These days there’s more that attracts people to a job than simply the salary. Increasingly workers take into account additional benefits and perks offered by employers, on top of the traditional forms of remuneration, when determining who they want to work for.
Providing extra benefits for your staff can boost morale and improve productivity, especially in times such as these when a lot of businesses are cash-strapped and the likes of pay rises aren’t feasible.
48% of talent professionals identified benefits packages as the main area in which their company needed to improve.Source
The very way businesses operate is also likely to shift considerably for the long-term, if not permanently following the Covid-19 pandemic, which puts more emphasis than ever on employee experience and engagement.
In other words, get the benefits setup right and you won’t just find the best staff to help you thrive in a post-Covid world, but you’ll keep key staff too.
But what do these extra benefits look like?
Relaxed expenses ‒ putting trust in your staff
Sarah Cook, director at HR People Support, said that there are a host of benefits to employing a flexible expenses process, not least the fact that it demonstrates a level of trust in your employees which can be empowering. There are benefits for the business from an administration perspective too, with less time spent on paperwork.
Cook does note however, that handing over a greater level of spending control to employees can leave a business open to their policy being misused and abused, as well as having to deal with increased costs.
As a result, it’s vital for employers to lay out the ground rules clearly, making clear that while the expenses process is more relaxed and flexible, there are still boundaries over precisely what can and cannot be claimed.
One option for employers is to provide employees with prepaid expense cards. Staff can upload receipts for their purchases and annotate transactions, allowing financial controllers to track exactly how they are spending the pre-loaded funds. And given they can only spend what’s on the card, budgeting for these expenses is incredibly straightforward and gives employers the control they need.
“A relaxed expense policy allows the employee to make decisions in real time, without needing to inundate managers with constant expense related questions or requests. This saves time for managers, HR, and the employee themselves.”Ben Reuveni, CEO of AI-driven employment platform Workey
From free food to childcare ‒ the perks of the job
Other employers prefer to offer more specific job perks as an additional benefit to staff members.
Job perks is a broad term and can cover all sorts of additional benefits designed to make life easier for employees and make the business more attractive to prospective staff. A study by Glassdoor identified some of the more outlandish perks on offer from businesses in the UK, which included:
- Tech firm Improbable offering a ‘life concierge’, who is there to help relocate families, organise parties and even order pizza.
- Facebook providing staff with three meals a day in the office, as well as snacks
- Paid leave when moving house for employees of Sky
- O2 employees benefitting from a massive 14 weeks of paid paternity leave
- An onsite creche at First Direct for staff with small children
Most employers are not in a position to offer a ‘life concierge’ or onsite creche. But there are far more simple perks they can offer which staff will appreciate, with one of the more common being flexible working hours.
Cook highlights that as with relaxed expenses, flexitime shows employees a level of trust, but has the added benefit of being particularly family friendly, allowing you to increase the pool of talent from which you can recruit.
Even as schools slowly return following lockdown, many parents are still opting to keep their children at home due to health concerns. The added responsibility of childcare whilst juggling a full-time job means that flexible hours are, in many cases, a necessity both in the short term and long term.
Almost half (48%) of the UK employees identified flexible working as one of their top five most desired workplace benefits.Source
Health & wellbeing – not just buzzwords
Wayne Campbell, managing director of health and wellbeing provider Healthy Performance, spoke about the increase he’s seen in health-focused initiatives being introduced by businesses in recent years: “Five years ago, health and wellbeing was a tick-box exercise; now engagement is the number one reason to introduce it.”
There’s perhaps never been a more important time for businesses to be vigilant of their employees’ well-being with half of people saying they feel isolated by working from home, and 70% saying they miss the social interactions at work in a recent study.
Whilst it remains important for managers to hold regular check-ins with their teams, how any health concerns, whether physical or mental, are escalated and dealt with is where the real difference will be made.
More and more businesses are covering costs for the likes of therapy sessions for employees and offer breakout spaces in offices for confidential conversations between employees and People Teams regarding mental health.
Adapting to the times – perks in a post-Covid world
Whilst the likes of pension schemes and performance bonuses have previously been top priority for employees in terms of benefits, the inevitable change in work dynamics as a result of Covid-19 could see that change.
Those companies that have previously contributed towards the likes of travel cards may be expected to redirect those funds to supporting employees to establish a healthy work environment at home.
Empowering staff to manage their own online subscriptions to video conferencing software and other platforms that enable agile working is something that more and more businesses will start to look at.
Thankfully with mobile apps and online platforms in place for managing employee expenses and staying in control of budgets, these changes can be seamless and actually save time for the financial controller.
“Employee experience is about doing things with and for your employees, not to them.”Mark Levy, Former Head of Employee Experience and AirBnb and Allbirds