.
More employers also provided services for their working parents, as 56% provided unpaid, job-protected time off to care for or bond with a new child and 53% provided unpaid caregiver leave, both increases from 2019.
Additionally, paid caregiver leave increased from 20% last year to 27% in 2020 and hazard pay increased from 15% to 23%. More employers (22%) also provided cost-of-living adjustments to their employees compared to 2019 (16%). Organizations also assisted with the unusual circumstances by providing seminars, webinars or literature to promote well-being (85%) as well as stress-reduction programs and offerings such as yoga, massage and meditation (82%).
“Organizations had to quickly pivot and get creative when offering total rewards programs as a result of COVID-19,” Boddy said. “The results of the survey support these findings as programs such as leave offerings, well-being programs, and remote work all significantly rose year over year.”
While organizations did well to provide extra benefits to their employees during difficult times, offerings such as market-based pay adjustments, bonuses and internships were negatively affected in 2020. Just 69% of employers provided market-based pay adjustment, down from 80% last year, and performance-based pay increases fell from 93% to 88%. Internships fell from 84% to 77%.
And, illuminating a trend from social justice movements in the summer, the number of reported diversity and inclusion initiatives rose from 65% in 2019 to 76% in 2020 and 80% of employers stated that employees are eligible for pay equity adjustments.
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.