How employee benefits will change post flexible working

  • January 06, 2022

The pandemic has dramatically changed the workplace landscape, including the approach taken to benefits. Most significantly, as a result of covid, working from home has become the norm. This represents a dramatic shift, as in 2018, 46% of the workforce weren’t offered remote working as an option at all. This major shift in the workplace means that employees need to have their support and benefits system entirely revolutionised. 

If employers don’t offer these changes, they may possibly lose large chunks of their workforce; a survey early in 2021 found that 55% of employees considered their loyalty to their company dependent on the support offered after the pandemic has ended. 

When looking for new work, and indeed while at your current job, it will become imperative to make sure that you’re offered an up-to-date benefits package. 

These benefits won’t just make working life easier. In some cases, it will become increasingly necessary for your wellbeing and productivity that they’re available. 

With companies as big as HSBC moving to permanent remote working options, the rest of the market is highly likely to follow suit. While increased productivity and workforce contentment remains a possibility in these big future shifts, just how productive and effective they are will depend on the benefits provided by employers.

5 changes to the current benefits you need to be aware of

Below are 5 major changes which employees should be aware of. Take note, however, that all employers will be taking different approaches. Some will be eager to get the workforce back together, in the physical workplace, where others will be keen to cut back on office expenditures. 

We will have to wait and see which employers pick which approach, but the changes listed below are to be expected (or have already occurred) in most workplaces.

1. Mental Health & Wellbeing Outreach

Given the unprecedented struggles faced by all during the pandemic, all firms will have had to increase their wellbeing outreach. The fact that most employees are working from home has also altered the way mental health has been supported. It complicates reaching out, and makes it harder to learn how employees are truly coping, and will mean that HR departments have to re-evaluate how best to maintain a healthy workforce. 

Not only is wellness a concern for employees and an ethical concern for employers, a workforce which is incapacitated by mental and physical ill health will not be productive.

2. Remote Working

While remote working was once seen as a significant perk, it is now coming to be seen as the norm, and this will only increase. This switch in attitude means that employers will have to offer additional enticing benefits to employees, whether increased holidays, a wellbeing budget or, as is increasingly common, a fund which goes towards creating a fully functional home office. 

After all, as an employee, one should not be expected to pay entirely for one’s workplace – this is a different question when freelancing of course.

3. Training budget

As the workplace evolves, employees must evolve with it. It is in both the interest of employers and employees that regular training takes place. 

This training is already occurring at most companies; while most in the modern age are computer literate, moving entirely online has brought new challenges with it – both technical and social. IT and HR departments will need to keep the workforce up to date with the latest updates, keeping their eye on the ball at all times. 

Whether in-house training or stipends offered to seek training from external providers, this will certainly remain a pertinent issue.

4. Flexibility

The ideal scenario for many is the option to either work from option or work from the office, as and when it suits the worker. 

Work based tasks can easily be done from home, and can be done around an employee’s other life commitments; if they need to be with the kids in the afternoon, work can be done while the children are at school and after they’ve gone to bed. However, if they feel cooped up or just want to work with colleagues in a more social setting, the office will be available. 

A flexible employer who takes an easy approach to how and when tasks are done (as long as they are done) will become increasingly sought out by large segments of the workforce.

5. Consider your needs

Before looking for a new job, or asking your boss about benefits available, consider what you personally need to be both happy and productive. 

You have children? Perhaps you’d appreciate a job that paid towards childcare costs, or had a crèche at the office. You’ve had health complications? Look for a position with an excellent comprehensive health insurance option. Each job offers unique benefits, it’s simply a question of finding a company whose offerings most closely match your personal needs. 

Assessing your options in the event changes occur

If you’ve enjoyed the remote working opportunities offered by the pandemic, the good news is that they’re likely to be here to stay. Many employers, including Microsoft and Google, are stating they intend to offer a remote-first approach to work even after the pandemic has ended, making changes to flexible working a more permanent affair. 

If flexible working is preferable and it seems that your employer is holding back on making such changes permanent, it may be worth making a potential application list of companies with a work ethic that more closely matches your personal preferences. 

As the job market changes, companies will have to adapt their offerings quickly in order to attract excellent talent and then retain those employees. 

It’ll likely be the case that those with the most attractive benefits will be those with the best staff, in turn raising revenue and enabling better pay and options packages – a win-win cycle of company evolution.  As for employees, the options are becoming more and more readily available, they simply have to be sought out.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash