A new year brings new hope and new optimism…and, for many of us, a new way of working.
For most people, 2020 saw our work lives changed, with entire workforces working from home due to the pandemic. While the dust is still yet to settle, remote working and greater work flexibility are set to be the new norm. When 900 HR leaders were asked if they intend to allow employees to continue working from home even when it is no longer necessary, 77% responded “yes.”
2021 provides employers with the chance to hit reset, implement new strategies, reinvigorate employees, and put things back on track. This includes employers reviewing their existing employee benefits and revising their offer.
New Year, New Benefits
To reinvigorate employees and improve employee engagement, it’s essential when reviewing their benefits offer that employers remember that our work lives affect our personal lives and vice versa. In other words, it’s not as if there isn’t one version of John Smith who works for company X and another version of John Smith who only exists outside of company X – it’s one and the same person. Therefore, it’s important to offer benefits that support the whole person, especially when so many of us are working from home, part-time, or full-time.
So, exactly what employee benefits do employees want in 2021? In the benefits and engagement report, we surveyed approximately 5,000 participants aged 18 and older throughout Europe to find out.
While work-life balance and employee health had been gaining traction in recent years, last year’s events have made them the top priority of employers everywhere. If you’re wondering if employee benefits really create employee engagement, read this post. Flexibility and Financial Wellbeing
Bonus & Profit Sharing is the most important benefit for all age groups and all countries in our survey except for the UK where it ranked second place. One way to interpret this finding could be people’s increased need for financial wellness given the effects of the pandemic, including layoffs, reduced working hours, and less job security.
In the UK, flexibility (e.g., working hours, working from home) is the most important benefit for all age groups (except those over 60) and the second most important benefit in Sweden and Germany. This finding reinforces that to be engaged in our work, we also need time for the other things outside of work that are important to us. As one article on Harvard Business Review writes, studies have shown that people who find joy in non-professional activities see benefits in both their careers and personal lives.
On work flexibility and employee benefits that support the whole person, Katie Goodwin, Head of Client Relations International at Benify, says she believes that flexibility has changed meaning today. “Flexibility pre-COVID-19 meant working from home, making sure your work could fit around your life, and that’s even more relevant now. Work and home lives are now blurred lines, and juggling your family commitments, elderly care, children, and being able to go for a run in the middle of the day takes a different level of flexibility.”
Happiness, Productivity and Engagement
When people feel happy in their lives in general, they’re also more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. A Fast Company article refers to a study at the University of Warwick that found happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, sharing that human happiness has large, positive effects on productivity.
The article also shares that low employee engagement rates are “an opportunity for companies to boost their productivity by investing in employees’ welfare and workplace happiness.”
The Freedom of Choice
Flexibility isn’t only about working hours or working location; flexibility also reveals itself as choice. In the case of employee benefits, flexibility means employees are given the ability to choose how to spend their benefits budget and choose the employee benefits they need.
The best way to give employees the option to choose their own benefits is through a flexible benefits plan. Created by the employer, a flexible benefits plan enables employees to make their selections from a range of pre-tax benefits up to a set value to create a customized benefits package. Whether employees can choose their preferred supplier for healthcare or childcare services or which insurances they want, a flexible benefits package is the way to go. Don’t miss the top 5 reasons to offer flexible employee benefits.
In 2021, reinvigorating your workforce and increasing engagement means supporting employee wellbeing both at work and at home, which, today, is very likely to be one and the same place for many employees.