By Alex Hind, CEO, Heka…
The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly caused disruptions to the traditional style of business operations around the world. With July 19th proclaimed ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK, business leaders are confident in rethinking their post-pandemic workplace cultures, and anticipating a speedy return to the office.
There are many, however, who will continue to favour more hybrid or remote styles of working. In these cases, business leaders should seek ways of improving team morale, and ensuring employees continue to feel valued and understood in an evolving workplace environment, wherever they’re based.
Employee benefits are an important asset in demonstrating a company’s investment in their employees’ health, happiness and future, and are a great way of attracting high-quality individuals. During the pandemic, though, almost all traditional office-based perks, such as free snacks, lunchtime yoga and on-site facilities, were deemed useless to the cohort of remote workers.
The prolonged period of ‘working from home’ that the UK workforce became so accustomed to has prompted a recalibration of employee attitudes, moving more towards concerns of health, work-life balance and flexibility.
Whilst some challenges may arise from the new hybrid style of working, adjusted benefits packages which address these, such as support for mental health, and establishing better teammate connections, are increasingly preferred by employees.
As the workplace environment evolves to accommodate more remote workers and hybrid environments, it is crucial that business leaders guarantee every employee feels included and valued. Here are some top tips to ensuring employee benefits evolve along with this new style of working:
Flexibility is the first step
In a post-pandemic world, benefits must be able to fit around individuals’ unique lifestyles and schedules, and take work-life balance into account.
Time and location flexibility is, thus, key. With remote and hybrid working, employees are no longer commuting to one area, and so perks must cater for wherever they are based. Options that can be used both in-office and online or delivered to remote workers could be a great alternative, for example.
Place focus on mental health
Increasingly, health benefits have become an expectation in the workplace. Recent research by Glassdoor has found that more than half of employees now place more emphasis on perks related to physical and mental wellbeing, rather than office-based perks such as free food. Almost 90%, furthermore, would be more likely to apply to job roles at companies that care more for their employees
In a competitive recruitment environment, employers who don’t adapt to these post-pandemic employee needs, and communicate the personalised support they provide, will be at a disadvantage. C19 has encouraged companies to be vocal about how they support mental and physical wellbeing, making it harder for companies who do not support this, to keep their own employees fully satisfied.
Put employees first
Simply asking employees what they want and need can be a great step to understanding the workforce better and providing benefits they will actually make use of. For example, we always recommend companies conduct an employee health survey to create a good starting point to build from.
The generation of all-purpose ‘one size fits all’ benefits has long passed; offering a variety of work perks is crucial to ensuring there is something to appeal to everyone. The best benefit providers are those who are constantly at the forefront of employee needs and evolving as these develop, ensuring their offering is constantly relevant.
Missing a certain demographic in the workforce can lead individuals to feel as though they are not valued, so it is important to ensure all employee wants and needs are heard. Allowing a range of options for all employees to feel supported and accounted for can ultimately increase employee satisfaction, levels of performance, and decrease the risk of absenteeism and higher turnover.
Care for all employees (remote or in-office) in the same way
It is crucial that remote workers receive the same, or equal, support and benefits as those in the office – one must not take precedence over another.
Open communication and a trusting environment is key to ensuring those who feel uncomfortable or unfulfilled feel free to speak up and voice their concerns. Regular in-person team meetings or one-to-one catch ups could benefit employers in understanding and listening-to these concerns.
Review engagement levels
To understand the success or acceptance of a benefits package, identify if there is any trend in the engagement levels of the people who do or do not use it. For example, is it only appealing exclusively to one demographic? Or, is it excluding specific groups?
Benefits which can provide leaders with useful insights and engagement transparency can allow them to continue to support the workforce in the best way possible, especially those who may feel underrepresented.
Ongoing employee surveys and feedback methods can help employers to gain an understanding of how valued employees are feeling and what their wants and needs are, so they can continue to feel accepted and satisfied in ways of work benefits.