New perks for the new remote workforce
In the B.C. (before COVID-19) era, many startups and other modern and innovative companies prided themselves on building office cultures where perks like snack bars and comfy break areas made employees feel at home.
Now, of course, most office workers actually are home. And that’s left companies rethinking what benefits really mean to their employees. With team outings and guest speakers off the table for now, what can they offer to attract and keep the top talents of their fields?
Here’s the good news, which might surprise many business leaders in the post-Google landscape: only 16% of respondents to a survey said that in-house extras like free food and games were a priority for them when comparing employee experience between workplaces. Instead, they were looking for “empowerment” and “trust”--in other words, the ability to make their own decisions about how they do their jobs and invest in themselves as whole people.
That translates to perks that impact their whole lives: flexibility, mental health resources, and financial incentives.
Scheduling freedom lets employees WFH around their family’s needs--particularly important for newly-homeschooling parents or those now working from a crowded, busy living space. Access to mental health care and the sense of a financial fallback are critical to wellbeing in these tumultuous times. Many HR departments will find themselves needing to cut the fat from their benefits budgets and focus on these critical areas to retain a healthy, committed workforce.
Some longer-term benefits, like continuing education, are already being widely waylaid. While they can be a draw, such programs siphon high amounts of critical funds away from more immediate needs.
Overall, benefits are being adapted to serve employees whose priorities have shifted as much as their employers’ have. Programs that help the whole family and contribute to logistical and emotional security are coming to the forefront as HR departments are reminded on every Zoom call that no employee is an island. It’s just one more set of vital lessons that these unprecedented times have to teach us about the human side of work.