For any employer trying to attract and retain high-quality employees, keeping up with changes in benefits is an ongoing challenge. It’s clear that workers want to trust their employer to help safeguard their physical and mental well-being, and it’s also apparent that doing so is in the employer’s best interest. But there are always competing interests—fairness, cost, time, and more all need to be juggled to come up with the right combination of employee benefits.
Companies of all sizes had to adapt on the run when they reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic, beginning two whole years ago. Where it was possible, workers began working from home. That disrupted perks like company-provided lunch and use of the onsite fitness center for many. Also, employees were improvising—quickly—to establish workspaces that could function effectively. Many companies rushed to help, offering stipends for home office purchases and subsidies for internet and other essential communication support. While not strictly considered benefits, these productivity enhancements helped ease the transition from a well-provisioned office to a possibly not-ready-for-Zoom-time home office. When the need for remote work continued (for some), the changes became practice, and workers adjusted physically and mentally.
For workers able to perform productively from a remote location (usually home), the initial transition was made to keep the business running while offices were closed. Mostly, companies and employees expected a short stint at the dining room table followed by a return to the office environment. But for the majority, the shift persisted and proved not just functional but often advantageous from both a business and personal perspective.
As a result, many workers became accustomed to working from home and incorporated the practice into their work-life management, enjoying the three-yard commute from home to office and the benefit of browsing their pantry for snacks instead of a vending machine. According to numerous studies like the Guardian 10th Annual Employee Benefits report, more than half of all workers want to work at least part of the time remotely, even when the Covid-19 pandemic issues are fully resolved. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 60 percent of employers that expanded remote work opportunities during the pandemic plan to continue offering options to staff.
This shift offers challenges and opportunities to both companies and workers. For example, some organizations may decide the best approach to embrace the remote-work paradigm and build on the progress already made, shedding physical space and investing in technology and productivity, plus employee satisfaction. For others, committed to a return-to-office philosophy, their priority might be perks that motivate workers to relinquish the comforts of home.
For some organizations, onsite perks like lunch, snacks, ping pong, and casual meeting areas are a crucial part of the culture. So those companies rushed to find ways to demonstrate their commitment to supporting their newly remote staff by hosting virtual trivia contests, online cooking classes, and frequent deliveries of comfort food (think popcorn and chocolate.)
With wellness top of mind for employers, some offered friendly encouragement for workers to work out by hosting events that allowed them to earn rewards by reaching milestones (walk a mile, get a point). These contests can also promote the interaction between team members, which may diminish when everyone is remote. Comparing goals and achievements in an online forum or virtual meeting is an opportunity to bring people together to discuss a non-work topic and have some fun.
Employers want to attract and retain employees, and they have an array of tools to use, including compensation and benefits. While individual pay is typically customized by position or even at the personal level, benefits may have one or two tiers or be identical for everyone. The company must balance what the workers want with the costs associated and choose accordingly. Benefits packages typically have basics like insurance and paid time off, and then perks, which are extra offerings that can make an employer more attractive. Taylor Benefits can help you craft a package that includes the essential health and other benefits you need, sweetened with some low-cost, flexible perks like these:
Employee discounts. People love bargains, and if you can collaborate with a significant consumer vendor or even a local pizza delivery service to offer a discount to your team, that can help with both recruiting and retention. Depending on your company’s size, you may be able to negotiate at the local level or for something bigger. The merchant gets free advertising, and the workers get a discount.
PTO for volunteering. Paid time off for volunteering is one of the perks that has been on the rise in popularity, although it took a step back during covid lockdowns. Many workers want to volunteer—whether at their child’s school, the local animal shelter, or a food bank—without using their vacation time. Companies can offer individuals the ability to accrue volunteer time or help organize team service days that promote camaraderie.
Flexible work schedules. Like allowing employees to work from home part-time, offering staff the opportunity to choose working hours that don’t precisely match up to others is a low-cost but highly-valued choice for many employees. Human resource experts say that not only does this authority offer the workers a practical advantage in managing their personal obligations, but it also provides a valuable sense of agency as they decide when to be on the clock.
Overall, a benefit plan should be a well-balanced package of basics and extras, formulated to support the employees’ needs but still mindful of the employer’s budget.
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