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Post-pandemic employee benefits: What do your workers really want?
Having lived through a public health crisis that pushed the NHS to its capacity limits, today’s workers are acutely aware of the value of healthcare-related benefits.
It is just one example of how attitudes have changed in the wake of Covid-19, leaving employers to reflect on how best to recalibrate their benefits offering to ensure the elements resonate as effectively as possible in the post-pandemic world. Here, we look at these changing employee perspectives and how companies are adapting to provide packages their employees really want.
Healthcare, as already mentioned, has become a key priority area. Research from one insurer points to a notable rise in demand for critical illness cover, which provides workers and their families with access to a lump sum that can offer a level of financial solace in the event of being diagnosed with a serious condition.
Over the course of the pandemic, the role of telehealth and remote consultations was also given a significant boost, and companies are also looking to support employees by tapping into this improved access to healthcare professionals. As such, more traditional employer health offerings, such as flu vaccination programmes or assistance with eye tests, are now being augmented with access to the convenience of virtual GP services.
Providing more holistic support
The impact of the pandemic was more than physical, of course. Many people found their mental health deteriorated under the strain of Covid-19, with enforced lockdowns, furlough and remote working all amplifying feelings of anxiety, isolation and despair.
These experiences came at a time when conversations around mental health and wellbeing were already becoming increasingly open, making it no surprise that employees are looking for their employers to provide more support in this area as part of a holistic offering. This could encompass access to professional counselling, for example, or specific support programmes for those affected by menopause or fertility issues.
It is an issue recognised by both employees and employers alike, with research from Towergate Health and Protection revealing that 40% of companies were more concerned about the mental health of their staff post-pandemic, while 53% recognised that workers would value more support in this area.
A key aspect of this support is offering employees the benefit of greater flexibility in terms of their working hours and the ability to work remotely. These two aspects of working life have rapidly risen up the agenda of workers who have re-evaluated the balance between their professional and personal lives in recent years. Indeed, 88% of respondents to one survey said they would consider a lower salary for the benefit of being able to work more flexibly.
As well as support for personal wellbeing, workers also continue to value opportunities for professional development. This is not only appealing to prospects, but it can also support employee engagement and retention. This is underlined in the Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn, which highlighted that 94% of workers 94% would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
Complementing pensions with financial planning
Of course, financial benefits are also a fundamental pillar in building a strong relationship between employers and employees, with workers acknowledging the importance of a workplace pension. Engagement in this area can be difficult to achieve, however, with workers drawn to more tangible and immediate benefits, such as office drinks and travel schemes, over long-term financial planning for their retirement.
Implementing a financial wellbeing policy can be a route to building those levels of engagement, providing a platform to communicate individually with employees and ensure they understand the true value of the benefits on offer to them. This point is supported by the Reward Management survey from the CIPD, which found that employees covered by a financial wellbeing policy are more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their overall benefits package (70% versus 28%) and three times as likely to agree that the benefits package supports them at different stages of their life (60% versus 19%).
Furthermore, this reinforces the importance of continually consulting with employees on the benefits that are of most value. As the last few years have shown, priorities can change fast, but an ongoing ‘temperature check’ among workers can throw up valuable – and potentially unexpected – data on where benefits will be felt.
Analysis of hundreds of thousands of anonymous company reviews conducted by Glassdoor, for example, revealed how employees were happy to lavish praise on employers who supported ‘mental health’ and a ‘hybrid’ or ‘flexi’ approach to work. At the same time, it also uncovered a surprising but almost universal interest in the issue of ‘parking’.
So, while there remain fixed, fundamental pillars in terms of employee benefits, it is clear that attitudes to the workplace and the associated perks on offer have evolved based on the experiences of recent years. For employers, the challenge is to keep pace with this change and to keep listening closely to the employees who are redefining the world of work.
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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