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This article was contributed by Zach Dunn, cofounder and VP of Customer Experience at Robin.
Organizations today face a rare opportunity to revisit old work standards and make changes that better support employees, attract new talent, and improve the overall productivity of all workers. Hybrid, remote, flexible — today’s workplace is more attuned to the needs of employees than ever before.
Of course, there is no change without challenges. The office’s role has shifted from a central hub to a clubhouse where employees come in to collaborate with their peers and leverage company assets to get their work done. As businesses continue to determine the proper balance between remote and in-person collaboration, specialized perks and benefits play a crucial role in the retention and engagement of employees. To uncover what workplace perks matter to employees today and how employers have — or haven’t — adjusted their perks since the onset of the pandemic, we recently surveyed more than 500 full-time employees.
We discovered that superficial perks, like ping-pong tables in the break room and free cold brew, are no longer enough and fail to serve the growing number of remote workers. Internet and cell phone stipends, wellness resources, and flexible work mean the most to workers, but these needs change when looking at employees by age and role. Read on to learn more from the findings and how business leaders can adjust their perks to attract and retain talent in this red-hot job market.
Then vs. now
Before the world changed, companies prided themselves on perks that engaged and entertained their workers. Even though 85% of employees still feel workplace perks are as important or more important than they were before the pandemic, many witnessed their company’s pre-pandemic perks disappear with the transition to remote work. For those whose companies retained their perks over the last two years, free food/snacks in the office (25%), health and fitness reimbursement (20%), and travel reimbursement (17%) are the three most common carried-over perks.
In 2021, workplaces were thrown several curveballs. From emerging variants to delayed opening dates, many employees had to adapt to working in a way they wouldn’t have chosen. Many employers have already introduced new offerings to better serve their hybrid workforce, such as additional time off, flexible working hours, and wellness stipends. Still, many leaders have held off amidst the continued uncertainty. While we have little to no control over the state and progress of a global pandemic, we do have control over workplace benefits and perks packages.
What employees want today
In 2019, Comparably noted that the competitive job market was driving new and creative perks to attract talent. The job market has never been more competitive, with resignations reaching record highs and the talent shortage impacting every industry.
Knowing that employee needs changed over the past two years, it’s telling to see that the top three most desired perks employees want to be introduced by employers are more time off (45%), a wellness stipend (30%), and the ability to work from anywhere (29%).
As burnout is a serious issue in workplaces worldwide, this isn’t surprising. Based on our data, workers would love to see their phone and internet covered— reasonable but rarely provided perks.
Workplace perks and the generational divide
The generational gap in the workplace can present significant challenges for leaders trying to attain and retain talent alongside the transition to more flexible working models. While millennials view perks and benefits as one of the top three items they look at when choosing an employer, boomers remain apathetic about their organization’s workplace perks. Fifty-six percent of respondents within this demographic report their feelings about perks haven’t changed, though many reported losing them due to the pandemic and that their employers failed to create any new offerings.
Workplace leaders may not keep all of their employees happy all the time, but keeping these contrasting values in mind when revamping your offerings will put you in a much better position to create a productive and happy workforce. For those struggling to get started, distributing a survey to employees for insight into their preferred way of working is a great way to create an open dialogue for workers to share feedback. This best practice informs the process of eliminating existing perks that no longer fit your organization and replacing them with new offerings that align with employees’ preferences.
Perks have the potential to differentiate companies in a competitive job market. Getting this right is worth the time and effort — hybrid work is here to stay, and it will require updated employee experience strategies to ensure high productivity, loyalty, and engagement. It’s a good time to kill sacred cows and build a workplace that offers value to employees’ entire lives, not just their careers.
Zach Dunn is the cofounder and VP of Customer Experience at Robin.