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For Coronavirus Prevention, Benefits Can Help Employees Stay Healthy

For Coronavirus Prevention, Benefits Can Help Employees Stay Healthy
Posted on Monday, March 9, 2020 by Marcy Klipfel

People are concerned about the potential spread of COVID-19, and that worry could be taking a toll on their health.


According to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57% of Americans believed that coronavirus would impact the economy, 55% were worried that there would be a widespread outbreak in the US and 43% were concerned that they or a family member would get sick.

This new stressor adds to the anxiety many people already feel.

Chronic stress is linked to a weakening of the immune system, so worrying about potential health issues like COVID-19 might actually put someone at greater risk of infection if they are exposed. And, of course, worrying can lead to lower productivity at work.

The benefits employees already have can help them reduce stress while practicing prevention. As you prepare for the potential of your workforce to be exposed, here are four tips you can share with employees to help allay their fears and keep them healthy.

  1. Focus on wellness. When people are sick or run down, they are more susceptible to infection. Eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep are always important, but these actions are even more vital if the body needs to fight off an illness. If you offer a wellness program that supports employees in adopting or maintaining healthy habits, now might be a perfect time to promote your program and reinforce the importance of maintaining overall good health and mitigating controllable risk factors. This includes smoking which can increase the risk of respiratory infection.
  2. Consider a flu shot. Flu season continues until the spring, so it’s not too late for a flu shot if someone hasn’t gotten it yet. The flu vaccine won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will protect against illness related to influenza, which can weaken the immune system. The objective is to stay as healthy as possible. Plus, at this point, people are more likely to contract flu than coronavirus. As an added bonus, flu shots are covered at 100% as preventive care so there is no out-of-pocket cost to employees.
  3. Tap into the EAP. The American Psychological Association reports that Americans are stressed about issues that feature prominently in the news. As coverage around the coronavirus continues, this could lead to increased anxiety. Employees with access to an EAP have resources to help them cope with all kinds of stressors, including fears about coronavirus or its impacts. Reminding employees about the availability of an EAP can connect them to the help necessary to manage their overall stress levels.
  4. Try telemedicine. When people are concerned about infectious illness, they may not want to go to a doctor’s office. If someone suspects they have a respiratory infection, a virtual visit can keep them out of a crowded urgent care, ER or doctor’s office while they receive needed care and guidance. A doctor can evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action if coronavirus is suspected. For employees who don’t have a primary care physician, this option can prevent an unnecessary trip to the ER or urgent care.  

With COVID-19, there are real risks to the economy, American employers and the workforce. That’s why so many employers are strategizing about how to address the potential of widespread illness.

For employees worried about their health and the health of their family, their employee benefits offer options to help them prevent illness and manage the associated stress and anxiety many are feeling. As employers communicate with their workforce around COVID-19 and any steps they are taking as the virus becomes more widespread in the US, reminding employees of the resources available to them with their employer-sponsored benefits may help to allay fears and manage anxiety.