Employee benefits should reflect employee needs. But for global companies, and those with a mix of onsite and remote workers, fostering workplaces where everyone feels valued equally remains a challenge. Companies that get this balance right tend to have award-winning workplaces with greater engagement, higher revenue numbers, and better retention — especially among women. Those that don’t end up with internal cultures of haves and have-nots.

As hybrid work transitions from novelty to reality for businesses worldwide, HR teams are weighing whether their benefits stack up in the new world of work. Here are some tactical tips to ensure everyone has equal access to benefits.

1. Fill coverage gaps with telemedicine

Virtual care isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s your new baseline. Due to the pandemic, health plans, providers, and employees learned just how valuable telemedicine can be when access to care is restricted, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), usage increased 154% last year. Consumer surveys also show that nearly 90% of US workers plan to continue using telemedicine well after the pandemic ends.

Distributed or remote employees who live outside urban centers could especially benefit from telemedicine. Rural areas are generally underserved by health providers — for example, only half of US counties have a single OB-GYN. By eliminating travel and wait times, telemedicine also saves patients time and money, amounting to $120 of savings per visit, or $1,500 in cases where it diverts them away from emergency rooms.

Giving distributed workers equal access to care means making telemedicine part of your benefits offering. If you don’t offer it, check with your carrier to see what’s included in your current healthcare plan. A growing number of startups offer standalone telemedicine services tailored to specific needs like women’s and children’s healthcare, preconception care, surrogacy, and more. Others take a holistic approach to care going beyond the appointment, including informational quizzes, articles, virtual classes, and online patient communities.

2. Tailor your benefits messaging

Offering inclusive benefits is only part of the equation — HR teams need to encourage their usage and be available to answer distributed teams’ questions. Even workplaces with inclusive benefits on paper can fall short of utilization expectations when employees don’t know or understand how the offerings work.

Jagoda Wieczorek, Head of HR at ResumeLab, supports employees on three continents. From her experience, it isn’t enough to simply repackage benefits training sessions or ramp up your communication cadence. Internal messaging should feel relevant and reflect your audience — including their location, culture, and demographics. 

“Every one of our offices has basically the same benefits and perks, despite countries having different laws and norms. We want the benefits to be even across the board...But it’s still our goal to give great training that's relevant to each location,” Wieczorek said. In offices with working parents, HR leaders might spend additional time discussing childcare, pediatrics support, and flexibility. Remote employees may want to hear more about virtual offerings, including telemedicine, wellness app subscriptions, and employee assistance programs (EAPs).

“Bottom line: We want our offices to feel connected and equally valued, because they are. Your approach to communication should be appropriate for the needs of those employees,” she said, adding that these training sessions may be just as important as the benefits themselves.

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3. Adopt a digital-first approach 

After working remotely for over a year, some companies are taking a “digital-first” approach to craft their benefits package. Rather than secure in-person offerings and remote alternatives (which might be viewed as “second-best”), HR leaders shared that they were looking for benefits built with everyone’s experience in mind. 

“Our response to everything has been to move our benefits to digital,” said Mark Blackwood, HR Manager at Writing Universe. For example, rather than allocating budget to onsite mindfulness training and online programs (potentially compromising on the latter), companies can invest in higher-quality, self-directed virtual courses. Blackwood even adopted the same approach to HR focus areas outside of employee benefits, including learning and development — meaning company training sessions are now completely virtual moving forward.

“This allowed our team to secure any benefits or courses the company offers, and they can be accessed at any time and from any place. This is just a simple way a company can make hybrid team members feel just as valued,” Blackwood said.

4. Make benefits your DE&I differentiator

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) were already central focuses for your HR team and employee experience. They should be part of your benefits strategy, too. Ensuring equal benefits access starts with building a comprehensive package that applies to your entire workforce, not just those onsite. 

In the context of family benefits, that means looking beyond traditional offerings like parental leave and schedule flexibility. Employees may be on different tracks toward parenthood, and it’ll be your goal to meet them where they are, from preconception to postpartum care. In the largest-ever survey of working parents, Maven and Great Place to Work found that, among the highest-rated companies, 

  • 49% offer telemedicine for pregnant and postpartum families, 
  • 48% provide employees access to virtual return-to-work career coaching,
  • 52% offer support through breast milk shipping,
  • 81% provide reimbursement for fertility benefits.

But empathetic and inclusive care isn’t just about the benefits themselves — it’s about the employee experience as well. Global teams should have access to providers that speak their language and, by request, share other elements of diversity like sexual identity, religion, and ethnicity. Care matching may also lead to more engaged patient-doctor relationships and better health outcomes. You can read about Maven’s diverse provider network and approach to care matching here.

Benefits should benefit everyone. Companies that invest in their people by offering more holistic, inclusive benefits reap the rewards in productivity and set themselves apart as great places to work.

Let’s design a more inclusive and equitable workplace together. Maven believes in healthcare that takes your employees’ whole lives, identities, and experiences into account. Our virtual clinic for women and families has diverse, global providers covering more than 25 specialties and is committed to providing whole-person care.

To learn how we can help you build a holistic family benefits plan tailored to your distributed employees’ needs, get in touch with Maven today.

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