What benefits do employees actually want?

In the past year especially there has been a distinct shift away from traditional business models. Not only has remote working become the norm – as a result of the pandemic, but people’s priorities have also shifted. Companies too are realising that employees are one of their most valuable assets and looking after their well-being needs to be a high priority. As a result, many traditional employee benefits are no longer viewed as a draw card. Instead people are looking for benefits that align with their values and current needs.

Which employee benefits are falling out of favour?

Because of current uncertain economic times, traditional financial investments are proving to be volatile. People are making careful considerations when it comes to long term investments such as life insurance or pensions. Also for companies it doesn’t always make sense to offer these as employee benefits as most employees don’t stay for more than two to three years. Transferring policies can result in much more administration than is worth. If companies do want to continue to offer pensions it’s recommend they consult with a financial advisor and find out if there are any new types of policies that offer better benefits.

What do employees need most?

While many employees have being asking for flexible work environments for years, companies were hesitant to allow it. They were concerned that productivity would decrease and that teams would be more difficult to manage. 2020 proved that remote working can work, and while most employees genuinely have zoom fatigue, they do value the flexibility that working from home affords. As companies start to return to their corporate offices, they should not forget the value that flexible working holds for employees.

Employee well-being is about far more than having a trendy breakroom and time off. In fact it should be a core element of the company culture. When senior managers are genuinely engaged with employees and create a working environment that looks after their well-being it has many benefits for all. Not only are employees happier, they also feel more valued. They feel that they can voice concerns that they may have or make suggestions for improvements – and this creates a more productive and engaged working environment. When people feel as though their being valued as opposed to being policed, they tend to put more effort and commitment into their work.

Physical health has also come under the spotlight in 2020. Companies may consider online exercise class subscriptions for employees that they can do in the comfort of their own home as employee benefits. Relaxation and strengthening classes such as yoga or pilates are also hugely beneficial, especially for employees that spend all day sitting in front of a computer screen.

Lastly, because it is no longer the norm to spend a lifetime working at a single employer, it’s a strong expectation that a work offers employees as step up, a way to increase their knowledge and experience and perhaps even open their career in a new direction. While some companies may view training as a waste if employee’s intention is that they’ll simply move on, the reality is that employers won’t be able to attract top candidates if there’s no opportunity for learning or career progression. If there is a good company culture in place and favourable working environment, then the company stands to benefit when empowering employees with knowledge and training.

Employee benefits will vary between industry sectors and will also be impacted by factors such as age and life stage of employees. The important thing is that employers engage with employees and find out what is important to them. That way employee benefit solutions can be designed to be relevant to what employees need most.

 

Content sourced from Gareth Carroll of Becketts Financial Services during a HR Huddle Webinar 2021.

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