Covering yourself during COVID - the Reward and Employee Benefits (REBA) webinar

On Friday 24th April, YuLife was proud to partner with REBA in hosting a webinar that discussed how the current climate is shifting the needs of employees and making businesses rethink their benefits and rewards strategy.

To kick off the event, we were introduced to our expert panel: Andrew Baillie, Reward Director for Europe and Africa at Diageo; Lorna MacMillan, the Global Head of Benefits at A.P. Moller-Maersk; Karen Gaynor, Global Head of Benefits and Regional Compensation and Benefits Lead at Siemens; Deborah Frost, Chief Executive of Personal Group, and YuLife’s own Chief Insurance Officer and co-founder, Jaco Oosthuizen.

Each panellist shared an in-depth look at how their companies are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as answering attendee questions around anything from online wills and mental health to company communication.

“Insurance has not always been an industry known for being nimble and adaptable, but we are seeing some companies at the forefront of change”

With the pandemic putting company policies under the microscope, employers are starting to realise that adaptability in providers and core benefits with an immediate impact are key for employee wellbeing. The webinar sent a poll to attendees asking whether they had reviewed their policies in light of recent developments, and over half said that they comprehensively reviewed it, had started to or were planning to soon.

Andrew Baillie said that “it’s important to evaluate what you really need to support your staff in these times, and the minimum standard to be held business-wide. Life insurance, including bereavement leave, is a critical benefit right now. Employers need to work with their providers to understand the full scope of what they offer, from EAP to Virtual GP access.”

Karen Gaynor said that, at Siemens, the scale of the company means that it is decentralised in its HR processes, so “we are encouraging all HR teams to work with their providers to understand the full value of their policies.” Lorna MacMillan found that “COVID is shining a new spotlight on the programmes and plans that we have in place, challenging us to make sure that what we do is fit for purpose.”

“Where death has become so topical, so has maintaining good health and living well through digital means.”

With 36% of surveyed professionals citing mental health as the key challenge for them during this time, companies are beginning to look at other benefits and community-building changes that will support employees' mental and physical welfare. REBA research found that 73% of employers now make provisions for mental health whilst remote working.

Lorna highlighted the need to “look more holistically than just the physical aspect of health, looking across all of the pillars of wellbeing i.e. physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing and utilise appropriate suppliers. Rather than only focusing on medical and life insurance plans, we’re focusing on wellness and mental health too.”

Jaco shared that “YuLife has found a 300% increase in the use of both our virtual GP and free will service. There's also been a 40% increase in people downloading apps to exercise with at home, as well as a surge in users participating in mindfulness sessions.”

There are now over 410,000 employees using the personal group app, Deborah shared. “We have seen a huge increase in the utilisation of digital mental health services from men. This could be due to the discretion that digital affords.”

“We're investing quite a lot of time and effort on raising visibility about services”

A key theme that emerged throughout the webinar was that of communication both to and amongst employees of the benefits available to them. In the same research,  REBA saw that 71% of surveyed employers now offer social wellbeing guidance to ensure colleagues are keeping in contact during COVID-19.

Andrew shared how Diageo is keeping their employees in the loop: “we’re hosting webinars and ensuring that line managers are aware of services so that they can communicate these directly to teams. Raising awareness is critical because otherwise, we might see an increase in absence later on. We are dedicating a huge amount of time and resource to create easily accessible materials for employees.”

Lorna warned that employers need to “be aware that people are being bombarded with materials from different places. Signposting where you can get essential information is important.”

“It's really important that we are not just focusing on death. You only die once, but you live every day.”

Jaco called attention to some silver linings to the current landscape in terms of both the environment and the time for introspection and re-evaluation of priorities: “There are also a lot of positive things happening at the moment. People in Delhi can see the Himalayas for the first time and in Venice, the pollution levels have dropped so dramatically that jellyfish can be seen swimming in the crystal clear canals.

YuLife is really about how we can help you be the best you can be, and give you value and benefits while you're alive - not just when you die.”

With over 200 attendees across HR industries, many came away from the event with a lot of actionable ideas on re-evaluating priorities and implementing new benefits in their own insurance plans. If you missed the event, you can access the recording here.

If you’d like to learn more about life insurance that inspires living, click here to speak to one of our experts.

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Sophie Hibbert

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