News & Articles
3 key employee-benefit trends in the post-pandemic landscape
It is now more than three years since news of a novel coronavirus hit the headlines, drawing a line of separation between our pre-pandemic ‘normal’ and everything that was to follow.
To a greater or lesser extent, many areas of life have been subject to change. This includes our relationship with the world of work, where the experiences of enforced remote working and furlough were major influences behind a collective recalibration of work-life balance.
Today, with Covid-19 playing a far more reduced role in our lives, has that balance shifted again? Compared with recent years, do the employees of 2023 want different things? When thinking about benefits, how have their expectations and priorities changed? In this article, we highlight three key areas of focus for 2023.
Pensions reinstated as top priority
In the wake of the pandemic, HR teams reported that flexible working had overshadowed pensions as the most valued benefit among employees, according to one survey. However, the situation appears to have changed as we head into 2023, with pensions reportedly regaining the top spot.
There are likely to be various reasons behind this shift. It is possible that individuals are placing less urgency on the need to redress their working arrangements in light of easing pandemic pressures, or even that they have begun to realise these goals in tandem with their employer in recent years.
It is also possible that the perceived value of pensions, regarded as a fundamental benefit by many, has grown in recent times, with the cost-of-living crisis sharpening employees’ thinking about the need to put in place robust financial plans for the future.
Flexibility remains vital
Despite the above, there is no doubt that flexible working remains among the top priorities for today’s employees. From flexitime to the four-day week, there is an increasing expectation that employers will be open to more fluid alternatives to the regular nine to five.
The demand for flexibility is particularly strong among parents of young children. According to one study, as many as two thirds of workers said they would be willing to take a cut in pay in order for their work to fit better around family life.
As such, employers will continue to face the multi-faceted challenge of managing a hybrid workforce, answering the need to sustain levels of productivity and employee satisfaction while maintaining a strong company culture.
The pandemic hasn’t fully gone away
Infection levels might be a fraction of their pandemic peak and visual cues, such as hand sanitiser and masks, might not be as prevalent, but Covid-19 is still with us in many ways.
Collectively, we are coming to terms with what has been defined as a “global mass trauma event”, which describes the potential for the pandemic’s impact to be felt deeply and to linger with us. As such, it can continue to have a negative effect on mental and physical health, leading to feelings of anxiety and contributing to burnout. Research from the US shows that the levels of stress and worry experienced by employees reached all-time highs in 2022 and, furthermore, three-quarters of employees report feeling burned out on the job at least sometimes.
For employers, it can be difficult to identify and address these issues, particularly where the signs are subtle and the symptoms are hidden beneath the surface. Many are therefore seeking to address the cause at its root by offering proactive rest to employees at risk. This can include regular allocated well-being time or targeted time off around intensive working periods.
Research shows that this common-sense approach can not only benefit the individual, but it can also pay dividends for the organisation: where rest is “available, accessible and effective”, the performance of employees is 26% higher.
As Covid-19 continues to recede from immediate view, we are beginning to see the affect it has left on the landscape of the workplace. It appears that certain features remain relatively untouched, including the value of salary and pension benefits in the minds of employees.
However, there is also evidence of fundamental change. Trends that rapidly evolved in response to unprecedented circumstances, such as flexible working, are now embedding themselves into a new-look post-pandemic world.
For employers, meeting the needs of workers in 2023 therefore requires an understanding of what has changed and what hasn’t. Furthermore, it means translating that understanding into an appealing, all-encompassing employee offering – one that not only responds to their demands but proactively supports their evolving needs.
The information contained within this communication does not constitute financial advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such information. Vintage Corporate or any of its associated representatives shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the content of this communication.
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