The Most Important Thing Your Company Can Do Post-Pandemic: Get Creative With Employee Benefits
Welcome to the aftermath. The dust is beginning to settle; the world is beginning to open back up. We’re slowly adapting to the dawn of a new day.
That said, the labor market has been decisively affected by the pandemic. No one can seem to find hourly workers. People are quitting their jobs in droves. You can work from anywhere, including the top of Mount Everest, as long as the Wi-Fi is decent.
The world has changed, and so has the way we work. As employers try to make their way through the new normal, one thing they can and should focus on is the benefits they offer employees. If you hope to remain competitive in the talent market, you need to adapt.
Working From Anywhere — and Any Time
The trend has been set, and the workforce now demands it. According to FlexJobs, 33 percent of workers in the post-pandemic employment market are looking for a hybrid work setup that allows them to work in the office sometimes and remotely other times. It almost feels like such arrangements will stop being “perks” and soon become the norm for all companies.
And that’s a good thing. When employees have work arrangements that suit their preferences, they are happier. Happy workers are statistically more productive. This is good news for Zoom’s share price, company output, and our carbon footprints — but bad news for the local sandwich shop. Progress is progress.
The increased adoption of remote and hybrid work also makes it easier than ever to offer employees flexible work hours. In a super busy world where work/life balance can be hard to find, this flexibility is enormously appealing to workers, especially those who have families and young children. In fact, flexible work hours may be one of the most effective ways to help the 2 million female workers who left the workforce during the pandemic return to the office.
Four Days Are Better Than Five?
From 2015-2019, the Icelandic government conducted a study that found a four-day workweek to be just as productive as a five-day workweek — if not more so. This would be an extremely innovative benefit for US companies to adopt in the wake of such a physically and mentally draining pandemic. Workers are more conscious than ever of how their jobs can impact their quality of life. They want to work to live, not live to work — and a four-day workweek can help them achieve that.
Obviously, this benefit would not work in all job sectors, but it’s certainly worth considering if possible for an organization.
Supporting Employee Health, In and Outside of the office
I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly heard a plethora of individual accounts of how we’ve all handled the pandemic differently. Some have sailed right through, while others internalized all the fear that was meant to help keep people safe (it very well may have helped with mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdown compliance). Still otherwise fell headfirst into conspiracy theories.
In short, people have been through a lot over the past year and a half. The effects of the pandemic will not disappear overnight, and employers must be sensitive to this fact. Companies must be prepared to support their people through this transitional period, and one of the best ways to do that is by offering extensive mental health benefits. As with remote and hybrid work, I predict this benefit will soon become more of a standard offering than a bonus perk, so employers should get on the bandwagon now.
If roughly a third of the labor force wishes to remain in a hybrid work setup, per FlexJobs, then employers must ensure that any mental — and physical — health benefits are equally accessible to all employees regardless of location. And employees need to pay particular attention to the well-being of their remote workers: As we saw during the pandemic, people can easily end up working longer hours when they work from home, putting them at increased risk of burnout. Make sure you’re meeting your remote and hybrid workers’ needs with virtual healthcare options that help them manage their well-being while they’re away from the office.
Letting Workers Relax a Little
It’s been a very stressful year and a half, and companies have only been able to get through this challenging time thanks to the effort of their staff members. With that in mind, one very simple benefit with a powerful impact is offering employees extra paid time off. This acts as both a welcome “thank you” and a way for your workers to get some much-needed rest.
Companies can do a lot to attract, retain, and motivate top-tier talent in the post-pandemic landscape. It all starts with employers being sensitive to what employees really want and need right now.
While the past year and a half has certainly been difficult, there is one silver lining. We can — and should — walk away from it with new ways to increase efficiency, improve quality of life, and ensure that both employers and employees can thrive.
Arran James Stewart is the co-owner of blockchain recruitment platform Job.com.
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