The pandemic reshaped the world as we know it, and with it, our notions of what work should be. The dynamic between employees and employers – forged during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries and relatively unchanged since – is shifting. People now expect more from the companies they work for and are willing to walk if they don’t get it: the Great Resignation has seen record numbers of people leaving their jobs, with one in five workers globally planning to quit in 2022. This has exacerbated the talent shortage the world was facing prior to the pandemic, and now two-thirds of executives across industries say they’re grappling with a labour shortage crisis.
These trends have businesses scrambling to figure out how to attract and retain talent. This requires some out-of-the-box thinking, as traditional incentives may no longer be relevant in new socioeconomic circumstances or to younger generations. Companies have had to start thinking about their most valuable resource – their human capital – as actual humans, and focus on their individual desires and needs to deliver a compelling employee value proposition (EVP).
This is perhaps more challenging than simply putting more money on the table, as a Glassdoor survey found that 80 percent of workers would prefer additional perks for employees over a raise. With that in mind, these are some of the employee perks and benefits that are helping to snag and keep the best of the best.
This is worth mentioning first, because the pandemic forced a grand reshuffle of working practices almost overnight, demonstrating that work could continue without people commuting to the office five days a week. The result is that almost half of the workforce wants to work remotely or in hybrid form, with this desire more prevalent among women than men.
This means that if your company does not offer hybrid or remote working options, you’re probably missing out on talent. However, when you consider that the proportion of LinkedIn job postings that allowed for remote work increased from one in 67 in March 2020 to one in six by early 2022, it’s clear that this hardly represents a unique proposition; rather, flexible working practices are becoming fundamental to any company’s EVP.
When it comes to work, people are thinking about more than just money these days. That doesn’t mean that money has become any less of a concern – particularly with the ruinous effect the pandemic had on many employers and employees alike. Research shows that 34 percent of employees are stressed about their finances in a survey by Champion Health. Employers should care about the psychological well-being of their staff regardless, but this is affecting the bottom line: these stresses cost businesses a staggering £1.56-billion per year in lost productivity in the UK alone.
Obviously, the first step towards ensuring financial wellness among employees is to pay them fairly. But smart companies are going a step beyond that by offering financial wellness packages that include things like emergency savings funds, financial planning education and coaching, retirement savings plans, and safety net insurance. The ultimate goal is to help employees turn their hard work into long-term financial security. Doing this right necessitates a deep understanding of your staff and the financial circumstances they face. From there, development of a strategic financial wellness framework begins. This framework draws supporting benefits together into one cohesive programme.
The desire for a better work-life balance, coupled with improvements in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), has seen fertility benefits become highly sought-after in employee perks programmes, with 70 percent of millennials willing to change jobs in order to access them.
These include things like egg-freezing, in vitro fertilisation, and even surrogacy. However, fertility benefits aren’t just for heterosexual women. With DEI increasingly taking centre stage in the competition for top talent, organisations need to expand the scope of these benefits to include same-sex couples, transgender people, and single parents.
Long-standing stigmas around a natural phenomenon that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle during middle age mean that this is something not spoken about much. However, the fact is that around 20 percent of the workforce is impacted by menopause.
Menopause affects women from their early to mid-40s, which is usually when they’re at the height of their careers. They’re experienced and contribute greatly to their organisations. This means that it has the potential to result in enormous productivity losses on top of the physical and emotional distress of trying to balance work with this difficult period in life.
Businesses can no longer afford to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to offering support to women suffering through menopause. The stigma around it needs to be broken so employees feel comfortable discussing their struggles. In turn, companies can develop initiatives including awareness training, education, and flexible working conditions to support staff.
With so many people confined to their homes for extended periods during the pandemic, it’s unsurprising that pet ownership has surged over the past couple of years. Isolation from other people has created enduring bonds between people and their animal companions. In an era of declining global birth rates, pets have become surrogate children for many.
Pets provide companionship, reduce stress, and mitigate loneliness, all of which are good for people’s mental health. And what’s good for employee mental health is good for employers, which is why pet-related benefits have been cropping up more and more at businesses around the world. One example is pawternity leave, which is time off work to bond with a new animal family member. Some notable companies including Amazon, Glassdoor, and Google allow pets in the office, while others provide central day care for animals. With pet-care costs escalating, providing pet wellness programmes that help staff actively manage the well-being of their furry companions is a great way to avoid unwanted financial stresses, making this a more attractive benefit than pet insurance, for example. Watch this space for more surprising benefits and unconventional portmanteaus.
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