Just like many areas of our lives, pandemic has changed the employee benefits as well. This pandemic has pushed many employers to re-evaluate benefits and perks. Flexible work options once considered as luxury are currently the norms. This pandemic has changed the workplace and hence multiple benefits like pantries filled with healthy or not-so-healthy snacks are no longer required. At the same time, it has brought to fore many other aspects of life which were not considered very important so far.
Though no one has the right answers on the future of work, hybrid seems to be people’s favourite and most viable option. Now that we are looking at operating from anywhere, the total reward landscape is also set for a change.
Here are some of the reasons why employee benefits are changing
- Great resignation is looming large and companies are working overtime to retain staff. One of the most important worries for staff today is medical cost, time off when falling sick and flexibility to take care of family members in case an emergency arises.
- The landscape of workplace has changed and benefits need to where the receiver is and hence the office gym or yoga studio is no longer a benefit as these are not accessible largely and we are not aware of what’s in store and how many more waves we are going to face.
- There has been a shift in perspectives and mindset and we now know that it’s not only physical wellbeing that is important but all 8 dimensions of wellbeing play an important role and hence focus should be on all 8 dimensions i.e. physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, environmental, financial, social and intellectual
- Research conducted by Paychex and Future Workplace with 603 employees in the month of November 2021 indicated that well-being benefits are the key for new applicants. More so for Gen Z as 67% strongly agreed or agreed that wellbeing benefits are an important factor while applying for the next job
Here are the top pics for benefits in post-pandemic world
Wellbeing has emerged as the most important benefit in the post-pandemic world and in my view amongst the 8 dimensions, five are the keys-
- Financial benefit: total compensation retirement planning, financial wellness, and awareness. I know a few friends at very senior levels who got broke within 3 months of losing their job. We are not taught financial management in schools and colleges and hence employer needs to play an important role in education and supporting people
- Mental wellbeing: one of the most important silver linings of the pandemic has been focus on mental wellbeing. The first and foremost thing here is to have a mindset and culture in the organization where people are not stigmatized for having a mental illness. Therapy sessions, employee assistance programs, mental health apps, etc are some of the benefits that are being provided to staff
- Social wellbeing: It is no secret that pandemic has made us realise the importance of water cooler remarks as a stress buster. Creating an inclusive environment, supporting people with opportunities and tolls to socialise if another benefit area is being worked upon. Most importantly leaders have become more human and have started understanding challenges faced by the team and are leading by empathy
- Physical wellbeing: many people witnessed their money being wiped out in hospital bills and hence extended insurance cover including support for mental health, efforts on health and safety, periodic disinfection, distribution of sanitizers, masks, thermometer, oximeter, vaccination support are all examples of physical wellbeing benefits
- Intellectual wellbeing: this pandemic has offered opportunities for self-introspection and many people have realised that the current job role is not bringing happiness and they need to explore something different. Besides, many jobs have been wiped out and skills made redundant. In view of this reskilling upskilling and learning and development, employee benefits are another key benefit area. Lessons have reached our devices and self-learning support is an important requirement. Besides, coaching mentoring, internal movement opportunities are also rated highly by employees
Employees have become caregivers for immediate and extended families. Besides, they need to be sensitive towards requirement of families since offices have reached home. A young parent must organize that school zoom call before starting the day’s work and also need to be ready to get interrupted due the day due to challenges faced by technology and general work environment at home. In view of these challenges, employees need flexibility.
Managers have to stop micromanaging and let go of urge to see their teams working. Flexibility to start and end the day anytime as per work requirements and freedom to operate from anywhere are being asked for by the employees. The Accenture Future of Work Study 2021 found that majority (83%) prefer a hybrid work model. It also found that 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a “productivity anywhere” workforce model.
Paid Time off
Paid Time off is another important benefit that is crucial in the current scenario. After each wave ravages us, we need time for ourselves and the family. Also, with work from home, it is difficult to set boundaries and the day never ends. This leads to additional stress and that is why many organizations have started offering paid time off and its usage as a benefit is only going to increase.
The pandemic has changed work workforce and workplace and so is the total reward including benefits. HR needs to re-evaluate the benefit offered and bring in course correction, as required.