The stress and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic are real—and employers and employees nationwide are struggling. Sweeping shelter-in-place and lockdown orders have created new work-life balance difficulties, among other problems. Professional and personal upheaval is causing fear, panic and isolation. And these pressures are affecting employee well-being at all levels, from entry level to leadership.

Challenges to employee well-being

Even before the crisis hit, employers across industries were beginning to recognize the importance of employee well-being. Today’s “always-on” culture has blurred lines between work and home, diminishing employees’ ability to manage stress. It’s widely recognized that emotional stress, mental health difficulties and burnout are serious concerns for both employers and employees. In fact, well before the pandemic, a Gallup study found that 2/3 of employees report suffering from burnout.[1] According to Forbes,[2] 95% of HR leaders say burnout sabotages retention.

The crisis atmosphere only heightens these devastating forces. Employers can and should focus on supporting employee well-being now–it’s essential to enduring this period of the pandemic and to generating the recovery to come.

How to support employee well-being in coping

Higher levels of stress and increased feelings of isolation can mean more employees are struggling with depression, anxiety and addiction. Old routines are gone, as well as key resources like childcare.

Many employees need additional support under these conditions. Access to mental health care and well-being sessions, as well as coverage for prescriptions and alternative medicine, can help. Many primary health plans, however, do not offer coverage for these mental health and employee well-being needs. This means there is a gap just when employees need this coverage the most.

Supplemental health insurance plans that can boost this coverage, offer a solution. Here are three ways that innovative employer-paid supplemental benefits can help employers support employee well-being during and after this unprecedented time.

#1: Support mental health and reduce workplace absenteeism

Whether temporary or ongoing, poor mental health can drastically affect employees’ performance, contributing to higher levels of absenteeism and presenteeism. Absenteeism in the workplace is productivity lost when employees aren’t at work (whether that’s in the office or remotely). Presenteeism refers to reduced productivity while employees are actually working, often because they are distracted or under duress.

Both absenteeism and presenteeism cost employers millions annually. In fact, the American Psychological Association estimates that 550 million workdays are lost each year because of stress on the job.[3] Factor in pandemic-related stress, and this number is certain to be higher.

Supporting mental health through access to virtual behavioral therapy and group well-being sessions can be a powerful boost when employees need it most. During this time, it can help to reduce absenteeism in the workplace and help employees remain focused and productive while working remotely.

#2: Counter the effects of burnout

The threat of burnout was real before the pandemic, and the current situation has only ramped it up. Harvard Business School puts it simply: “Our work can literally make us sick.” Burnout can account for nearly 10% of national spending on health care—and 120,000 deaths per year.[4] And that’s under pre-pandemic circumstances, not now.

Providing relief from burnout can take many forms. Among them can be behavioral therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and other wellness treatments. Offering such coverage can go a long way to helping employees feel less burnout on the job.

#3: Create flexibility during the unknown

This stage of the pandemic will end—at some point—and employers and employees will emerge to a new normal. Business operations must continue. The time to offer help with coping is now– to ensure that employees can bring renewed focus to the recovery effort.

Employer-paid supplemental insurance can offer much-needed flexibility right now. Plans can be put in place for select classes of employees on the first of any month all year long.

Introducing WellPak with Guide

In response to the current situation, ArmadaCare has introduced WellPak with Guide, designed to help employees at all levels cope during these trying times and beyond. It’s a fully insured, employer-paid hospital indemnity plan with outpatient benefits to support employee well-being by addressing employee mental health, stress management and the effects of burnout. WellPak with Guide includes:

  • Coverage for prescriptions, massage therapy, acupuncture and more
  • A fully covered embedded Guide program for virtual behavioral health and well-being sessions

The Guide portion of the plan is delivered in partnership with BHS, which has been providing successful behavioral health services for employees since 1983.

Find out more about WellPak with Guide here.


[1] Gallup

[2] Forbes

[3] American Psychological Association

[4] Harvard Business School