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3 essential employee benefits companies need to support workers during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond

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  • Although many US employers have said they plan to boost mental health and other benefits in light of the coronavirus pandemic, few employees actually expect their companies to step up to the plate. 
  • A study from the business advisory firm, Brunswick shows one in four US workers, or about 38%, expect their companies to improve mental health support in a post-pandemic workplace. 
  • Expanding health benefits such as caregiving support, mental health benefits, and sick leave for employees can help minimize stress. 
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Despite a number of employers boosting mental health and other benefits for employees, just 38% of workers expect their company to actually move forward and add those perks.
In an exclusive research partnership with Business Insider, Brunswick, a strategic advisory firm focused on critical issues found only one in four US workers (about 38%) expect better mental health support post pandemic. That same research found that just 28% of workers surveyed expect expanded healthcare benefits, and 13% expect employer-provided childcare options.
Some employers have taken steps to boost mental health benefits and other offerings like sick leave, but more work may need to be done.
There are specific employee benefits you can invest in to help workers during the pandemic — from expanding funds for caregivers, offering free counseling to employees and their families, and increasing paid sick leave. Here are three key benefits employees want to help them cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Caregiver support 

Employees who are working from home amid the pandemic have a lot on their plate. Not only do they have work obligations, but they may be taking care of their parents, child, or other more vulnerable loved ones.
Providing funds and support for caregiving may help lessen work-related stress. Employers can either provide a stipend to help pay for caregiving services, or a tool that provides helpful resources for caregivers.
For example, the professional-services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers added a $2,200 emergency childcare-support fund for its employees, Business Insider previously reported. Employees are encouraged to use the money to balance work and family needs, and $1,000 of it can also be applied to elder-care reimbursement, the company told Business Insider.

Sick leave benefits 

Sick leave is an important benefit that can give employees the time off work they need to recover. But, not many companies offer this benefit. Four in 10 hourly workers don't have access to paid sick leave, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The novel coronavirus, however, is forcing companies to change that.
More than 20 retailers across the country, including Walmart and Starbucks are expanding sick leave, Business Insider previously reported. Starbucks announced in March that it would offer "catastrophe pay" for up to 14 days to employees who come in contact with the coronavirus.
If the employee is still unable to return to work, the "catastrophe pay" can be extended for up to 26 weeks, wrote Rossann Williams, executive vice president of Starbucks, in a letter. Doordash has a similar policy: 14 days of paid sick leave to any drivers who are diagnosed with the coronavirus or who are subject to quarantine.

Mental health benefits 

The pandemic has taken a toll on employee mental health. As a result, employers should think of creative ways to provide mental health benefits to their workers. This could include establishing an employee assistance program, which assists workers in solving personal problems, offering health insurance, and allowing workers to have a flexible schedule that accommodates their changing needs.
Retailer Target is offering free online mental health support for employees. Business Insider reported the company is using Daylight, an app designed to help users navigate stress and worry, and Sleepio, an app that provides self-help tools to improve sleep.
SoFi, a loan refinancing and personal finance company, is providing in-network therapy to employees. SoFi offers workers and three dependents over the age of 18 access to a mental health platform called Modern Health. Modern Health provides employees up to six in-person or video therapy sessions and a range of digital resources like classes on meditation.
SEE ALSO: 8 ways US workers expect their offices to change for the better after the lockdowns end
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