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Insider News: Employer strategies for the future of work during COVID-19

Posted by AllWays Health Partners blog team on July 30, 2020

As businesses across the country reopen and some employees begin to return to work, others are settling in for a more long-term remote arrangement. For the companies going remote, this means rethinking benefits strategies and new policies. For those returning to the office, a solid plan for employee safety and well-being is critical. We're looking at both sides of this situation, along with some of the lessons health systems have learned from COVID-19.


Employers are reconsidering workplace benefits for newly remote workers from Fast Company

The shift to remote work has pushed many employers to rethink the perks and benefits they are offering to employees. Here are some examples of ways companies are adapting:

  • Offering benefits designed to support employee well-being in these new circumstances, like mental health resources, greater flexibility, and trust.
  • Eliminating benefits that don't fit new strategic directions.
  • Replacing snacks and other perks associated with being in the office with remote alternatives, like snack box deliveries and online fitness classes.
  • Focusing more on families and other household members, with virtual summer camp programs and online tools.

Returning to the worksite: Transition strategies and approaches from Optum

A recent survey from Optum asked large employers across the country about their return-to-worksite strategies. Findings include:

  • Two thirds of employers are still in the midst of transitioning back to the workspace. Only 16% have completed their transition.
  • Among employers who haven't started or are in the middle of transitioning, 89% plan to finish the process within the next 3 months.
  • Many organizations are collaborating with their health insurer, building management, and occupational health provider to develop their return strategies.
  • Key resources being used to support the transition back are: Employee communications, PPE and other safety equipment, behavioral health resources, readiness and transition status reporting, symptom-checker tools, on-site symptom checks, employee perspective surveys, and more.

When COVID forced change, health systems learned these lessons from Oliver Wyman

COVID-19 forced health systems to speed up decision making and organizational agility practically overnight. Many health system leaders remain hopeful their recently gained agility will be sustained and used as a competitive advantage to navigate challenging times ahead. Oliver Wyman considers four operating model lessons from the early crisis and how leaders might sustain and build on their newfound agility.

  1. The power of a unifying purpose was on full display. Departmental politicking subsided, and people at all levels worked together to find creative solutions to shared problems. When the pandemic eventually subsides, formalizing and diligently championing "thematic goals" or "wildly important goals" can serve as rallying cries to all to achieve a common objective;
  2. Risk tolerances changed almost overnight.Whether it was building partitions to segregate COVID patients, imparting COVID-specific workflows into the EMR, changing long-established care protocols or meeting other needs, changes were quickly implemented organization-wide. The urgency of the situation forced a higher level of acceptance that failure and iteration would be part of the process. This highlights the value of cultivating a culture and risk tolerance that favors learning and improvement without compromising safety, as well as a management bend to action and iteration over perfect planning;
  3. Management transparency combined with local delegation to foster accountability. Follow-through from ideation to implementation improved under heightened management focus, transparency and communications. Many organizations delegated and pushed decision-making authority to the front-lines, empowering facility and department-level leaders to make process changes in real-time. Enabling local teams with the right data and analysis, encouraging and supporting innovation within clear boundaries and defining and transparently reporting success metrics will all help ensure stronger ownership and better execution; and
  4. New clarity emerged about understanding what work is essential.The pandemic created a singular focus on a narrow scope of activities - preparing for and caring for a surge of infectious disease patients. Most other tasks and projects not directly contributing to this objective were put on hold. As leaders consider how to maintain agility for future success, one of the biggest risks is in allowing a broad return to past ways of working.

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Topics: Insider News, COVID-19

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