The age-old question: what employee benefits do my staff actually want? And what employee benefits are the most appealing when attracting new talent?
Luckily for you, we’ve done the graft and found out the top 5 employee benefits for 2021 (and beyond!), saving you time.
#1 Flexible working hours
If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that anything can happen at any time. Whether that’s having to take time out to care for loved ones, schools closing at the drop of a hat and of course, working from home.
It is important to remember that everyone has a life outside of the office. As HR professionals, we know how big of an impact this cross-over can make when major changes happen.
Back in 2018, Investors in People found that 31% of employees wanted flexible working more than a pay rise. More recently, Small Business Prices asked 2,000 UK employees about the best work perks. Over 26% wanted either flexible working hours, a sabbatical or more holiday.
The data below is from Small Business Prices article, The UK’s Favourite Work Perks In 2021
- Productivity — Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.
- Performance — With stronger autonomy via location independence, workers produce results with 40% fewer quality defects.
- Engagement — Higher productivity and performance combine to create stronger engagement, or in other words, 41% lower absenteeism.
- Retention — 54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility, which results in an average of 12% turnover reduction after a remote work agreement is offered.
- Profitability — Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter, or 21% higher profitability.
If you’d like to explore your options for flexible working, CIPD have useful resources.
#2 Hybrid working (remote and office based)
There are a few ways in which you can approach hybrid working:
– Remote first: employees spend the majority of their time at home, unless specified
– Office occasional: an even blend between working from home and the office
– Office first: majority of time is spent in the office
Hybrid working has always been high on the employee benefit wishlist. Even more so since it was proven a success for many during the various lockdowns. As well as being time efficient, BCG reported professional benefits:
There are some aspects to be mindful of, such as avoiding and removing silos within your business. But once you identify these, they are usually straightforward to overcome.
If you are looking for resources on how to plan your hybrid working strategy, CIPD have a guide available. They answer the common questions and laying out clear guidelines.
#3 The four-day working week(!)
The biggest buzz lately has been around trialling shorter working weeks. And no, that’s not compressing more hours into less days. It really is dropping an entire working day of the week, without sacrificing salary!
Way back in 2017, TIME wrote an article about the most productive countries in the world. It ranked countries, the GDP per hour worked and their average working week in hours. Perhaps surprisingly, Luxembourg came out top for GDP p/h with just 29 hours on average per week.
Autonomy has published many reports on how working fewer hours has a positive impact on productivity and attendance. Here are a few take-homes from the trial conducted in Iceland:
– Productivity and service provision remained the same or improved across most trial workplaces.
– Worker wellbeing dramatically increased across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout to health and work-life balance.
– The trials also remained revenue neutral for both the city council and the government, providing a crucial, and so far largely overlooked blueprint of how future trials might be organised in other countries around the world.
#4 Enhanced childcare assistance
Anyone with children will know how expensive childcare is. Pregnant Then Screwed have been campaigning for an independent review of the affordability of childcare. They reported the following:
- 5% of those that return to work, only just break even or make a financial loss due to the cost of childcare.
- 7% of those that return to work either work fewer hours, have changed jobs due or stopped working due to childcare costs (8% do not work due to the cost of childcare).
- The average cost of childcare for under 3s varies across the country, with London being the most expensive (average £73.97 per day) and Northern Ireland being the cheapest (average £42.31 per day).
Companies are starting to help address this by offering additional childcare stipends to help families afford to return to work. But it remains clear that more needs to be done when you consider the statistics above.
#5 Mental health and wellness support
Ever the optimist, we did find some positivity came from the COVID-19 pandemic! That was the shift in attitude towards taking care of our mental health. With a focus on concerns surrounding anxiety, isolation, and depression, and many companies adapted their benefits to better support employees.
In January 2021, 41% of adults reported feeling symptoms of depression or anxiety. A number up considerably from January 2019 data, which indicated only 11% of adults experiencing anxiety or depression.
Offering access to mental health resources can help your workforce feel appreciated. This can be through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), counselling services and more. Tackling company culture issues such as employee burnout and how to avoid it can also help.