It’s no secret that the nature of work has changed dramatically over the past few years. What relatively few employers have realised is that employee expectations have also changed.
In order to ensure employee retention and the maintenance of a healthy, productive workforce, employers need to up their game and consider compensation from a more holistic perspective. Let’s explore what that might look like in real life, from an HR perspective.
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Understanding changing social needs
To understand what employees are looking for from their workplace, it’s incredibly helpful to first identify changing social needs. Based on those, it’s then possible to provide benefits that actually cater to the demands of the workforce – specific, relevant benefits that will make their lives better.
One of the most significant changes experienced by a massive 80% of the global workforce is the reality of remote working. While the nature of these individuals’ typical work day will be incredibly different, from environmental conservation officers working in national parks all the way to accountants working from their living rooms.
These jobs will obviously have their differences, but also a number of shared similarities and issues. Recognising these common issues, whether it’s an increase in mental health problems or not having access to a professional social setting, can help HR professionals to provide the perfect solutions for the workforce under their care.
Potential examples of employee benefits that can cater to these challenges could include providing access to mental health tools, or ensuring that employees have a space in which they can meet up on a regular basis to ensure that they still feel like they’re part of a larger team.
Access to healthcare
In countries like the UK, access to reliable, high-quality national healthcare has been taken for granted for several generations now. Unfortunately, due to a number of complex political and economic factors, that fact is no longer a given.
As a result of the suffering capacities of hospitals and health clinics, many employees are starting to suffer. Whether it’s not getting adequate support for chronic, ongoing issues, or not being treated properly for accidents, the effects on employee well-being can be significant.
From long Covid to increased waiting lists for routine surgeries, if your employees aren’t able to work at their peak capacity, not only will they suffer as individuals, but the business employing them will also suffer, having to support them through their illness.
While private health insurance is not a new benefit, it’s becoming increasingly common to offer it as a perk for employees. Not only is it an attractive benefit that has a tangible effect on the lives of those receiving it, but it will also likely lead to the business in question having a healthier, happier, and overall more productive workforce.
The cost of living
It’s no secret that as a result of long-term political mismanagement of the economy and the ongoing effects of the pandemic, most people are starting to struggle financially. The cost of living crisis is having a direct effect on the majority of the population, from rising mortgage rates to reduced real-term wages as a result of inflation.
Genuinely helpful benefits that can help employees through the cost of living crisis include competitive retirement plans, financial coaching, and budgeting tools. Which of these you provide will obviously be dependent on the position in question. Make sure that benefits aren’t handed out as a single standard package within your organisation; cater each package to the specific requirements of each position, to ensure that you’re not missing opportunities or wasting perks that will not be beneficial to those receiving them.
Other innovative benefits
In addition to responding to current events and common issues, there are a few noteworthy modern benefits that will be appreciated by a wide range of employees.
For companies offering hybrid working options, with just one or two days per week in an office environment, it’s becoming increasingly common to provide more extensive flexible working options for at least part of the year. This flexibility can be both temporal and geographical.
Flexible working hours
It’s becoming common knowledge that not everyone works best during the 8 hours between 9 am and 5 pm. As a result, a lot of companies are starting to offer more flexible working hours, based on the idea that if employees are working when they most want to work, they’ll likely be more productive.
From an employee perspective, this can be incredibly helpful. Whether it’s a parent who needs to be available for childcare at specific hours or someone with insomnia who works best in the afternoon and evening, it can significantly expand the potential workforce accessible to businesses.
For businesses that still benefit from having employees in the office a few days a week, fully remote working can be offered as a perk for a set amount of time each year.
Whether this means providing all employees with a few weeks during which they can work completely remotely each year, or providing an added week or two after each year of employment, this can allow employees to work from other places in the world, opening their horizons and increasing their access to incredible opportunities.
In addition to perks like private health insurance, a lot of businesses are starting to provide access to other, more diverse wellness benefits. This might be coupons to special spa days in the country, or membership to a nice gym chain.
If you’re concerned that these kinds of benefits will be too expensive, you may be surprised. There are often discounts available to employers who buy these kinds of things in bulk, and the ROI in terms of increased employee well-being can be well worth it.
While these are a few ideas that can be useful to a wide range of employers, it’s incredibly important to remember to keep your benefits relevant to the primary demographic that you employ.
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all perfect compensation package – keep adapting it to fit the needs of your employees, and you can ensure that you maximise the efficacy of your approach.