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COVID-19 Employer Survey

EHIR survey of Employers’ Next steps in COVID preparation

Now that the country is starting to consider the next phase of life after mandatory stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, leading edge employers are planning now for return to work according to a survey by EHIR. This COVID-19 Employer Survey was conducted between April 8 and April 12, 2020 with responses from 40 of EHIR’s member companies representing major leading-edge employers across a wide range of industries.

While state and federal authorities are developing return to work guidelines, interestingly, the majority of the respondents indicate that they will determine their return to work criteria based on the risk assessment or recommendations of their own crisis management team, medical director or other expert opinion rather than relying solely on state or federal officials’ decisions with two thirds (64%) relying on their own decisions and another 13% relying on a combination of their own and officials’ decisions. Sixty percent of the respondents believe the majority of their non-essential workforce will be back at physical worksites in June or July, which feels optimistic considering the continued challenges around testing.  

Once employers open work sites for employees to return to work, there is a mixed response as to how they will manage testing for previously infected employees as well as avoidance of infection in the workplace.  However, self-reporting of symptoms and thermal screening at worksite entry are the two approaches most commonly cited that will be implemented once worksites are reopened with over half (58%) indicating usage. And employers are more likely than not to provide personal protective equipment to their employees upon return to work.  Much work will be needed in the next couple of months around return to work programming, testing logistics, contact tracing, and making sure workers feel comfortable returning to work.

Telehealth is on the rise, and anecdotally, EHIR members report very strong usage of telehealth solutions.  Almost all (92%) indicate that they have waived cost share for certain telehealth services and are fairly evenly split between whether its been waived only for COVID 19 concerns or for all conditions. 

Having mentally healthy employees has been an important strategic effort for most EHIR members for a number of years.  However, sixty percent say they are not satisfied with their company’s focus on employee emotional and mental health during this crisis with their top two concerns being general personal anxiety and parents balancing work from home and caregiving.  This is supported by their response that mental health, convenient care and caregiving are the top 3 categories of demand where employers expect to see a growing need.

For the year, sixty percent of respondents report that they expect pressure on their health care budget, with half of those saying that the pressure is COVID-19 related. “This pandemic and resulting recession has many entrepreneurs nervous that the employer and health plan market might pause or dry up. The news is mixed but overall positive,” says Michael Laquere, CEO of EHIR. In this environment, yet, 35% of these leading employers expect to increase spending on innovative services to improve health & well-being which can provide near term ROI.  Another 20% expect no change in spending and only 25% said they would delay investments.   None of the respondents said that they are planning to decrease spending on innovative services.  Employers understand that their employees need additional support to manage through this crisis while the increased cost pressure may force employers to pay much closer attention to near term ROI.

“We are definitely going to face a tough next 6-12 months but one fact remains, employers will still have employees that they care about and are willing to invest in to support their overall health, well-being and productivity,” says Sally Welborn, former Senior Vice President Global Benefits, Walmart.

About EHIR:

The Employer Health Innovation Roundtable (EHIR) is a private and independent network of the largest and most progressive employers collectively representing approximately 10M employees with a shared mission to accelerate the adoption of innovation for the sake of improving employee health, wellness and productivity.  Members convene throughout the year to share learnings and collectively review and evaluate new solutions with an intimate group of like-minded peers through a streamlined and efficient process.
The survey was developed by EHIR’s team of Corporate Medical Directors, who, together, make up CMO OnDemand, an advisory firm offering employers fractional access to clinical expertise to improve health and well-being. 
EHIR is an action-oriented, private group built by employers for employers.  It grew out of a need by employers for objective support in identifying and assessing the most promising emerging solutions and their impact on employee health. EHIR has been providing a streamlined innovation process and valuable insights to leading employers for the last 6 years through a collaborative model. The members find tremendous value in having an objective innovation filter and resource to help sift through the noise as well as in the opportunity to share learnings and best practices with an intimate group of highly engaged peers. 

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