Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Why employers need to adjust their post-pandemic workplace perks

Ginger Maseda, Head of Talent Acquisition, Bullhorn

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, workplaces have seen tremendous and swift changes, with companies now reassessing which workplace benefits they want to retain, expand or introduce. For example, financial tech firm Revolut has told its employees they can spend up to two months a year working abroad. More than 2,000 of the firm’s international staff stand to benefit from this new policy, allowing them to spend more time with family and loved ones. Similarly, Nationwide building society informed its 13,000 employees they could work anywhere as part of a new flexibility scheme. Letting them choose where they want to work gives them greater control over their lives, the company said.

These types of benefits cater to the underlying reason that people have enjoyed working from home – flexibility. Moving forwards, perks will need to focus on this more so than in-office offerings.

A renewed focus on the things that matter

Contrary to common perception, employees and prospective hires are generally not too fussed about perks. Unlike some of their predecessors, today’s workforce (largely made up of millennials and Gen X) show a greater preference for social justice causes and work-life balance. They’d rather be around people they like, enjoy a supportive workplace culture, and know that they’re contributing to something meaningful. In simple terms, fancy perks don’t have the appeal they once did.

Even before the pandemic, Harvard Business Review research indicated that work-life balance competes on an equal footing with salary as a core reason to join a specific employer. In addition, in a survey conducted by multinational insurance giant Aviva, 44 percent of employees cited work-life balance as one of the core reasons they remain in their current role. This figure is likely to climb even more in the post-pandemic workplace.

The pandemic has turned assumptions about the nature of work and corporate interactions on its head, so employers must develop a good understanding of what people like about working remotely. For example, people have discovered that they don’t have to be in the office to get things done, giving them increased autonomy and a better work-life balance. It has proved that employee effectiveness isn’t measured by the number of hours in the office but rather by the quality of work produced. These factors need to be taken into account when assessing company benefits.

Which benefits matter?

Fake fun is easy to spot, so refrain from overselling your company as a fun place to work. As an employer, instead, focus on authenticity. Let existing, happy employees be your mouthpiece – share testimonials and other activities that carry more weight like mental health, general wellbeing, health, and safety. If you have an employee assistance programme, talk about it. If pets and children are welcome to join conference calls or be in the office, show that. 

The humanitarian challenges brought about by the pandemic have pushed wellbeing to the top of the boardroom agenda. Employers are now linking productivity and profitability to engagement, worker health, and resilience. Measures that promote mental health and wellbeing are therefore much more appealing than free pizzas and fizzy drinks. 

Professional services firm Aon found in their 2021 survey that 90 percent of businesses are already stepping up mental health support for employees, a benefit to which recruiters should certainly give prominence.  

Ultimately, employees are looking for benefits with substance. Mental health support, child and senior care benefits, generous parental leave, and flexibility are the glue that will make employees stick. These benefits recruiters need to promote to employers as they prepare for a radically reshaped business landscape.