Where season ticket loans, company pensions and cycle-to-work schemes were once among the flagship features of an employee benefits package, these may no longer be enough – or even appropriate – for the hybrid workforce, writes Julie Stayte.
Of the many things to come out of the Covid pandemic, perhaps one of the most unexpected was the rise of a new hybrid workforce. A survey by Webex shows that 57% now expect to be in the office for 10 days or less each month, while Atlascloud research found that 84% of UK office workers would like to be able to work from home at least some of the time going forward.
This new, flexible way of working is having a positive impact on employees’ health, wellbeing and work-life balance, however it does bring with it some challenges for the senior leadership team and HR.
When a large percentage of staff were in the office every day, there was a definite sense of community amongst employees. They saw each other daily, caught up on news and felt that they were seen and heard by their superiors. It was easy to communicate with staff, hold meetings and keep everyone up to date on company business.
Now that large numbers of staff are rarely in the office and some team members only work on alternate days, it is down to the HR team to find new ways of building a sense of inclusion and engagement. According to McKinsey, not feeling a sense of belonging was one of the most frequently cited reasons for leaving a job in the past six months, which shows just how important it is for companies to get this right.
Rethink your benefits
This is where employee benefits packages come in, as they can help employees feel valued and appreciated. But where private healthcare and a company pension were once enough, things have moved on and now employees expect to receive a whole range of benefits including salary loans, holiday trading, electric car schemes, tech schemes and so much more.
The challenge for businesses now is how to make these benefits relevant for all employees, no matter where they are working, whether they are in the office or at home, and what stage they are at on their life journey.
We would rather avoid benefit mismatches like offering a company car to a non-driver, or providing a season ticket loan to someone who is working from home full-time. The very best employee benefits programmes offer a degree of flexibility so that each employee can pick and choose their own portfolio of benefits that work perfectly for them.
By allowing employees to build their own individual benefits package, they immediately feel valued, which in turn helps keep them engaged and motivated.
By allowing employees to build their own individual benefits package, they immediately feel valued, which in turn helps keep them engaged and motivated.”
There are many different companies offering flexible benefits options for employers. At Personal Group, we have a new app called Hapiflex, which brings together a wide range of pre-selected benefits all in one place. This not only makes it easy for employees to craft their own rewards package but also makes coordinating the packages much more efficient for the HR team.
Use tech to keep in touch
Technology is key to improving communication with a remote or hybrid workforce. By using an app-based system such as Hapiflex, employers can schedule regular messaging straight to an employee’s smartphone or computer. Employees can always see a complete overview of their chosen package, view the progress of an application or adjust their choices. They do not need to be in the office to do this.
By offering a flexible benefits solution that managed and run through a single platform, it is easier for employers to add different benefits to the mix.
Employee surveys can also be a valuable way to gain feedback on the benefits that are available and what future benefits employees would like to see. This helps ensure that employees are happy with what is being offered and that the offer remains relevant to their working arrangements. This in turn keeps usage and engagement up.
Offering employees the potential to work from home, from the office, or a mix of both, has become a crucial way of retaining staff and attracting new talent in a highly volatile market. Employers are having to learn on their feet how best to adapt to this new way of working and how to keep employees happy wherever they are based. By listening and responding to the needs of their staff, they can build on the principle that when a person feels well – financially, mentally, emotionally, physically and socially – they will thrive.