Many individuals and families need a lifeline right now. Employers looking for a way to help laid-off and furloughed employees should consider extending some key benefits to help see them through the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lifeline benefits” are those supports which help individuals and families to manage stressors—emotional, social, physical, and financial.

Employers who think ahead and act now can earn the goodwill and loyalty of employees who wish to return to their old jobs as things recover. Not only will these employers demonstrate authentic compassion in the face of tragedy, in a very practical sense, they stand to gain substantial savings by maintaining positive connections to the workers they’ve had to let go.

This is one of those times when it’s easy to show that what our hearts tell us to do is also the right thing to do for the business.

The potential cost of hiring and training new employees to replace those lost due to layoffs and furlough is staggering. Conservatively, that cost can be estimated on average to be $7,129 per employee:

$4,129 – cost to employers to fill an open position [SHRM]
+ $3,000 – cost to employers to onboard a new employee [LinkedIn]
$7,129 cost per employee

Organizations can stay connected and maintain a positive relationship by providing support in the areas where employees need it most right now, including; mental and physical health, resilience, and stress management. Specific supports targeted to financial and family stress are particularly timely, as employees are impacted by financial strains and the many stresses impacting their families.

At the same time, employees-in-place will benefit from the same programs as they face their own struggles with stress, impacts to their households when family members lose work, and the mental and physical health struggles that are endemic to the struggles people around the world are facing.

Lifeline benefits pay for themselves quickly. A million dollars spent on a lifeline benefit will be recouped fully when the organization rehires just 140 furloughed or laid off employees that they may have otherwise lost.

An enormous shock is resounding across the personal lives and finances of individuals across the world. Finding innovative programs to assist will separate top employers from the rest and create substantial returns on investment, both in terms of dollars and reputation.

Leaders are feeling maxed out with responsibilities right now. Putting forethought on benefits that will ease the substantial costs of getting back to business in the months ahead will be well worth the time and money spent. Hold on to your talent. Other organizations want them and losing your good, trained employees will be one more giant expense on top of those already suffered.

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