January 25th, 2021 by Louise Cunnah
For many years, salary hasn’t been the most important part of a job description; instead, offering the right employee benefits can mean the difference between attracting the right talent that will grow with your business and your vacancies not remaining filled for long. Although last year brought plenty of uncertainty that has sadly continued into 2021, one thing that has changed is the needs and expectations of employees – and as a result, the workplace perks they expect to be offered.
2020 was a difficult and confusing time for most of us, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing a sudden shakeup in the way we work and communicate with our family, friends and coworkers. As a result of our usual face-to-face chats in the office largely being replaced with instant messages, emails and video meetings for much of the year, in 2021, a bigger emphasis needs to be placed on offering employee benefits that boost morale and well-being.
According to a recent study from Perkbox, the most sought-after workplace perk in 2021 will be employee discounts (on things such as supermarket shops and meals out), with over 50% of UK workers admitting that this benefit would make the largest difference to their happiness and well-being. Although this is something that may be difficult for every business to offer due to the current climate and logistics involved, there are plenty of other highly sought after perks that you can start working into your employee benefits packages now…
Remote and flexible working
Even before COVID-19 temporarily changed life as we know it, flexible working ranked highly on the list of the most sought-after perks of the job. In fact, 59% of respondents of a 2018 survey from TotalJobs said that this would be the most important benefit to them when looking for a new role. With statistics from the ONS showing that last April, 46.6% of UK workers carried out some of their work at home, it’s likely that your employees did the same – and that they may be continuing to work remotely now that the UK is back in lockdown.
Flexible working is a great morale and productivity booster, improving our work-life balance and allowing us to choose to complete our most pressing tasks when we’re at our most productive and focused. In 2020, many employees proved that they can be equally as productive when working from home as they did from the office, so you should continue to offer increased flexibility around working hours and location – even when social distancing and lockdowns have become a thing of the past.
How to offer this perk: If remote working is something that your organisation is still struggling to adapt to, investing in team collaboration software can help your employees to stay on the same page when working together remotely. Having 24-hour access to your workplace can also enable you to give them greater freedom around when they choose to work when they are in the office.
We all want to be recognised for doing a good job – it can be a great morale booster, as feeling valued for the effort we put into our work encourages us to work even harder. Perkbox’s survey found that behind employee discounts, ‘greater recognition’ ranked as the second most desired employee benefit with 42% of people admitting that it would make them happier at work. Sadly, this is something that may have fallen to the wayside if your team is currently distributed across different kitchens, spare rooms and home offices.
How to offer this perk: It’s easy to say a quick ‘thank you’ to your teammate for a job well done when they’re sitting right next to you or even show your appreciation by bringing treats into the office for everyone to share. With the amount we interact with our colleagues falling as a result of working from home, managers should be scheduling regular 1-2-1s with the members of their team over a video call. This gives them the opportunity to check how they’re feeling and highlight any work that they’re particularly happy with. Offering early finishes or extra time off is also an easy and effective way to reward employees who are working remotely.
Additional (or unlimited) holidays
Yep, even with most of us having many of our plans cancelled and less events to fill our spare time in 2020, 41% of UK employees said that having unlimited or a greater amount of annual leave would make them happier in their job this year. The Perkbox survey also found that 35% of employees believed that being able to have time off for their mental health (known as ‘mental health days’) would be the most beneficial to their well-being in 2021.
With the effects of the pandemic still being felt (and likely to be felt for many months to come), taking care of your employees’ mental health and well-being is now more important than ever before. It’s easy for the lines between your working hours and your free time to blur into one when you’re working from home without the change of location. For many of us, the commute home 5 evenings a week is usually a great time to switch off from work. Instead, this has been replaced with simply shutting down our laptops and walking into another room in our home.
How to offer this perk: This really is as simple as it sounds – by looking at the current amount of annual leave you offer your employees and determining if you are able to add on a few extra days. If this is already pretty high, you can put a spin on this benefit by giving employees a day off for their birthday or offering them the chance to work overtime in order to accrue additional hours, which they can use to shorten their working days or even have a full day off work. Letting your staff know that they can speak to you about their mental health concerns and take the day off when they’re not feeling their best can also greatly reduce stress and help employees avoid burning out.
Interestingly, yet not surprisingly, access to free COVID-19 tests and vaccinations through their organization also ranked amongst the list of the most sought-after employee benefits. Although this is something that not every workplace can realistically offer, you can help your team to feel safe and assured that you care about their health during this difficult time by going the extra mile to make changes to their working environment and patterns.
How to offer this perk: Your business should have already implemented necessary changes to your office to help prevent the spread of the virus, such as implementing a one-way system with appropriate signage, placing hand sanitizers throughout the building, installing screens between seating and ensuring that everyone is able to keep a 2m distance. However, you can do more by staggering your employees’ working hours so less people are in the office at one time and allowing them to work from different locations – both outside and inside of your office (if you have enough space). You should also be asking your employees directly what would make them feel safer.
Offering the right workplace benefits is one of the easiest ways to make your employees happy and encourage them to stay with your company for the long-term.
Tec Marina’s serviced offices near Cardiff, South Wales offer plenty of room for social distancing, as well as unlimited tea and coffee, a free onsite gym and changing rooms, and bright and spacious meeting areas. The building also has 24/7 access to allow for flexible working and we have taken all necessary measures to keep our residents and their visitors feeling safe during the pandemic.
Ready to feel inspired by your workplace? Find out more about our flexible offices and facilities or enquire about our available office space by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 02921 678391.