The pandemic made it abundantly clear that work and personal life can no longer be treated as isolated parts of an employee’s life. As industries and 5-year plans came crumbling down in a matter of months, companies and employees soon came to realize that it isn’t all about the paycheck.
While employees took action at first sight, quitting jobs even in the midst of one of the hardest times in the year, companies were also quick to catch on. Fidelity Investments, for instance, rolled out a benefit that offered greater support to workers who were also caregivers. This included access to expert care, childcare reimbursement and more.
The trend caught on soon with companies like Google and many others putting employees’ needs first. Fast forward to the present, and employees today expect more from companies, willing to take home less, if it means better quality of life and access to core working benefits. In fact, a study found that 80% of employees shared this sentiment, and would give up a raise for better benefits. Naturally, this didn’t fall on deaf ears, and per the Future of Benefits report, around 98% of US HR leaders and C-suite level decision-makers agreed to invest in workplace perks.
So, what are the most-wanted perks in a modern workplace? More importantly, do companies stand to benefit from this shift? Read on to find out.
Most sought-after workplace perks and benefits in 2021
With remote work gradually becoming the norm, the division of household labor also changed. Parents share duties more equitably today and the pandemic made it clear that childcare benefits were among the most crucial of all. In fact, 500 leaders surveyed by the Future of Benefits report also deemed child care among the most essential perks.
Working families faced quite the brunt during the tough months that confined families to their homes, and now employees are doing all they can to safeguard what truly matters. So much so, that family benefits company – Cleo, saw a 167% increase in memberships, with most seeking comprehensive benefits. Companies also bought in, and as per a Sage survey, around 27% of businesses adopted childcare-specific policies.
Going forward, companies looking to go down this path will have to accommodate revised needs. Apart from health, childcare financing, assistance finding daycare, after-school care, tutoring, and other remote solutions can be a step in the right direction.
Flexibility and remote work provisions
The pre-pandemic workplace and model is no longer practical. The enhanced flexibility offered by working from home or remotely is one that employees aren’t ready to part with, and likely never will be. A whopping majority of 96% of workers chose remote working, if not full-time, at least in some capacity, as per a FlexJobs survey. On the other hand, 65% of workers chose remote working as a full-time solution.
The corporate working model has been reimagined and the ‘where’ has relocated to wherever the employee feels most productive. Companies would do well to cater to this need, and many are already on board. The hybrid work model is here to stay. As per a Gartner study, around 80% of employers are prepared to institute policies that allow for the same.
Home office perk program
To keep up with the shifting landscape of the post-pandemic workplace, home-office perk programs, like those launched by Google, Indeed, Shopify, and many others, have proved their efficacy. Since the majority of the corporate workforce wants to ditch the 9-to-5, brick-and-mortar model, this is a solution that offers what employees really need – comfort on their terms. From ergonomic chairs to stipends for setting up a workspace at home, this program can be defined by each company to suit their employee needs.
Better Vacation or PTO policies
Much like the flexibility of remote working, employees today have been vocal about the desire to unplug on their terms. Unwinding is a basic need which benefits productivity and overall performance. However, existing models do leave room for improvement. Companies have adapted to new working models, but the concept of time off is still shackled by archaic chains. However, companies don’t really need to reinvent the wheel to hit the ground running.
Netflix, for instance, has an unlimited vacation policy and allows their employees to take as much time as needed to recharge. This is part of the PTO policy and has proven effective. Another notable mention is Media Temple, a company that strongly advocates for paid sabbaticals. After 3 years, employees here are encouraged to take an entire month and engage in activities that enrich them. Perks like these allow the modern employee to get as much value as possible from their current job, and also attract those who want to grow and enhance their skills.
A study found that employers who invested in wellness and comprehensive health initiatives achieved around 3-to-1 return in money saved. This isn’t surprising as unhealthy employees are more stressed, less productive, and have lower morale. Rising medical inflation combined with exorbitant healthcare costs is difficult to manage without a safety net, which is likely why company-provided coverage is now a demand.
Without proper care, people can’t work, and this doesn’t only apply to physical ailments. Mental health is just as important to the modern employee, with burnout at the top of the list. Employer-led solutions are the key in this case, and some companies have done well at addressing it. In fact, of the Best Workplaces in 2021, around 70% have a provision or policy that allows employees to access mental health care as needed.
Benefits to organizations
The success of many global companies can be credited to their benefits programs. For instance, Media Temple’s PTO policy is a driving factor for attracting top talent. Remote work has been reported to be an equally huge success. As per a Mercer report based on a survey of over 800 employers, productivity was found to stay the same, if not higher in some cases.
These are just a few of the upsides, here’s a larger list and companies stand to gain these other benefits too with better implementation.
- Enhanced performance and productivity
- Reduced absenteeism
- Increased employee engagement
- Stronger organizational culture
- Access to a more diverse pool of talent
- Enhanced loyalty and reduced turnover
- Better employee health
While instituting and standardizing nice-to-have policies, benefits, and perk programs does have some bureaucratic involvement, truly progressive companies needn’t wait to pioneer change. The benefits of a happier, more motivated, and more cared for employee far outweighs the cost, and failing to deliver basically ensures turnover. The ball is now in your court, and it may be best if the ‘new normal’ your company defines is nothing like the old.