How to Continue to Support Your Essential Workers
Updated: Sep 30
COVID-19 has certainly shaken up our routines. From working from home, to returning to the workplace, to home-schooling our kids, we have all had to step up to new and unforeseen challenges. When we look back (hopefully soon!) at the COVID-19 pandemic we will all remember that essential workers took center stage—and rightfully so. Your organization may be one of many companies that counted on essential workers to keep business moving. Now is the time to show these valuable workers you support and appreciate their continuing contribution.
In a recent report, Brookings sized the country’s essential workforce at 90 million people (from 2018, the most recent year with complete data). Black and Latino or Hispanic workers make up 29% of frontline essential positions (those required to physically show up to their jobs), and both before and during COVID-19 these workers have endured the highest levels of unemployment.
These workers are doing jobs that require them to be physically present in the workplace. In the beginning of the crisis, many organizations offered “hero pay” or “hazard pay” to these employees, but this practice has largely halted due to financial unsustainability.
Employers Are Supporting Workers with New Benefits
Nearly half of employers surveyed by a recent Willis Towers Watson report say they’re enhancing healthcare benefits and broadening wellbeing programs as a result of the current environment. In fact, 47% are enhancing healthcare benefits, and 45% are broadening wellbeing programs.
According to Regina Ihrke, senior director and wellbeing leader at Willis Towers Watson, even though “most employers anticipate a significant negative impact from COVID-19, many are taking steps to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. Employers are doing what they can to support their workers through this difficult time. The pandemic has led to high levels of employee anxiety and stress, so employers are making it easier for employees to get help across all aspects of the wellbeing spectrum.”
Every day, essential workers are facing new challenges and stressors that are affecting their wellbeing. They are worried about their health, keeping their families safe, financial insecurity and more. Imagine during all of this you also become a new parent. Take all of the worries we are facing and add in a new baby—who you will most likely want to breastfeed – and it is no stretch to realize the amount of anxiety new parents today are facing. When it comes to breastfeeding, a recent survey revealed that nearly half of moms are even more committed to feeding their baby breastmilk because of COVID-19. And this is where it gets much trickier for essential workers, who are expected to be at work every day, compared to remote workers who could breastfeed or pump breast milk at home.
In a time when retention of essential workers is key, you can support them with a benefit that focuses on breastfeeding and parental support. Female essential workers that have returned to the workplace after maternity leave, and all other women who may choose parenthood, need support now more than ever.
As the #1 breast pump brand in the US, Medela has been committed to enhancing mother and baby health through the life-giving benefits of human milk for more than 50 years. In support of this goal, Medela partnered with Mamava to create the New Moms’ Healthy Returns program, a customizable solution that includes best-in-class technology, products, and resources to help employers provide their workforce the support needed to successfully balance a career with breastfeeding and a growing family. This offering can include breastfeeding equipment (pumps and supplies), virtual telemedicine support (lactation consulting and nurse advice), pumping space solutions by Mamava, and breast milk shipping services if you have traveling moms in your workforce. Show your essential workers that you care about their needs with a benefit that allows your workers to remain a valued employee and be a successful parent.
Please also explore the following COVID related resources that may be of interest. We have created these resources to help employers ensure they provide a comfortable and sanitary pumping space for their returning workers.
Showing your workforce that they are valuable and ensuring they stay engaged with your company has never been more critical. Expanding benefits is one way you can illustrate you are continuing to support and reward their contributions.
1. Brookings, June 2020. Examining Options to Boost Essential Worker Wages during the Pandemic
2. Human Resource Executive, May 2020, Here’s how employers are changing benefits due to COVID-19
3. New Moms’ Healthy Returns Survey, January 2020
4. New Moms’ Healthy Returns Survey, June 2020