March 22, 2022
Recent Events in Ukraine and Surrounding Countries
The recent events in Ukraine and surrounding countries have transformed benefits professionals into crisis response actors in an instant. According to a poll, nearly 40% of participating employers have employees in Ukraine, while 80% have employees in Ukraine and/or surrounding countries, including Russia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Belarus.
- Several employers with employees in the region, many of whom are Ukrainian nationals who may be located elsewhere, have been working with country managers to offer critical incident sessions through its Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs are also providing support through webinars, counseling in the Ukrainian language, legal support and more. However, some companies have experienced complications paying for local providers as bank access has been limited.
- Some employers have seen a number of individuals who are Ukrainian nationals but located in border countries who are interested in returning to Ukraine, either to assist with the fight or to assist relatives still living there. There are some concerns about the potential impact to employment status, benefits and life insurance. Per the advice of their brokers, these employers are looking at potential war exclusions for life insurance policies.
- One company whose Ukrainian offices are located in Kyiv is mainly focused on assisting evacuating employees. The company has worked to secure new locations and provide financial assistance for hotel and transportation expenses.
- Several companies have also applied salary advances to employees in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus and are anticipating significant financial impacts for employees in the region, as inflation is expected to grow.
Global Solutions and Vendor Platforms
Global rewards and recognition platform
Employers participating in the discussion are focused on the best ways to recognize employees for achievements, peer recognition and service anniversaries to provide a more enhanced employee experience and supportive culture.
- One company has been using an external vendor’s recognition tool but with the company’s internal wellness program branding. The platform, Workhuman, also makes a recommendation for the value of the awards based on information provided, including the contribution, time and effort.
Global benefits administration platform
Employers in the conversation also spoke about which external partners they use for administering global benefits. Vendors highlighted included:
- The Benefits Solution (TBS)
Financial well-being continues to be a growing area of focus for employers as they develop and expand their employee well-being offerings around the world.
- Several companies utilize their EAP’s financial well-being tools, including financial coaching and educational articles.
- One employer on the line is currently in an RFP process to find a new global financial well-being vendor but is finding that it’s difficult to compare each provider, as they are not ”apples to apples;’ each vendor provides its own unique solution for financial well-being, with some focused on education through phone lines and virtual solutions, while others offer actual direct financial advice.
- Several employers noted that they prefer whichever vendor they use to be more focused on general financial education, as they do not want to directly influence how their employees spend or invest their own money.
- Other companies are utilizing their retirement vendors’ financial education tools to bolster their financial well-being offerings.
- Some employers have offered financial well-being webinars through their EAP, often focusing on niche subjects like ”finances and women” or ”saving for retirement”.
For companies using wide-reaching global platforms for well-being or those who have well-being integrated into medical plans, it is a priority to ensure that U.S. data is separated from out of U.S.(OUS) data in aggregate reporting.
- Several companies participating in the conversation use Virgin Pulse on a global scale.
- Due to concerns with data privacy and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR,) in EU countries, one company did not give permission to report medical data to Virgin Pulse. Instead, all reporting is at an aggregate level.
Employers also spoke about their companies’ EAP offerings; some are considering moving from traditional EAPs to more enhanced emotional well-being offerings.
- One company is piloting a new enhanced offering in the U.S. before considering expanding globally. This vendor is able to offer a larger network of counselors and allows employees to book appointments directly without needing to go through an assessment first.
- Employers considering a new global EAP or mental well-being vendor should review our 2021 resource, 6 Key Considerations When Assessing Global Capacity of Mental Health Providers.
- Vendors mentioned included:
- Spring Health
- Anthem (Beacon Health Options)
- One employer surveyed their employees several times over the course of the pandemic. In one survey, 80% of employees said that they would like to work a hybrid schedule in the future.
- Another company is adopting a remote-first and hybrid structure for the future, pending the needs of external clients.
Leave and Flexibility Policies Around the World
Remote and hybrid workers
Employers are in the process of defining and identifying their long-term strategy about remote workers in a post-pandemic world.
Leave in Canada
As a result of member-submitted questions, employers spoke about their parental leave policies in Canada. Of the participating companies, all are offering 16-18 weeks globally in addition to any local statutory requirements. This leave is parental and applies equally to parents regardless of gender. Often, parents who give birth can take additional recovery leave.