How 2 HR Leaders Are Adapting Benefits for a Remote Workforce

September 15, 2020

The shift to remote work has necessitated overhauls in communication, workflows and business plans, but it’s also brought a need for companies to rethink how they’re supporting their employees. 

Tobie Tyler, the benefits manager for Trupanion, stressed that it’s not enough to simply offer mental and physical health benefits. Now, companies must spend extra energy to ensure every employee understands what resources are available to them and how to quickly access them. That’s why she said Trupanion has rolled out an app and planned webinars so employees can actually use their benefits when they need them. 

At LiquidPlanner, Director of Human Resources Taja Hanley has similar priorities. The company regularly reaches out to employees to make sure they’re enjoying their paid time off, taking breaks during the day and recharging. To her, reminding employees of their benefits can help the team better balance their work and home lives, which is especially important to those who are also juggling childcare.

To learn more about how companies are retooling what support looks like in an era of remote work, Built In Seattle spoke to Hanley and Tyler. They shared how they’ve successfully kept their companies moving forward.

 

Tobie Tyler
Trupanion

How have you adapted the perks and benefits you offer employees since transitioning to remote work? 

One of the challenges we faced initially was making sure that team members have easier ways to access their benefits information, so we introduced an app where they can access their information without having to be on our network. There are plenty of emails going out, so we sent out a postcard in partnership with our medical plan that summarizes all of the mental and behavioral health resources available to team members virtually. 

Following the postcard, we are hosting a webinar with our medical provider to make sure that team members understand those resources, how to engage with them and who to contact to get started. Benefits are a very personal thing, so one of my top priorities is to lessen stress or anxiety or confusion around them.

We strategized with other partnerships like Rocket Lawyer. They’ve hosted a few well-received webinars for first-time homebuyers and estate planning. It can be an uncomfortable topic, but it is relevant and important to bring to our team members. Teladoc has added another layer of resource to use to seek care without putting our team members at risk.
 

Employee feedback is very important and a guiding principle for our benefits philosophy.”


How is your company supporting mental health and well-being right now?

Mental health and well-being has always been very important at Trupanion, as is making sure that team members have the support that they need on a regular basis. Earlier this year, we had an opportunity to do trial memberships with companies like Headspace and Calm. A couple of months into the trials we asked our team members to complete a mental health resource survey to better understand which programs were resonating with them and which weren’t. 

As part of our work from home environment, we want to make sure that mental health information is available to everybody at our fingertips, so we centralized it into one spot to make it easier to find. 

We’re also starting virtual yoga in September and as part of that partnership, team members will also have access to on-demand meditation sessions.

 

What role did employee feedback play in shaping these new perks and benefits?

Employee feedback is very important and a guiding principle for our benefits philosophy. Prior to going remote, we had yoga in the office. While working remotely, that’s been something that has come up several times by team members, so we found a virtual resource. 

We’re also doing some focus groups with parents to better understand the challenges they are facing, share ideas from other parents and talk about how Trupanion can help make their lives easier in these crazy times.

 

LiquidPlanner
liquidplanner

How have you adapted the perks and benefits you offer employees since transitioning to remote work? 

All of the happy hours, trivia, scavenger hunts and team games we would usually do in the office together we still do, just as virtual meetups. 

We have also put together and delivered two different sets of care packages, each with a specific theme. Our care packages include treats, goodies and swag for our employees and their families — pets and kids, too!

We are encouraging our team members to use their paid time off. Our company took the week of the Fourth of July as a paid company holiday to help our team members to take time away. Some team members have taken extended vacations and able to work remotely. Others have small children and families at home, so we have acknowledged that and support our team members to be flexible with their work hours if needed.

 

How is your company supporting mental health and well-being right now?

We have had a big focus on emphasizing interaction and connection. We have utilized Slack more than ever, as well as our own project management tool. We have offered yoga and stretching sessions virtually as well as numerous walking, running and biking challenges. 

We have also set up weekly companywide meetings as well as monthly virtual happy hours. Just seeing the faces of our teammates has made a big difference and allows us all to lift each other up.

We’ve encouraged managers and others to have walking meetings, weekly check-ins and intentional conversations about stress levels and how we can support each team member. We’ve also talked with managers about having them help their teams in setting times throughout the day to take a break, reset and regroup. 
 

We have had a big focus on emphasizing interaction and connection.”


What role did employee feedback play in shaping these new perks and benefits?

Surveys and feedback from our teams have helped us shape and adapt or perks and employee benefits in ways that are meaningful to them. It’s been really great to hear from the team because it’s allowed us to be intentional in the changes and additions we have made.

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