After more than a year of working remotely, employers and employees alike are realizing that their old benefits offerings may no longer be relevant. What use are smoothie bars and in-office fitness centers when employees are rarely in the office? Employers are asking whether these benefits are worth the costs and employees are imagining how much easier their life would become if their employer offered certain perks. In this blog, we’ll outline three benefits that employees want most once we’re on the other side of the pandemic.
#1. Remote Work Flexibility
The future of remote work is on the minds of everybody at the moment. And because remote work has been so well-received, people are rethinking what they want out of their benefits offerings. The reason smoothie bars aren’t as enticing as they once were isn’t because employees have stopped enjoying smoothies, it’s because they don't want to be in the office enough to use them.
But how widespread is the desire to continue working remotely? One survey found that 58% of Canadian workers want a hybrid work arrangement post-pandemic. Only 16% of respondents wanted to return to the office full-time, which means that a whopping 84% of Canadian employees surveyed would prefer to work from the comfort of their home on at least a semi-permanent basis.
For that reason, employers should begin considering what their remote work policy will look like going forward. Putting a plan in place now may mean the difference between retaining and attracting top performers in your industry and losing your key employees to competitors who do have such a policy.
#2. Fitness Benefits
Many employees utilized group fitness classes during lunch breaks, went on walks with co-workers, or simply found it easier to exercise after work while they were already out of the house. Now unable to overlap work and fitness, employees are looking into joining local gyms and fitness classes—and they’re looking to their employers for support. One survey by ClassPass found that 92% of respondents planned to return to gyms at the end of the pandemic. They also found that 70% of respondents consider fitness benefits one of the most important perks an employer can offer. Evaluate your current fitness benefits to see whether or not they benefit employees no longer working in the office. If they’re too workplace-centric, consider finding ways to provide value to your remote employees. Some popular additions include offering a spending allowance on gym memberships or the purchase of fitness equipment, hosting virtual fitness classes during lunch, and inter-office challenges, which encourages employees to stay active and compete for the top spot.
#3. Wellness Benefits
Healthcare benefits are unanimously the number one most desired type of benefits. However, the types of benefits within the umbrella of “health care” are changing. Previously, many employers were content with dental, vision, and prescription medications. But one thing the pandemic has highlighted for many people is the importance of mental health.
The most common causes of poor mental health are financial worry, work-related stress, and poor diet. Perhaps then it comes as no surprise that some of the wellness benefits employees are most interested in from their employer are financial planning, stress management, and nutritional guidance.
Many employees are also looking for professional mental health support, whether it be in-person counselling or virtual. Attending regular sessions with a therapist or psychologist used to be expensive and time-consuming, but the emerging prevalence of virtual appointments has helped reduce the cost and made doing so more convenient. There are many resources employees can use to find affordable, convenient mental health care.
Health spending accounts (HSAs) have become popular because they provide employees with the freedom to choose which benefits are most important to them and help alleviate the costs associated with seeking mental health support. The other advantage of virtual mental health care is the privacy it affords. Sessions can be held from the privacy of your own home, meaning that nobody has to know. Privacy is for people who aren’t comfortable sharing their mental health struggles with other people.
The past year has accelerated the shift in how employees think about their work. Back in 2019, employees were already relying more on their employers to provide benefits to make their life outside of work easier. Now employees are looking for benefits programs provided by their employer that further improve work-life balance and reduce stress.
In the end, providing these benefits leads to a happier and more productive workforce, one that is likely to contribute to your business for years to come. The employer-employee relationship doesn’t need to be full of tension. As this year has shown, if you help your employees, your employees will work hard for you.
Revisiting Employee Benefits in Light of COVID-19
Learn about changes in the employee benefits world and what these changes mean going forward for your organisation and how to best manage your benefits plan right now.