What will work look like after COVID-19? By now, most businesses around the world have had to adapt to the pandemic in one way or another – but the conversation is beginning to shift toward understanding long-term implications for running a business.
Experts say that COVID-19 has created a future outlook for work that predicts the most successful companies will be those that can leverage the technological and operational advancements they made during the pandemic into the long-term.
This begins with understanding how the pandemic has changed what their employees now consider to be a great employee experience. Many professionals now expect their employers to provide stability, flexibility, trustworthy relationships, and support— both inside and outside of work environments.
As your organization begins to ramp up for hiring once again, how will you continue to attract and retain the right employees in a post-pandemic job market? Here are our suggestions for competitive employee perks that could put your business at an advantage in recruiting and retention.
1. Remote work benefits
Remote work is nothing new. In 2018 alone, 70% of office professionals around the globe worked remotely at least once every week. In this respect, the pandemic didn’t create the demand for remote-capable jobs, but it certainly accelerated it.
Today, 54% of the workforce wants to work from home after the pandemic, meaning that work-from-home benefits are no longer the exception to the rule, but the expectation. This means that offering basic flexible working arrangements won’t inherently give you a leg up on your competition.
The solution? Think about creative perks that you can offer to meet the needs of remote employees specifically. With the resources they save on renting out a large office space, some organizations now help employees create productive at-home environments by subsidizing their equipment, from ergonomic furniture to their monthly internet bill. Similarly, providing childcare benefits, like a dependent care flexible spending account, will provide those with young families peace of mind should their children need to stay home for the day.
2. Financial wellness seminars
Now more than ever, job seekers want to work for companies where they are valued as a person — not just as a worker. Experts believe the benefits that will deliver the most value to employee experience in the future are those that demonstrate how much an employer cares about and is invested in their employees. One popular approach is to offer benefits related to personal financial wellness.
The past six months have been a complicated time in the world of personal finance. While many households were forced to grapple with a reduction or total loss of their primary source of income, others put their stipend check toward a new home, thanks to historically low interest rates on mortgages — which dropped below 3%.
Employees are seeking advice on the best ways to budget their paychecks, invest in their retirement funds, and prepare for future emergencies. Offering employees financial courses is one way that companies can continue to support their employees.
Some topics could include:
- Long-term savings strategies – With personal savings rates at a record-high of over 33%, it’s clear that in 2020, Americans have gained a newfound appreciation for stashing away their cash for emergencies. Yet despite this, many working professionals have not made a habit of saving in a long-term timeline. To best support these team members on their journey toward financial wellness, you can provide access to courses on long-term savings strategies.
- First-time home buying – Many city dwellers and renters have entered the first-time home buyer’s market this year, seeking housing options with more space. Combine that with the fact that interest rates are at historic lows and it’s easy to see why people might be hungry for first-time home buyer education from a trusted source.
- Home improvement budgeting – Since the pandemic hit, many employees and their families have been spending most of their days at home. Those seeking to renovate their space in a way that makes remote work – and remote life – more comfortable may be interested in learning more about home equity loans, as investing these resources back into a home’s value often nets a positive return in the long run.
3. Mental health awareness
When businesses look at the health effects of the pandemic, they should examine not only the physical toll of the virus but also its impact on mental health. One Boston University study found that cases of depression have tripled since the start of the pandemic. Working professionals today are equally concerned with how companies can support their mental health as well as physical health.
Consider including mental wellness in your list of company perks through a designated program — such as an Employee Assistance Program (or EAP) — which is designed to offer employees a way to address and manage personal issues that may be hindering their performance.
2020 has also seen the rapid, widespread adoption of telehealth and telemedicine, including services for therapy. Offering free access to platforms like these is a great way to support immunocompromised employees who need access to care but are concerned about in-person visits.
Managers should also adopt leadership practices that prioritize mental wellness. For example, vulnerability is a popular topic in leadership these days for a reason – leaders who are open about their own vulnerabilities allow employees to feel that their struggles are heard and validated. By being a leader that acknowledges the reality of mental health struggles, you can take the first step in creating a workplace culture that prioritizes mental wellness.
You can also establish regular practices that promote personal connection with your employees like offering positive feedback or scheduling one-on-one meetings to discuss work-related goals and issues.
4. Technology infrastructure
Although new technology is a notoriously costly venture, the benefits tend to outweigh the expenses in the long run. 56% of the workforce feels that they are not properly equipped with the technology they need to perform their jobs well. As a result, these workers feel less engaged with their current projects and feel detached from the organization as a whole.
Think of poor technology infrastructure as a retention-killer. The best employees don’t have to stick around and endure the frustration of working for a company that offers subpar technological resources. They’re looking for employers who are integrating innovative technology into their work processes.
Providing your team with the right tech tools also allows them to be more productive, more efficient, and produce higher quality results. Remember that in addition to providing tools that make remote work more productive, you should also explore tools that support remote employee wellbeing to avoid burnout.
In the event of another crisis, having an effective technology infrastructure in place will ensure that every person in your organization has the support they need to stay productive, inside or outside of the office.