Working 100% from home sounded very appealing to most of us — or at least it did, prior to Spring of 2020. A year and a half of experience later, and it’s clear to most that when we’re away from the office for an extended period we can end up losing one of the best parts of the employee experience: the joy of live interaction.
Not to mention the perks.
In part one of this two-part series, we broke down the reason it's time to rethink the benefits you offer your employees and covered five of the best workplace perks to consider implementing in the post-pandemic era.
In part two, we're exploring the five perks employers should offer to boost the employee experience, attract top talent, and hang on to their highest performers.
As you may recall from part one, these are the 10 workplace and employee experience benefits employers should offer to really wow the workforce:
Before we jump in, let's do a quick review of what we've already covered — if you haven't already, we suggest you start at Part 1: Five Workplace Perks Employers Should Offer.
If you don't have time to go back and read the first post, here are some of the key points:
The main takeaway is this: A shift in what people value about work is fueling transformation. When it comes to a great employee experience today, structure and routine are out, and having a variety of interactions, experiences, and options is in. People are looking for an increased level of flexibility compared to pre-pandemic.
High turnover is a pressing concern for employers today, highlighting the importance of the employee experience for attracting and retaining talent to the workforce. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who quit or voluntarily left their job hit an all-time high in April 2021 when it reached four million employees.
Here's what employers need to know about how the pandemic is changing the employee experience and what that means for the future of employee benefits.
Last year, during the stressful events that occurred after the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 43% of workers in the United States felt their employer-sponsored health plan had mental health benefits that met all of their needs — an issue that must be addressed by employers.
Today, there are several promising and creative corporate wellness programs out there that can improve the employee experience. Peloton just launched a corporate wellness platform they say helps encourage employees to participate in team exercises to promote bonding and encourage accountability. Reportedly, Wayfair and Samsung have both joined.
In addition to access to mental health benefits and resources, some of the perks mentioned in part one of this series can also help boost employee experience by supporting well-being. In particular, workplace flexibility is associated with higher job satisfaction, engagement, and physical and mental health.
There are the three main categories of work flexibility employers may consider implementing in the future:
Other ideas for perks that help provide an employee experience focused on well-being include meditation services and meditation apps, telehealth and teletherapy apps that link employees to health and mental health providers, increasing the benefits covered, as well as expanding support to help employees find and take advantage of the benefits available to them.
The opportunity for advancement can ensure employees feel valued by their employers. Yet, less than half (43%) of employees said they're offered sufficient opportunities for internal advancement, according to research from the APA's Center for Organizational Excellence.
By supporting your workers' drive to learn and grow, you're not only helping to develop their strengths, but you're also reinforcing the fact that the work they do is meaningful and worthwhile. And when they're on top of their game, so is your organization.
Here are some examples of professional development and continued education perks you can offer to improve the employee experience:
Personalized gifts and company swag are always appreciated, as evidenced by the huge number of branded t-shirts seen everywhere you look around Silicon Valley. What makes gifts more meaningful, however, is the thought that goes into them. Personalized gifts improve the employee experience because they help people feel recognized, cared for, and connected to the organization.
According to the Incentive Research Foundation, incentive programs with awards in the form of money or tangible awards increase performance by 22% on average and team incentives can increase it by up to 44%.
Some employers are looking at implementing work-from-home allowances or stipends to offset some of the perks they used to offer. One example of this is Buffer, which provides each employee a $200 annual stipend for technology costs and $500 for setting up their home office, in addition to paying for their internet bills.
Another idea is to implement a home-office decor and furniture allowance, so employees can create an environment that best suits productivity on the days they work off-site. Or you might give employees a certain amount each month to use on working in a shared office space.
Google is helping to tackle student loan debt for its employees, recently announcing they'll match monthly student loan repayments up to $2,500.
More and more companies are beginning to offer financial planning assistance, support, and other helpful tools and resources for their employees. According to PwC's 2021 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, financial distress is the top cause of employee stress and 63% of those polled said it has only gotten worse since the pandemic began. Since financial stress accounts for most of the stress employees experience — more than job, health, and relationship stress combined — offering advice on personal finances and debt relief is a smart move for employers looking to improve the employee experience.
The paradox of working from home is that while job satisfaction increases by 65%, job stress goes up by 22%. Some evidence shows that blurring the line between work and non-work life has a negative effect on the employee experience.
That means employers need to respect working hours and help their employees maintain healthy boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
Some key areas to keep in mind when it comes to an employee experience that promotes a good work-life balance include:
When it's time to work, people should be empowered to focus, collaborate, and accomplish their objectives — and when it's time to stop, they should be able to set work down and still feel they have the bandwidth to manage their personal responsibilities and enjoy life outside of the office.
It's not just good for the employee experience, it's great for business, too. Happy employees are better employees, so make it a point to support and reinforce the importance of maintaining a good work-life balance.
Pre-pandemic, only around 11% of companies let people bring their pets into the office, according to SHRM data from 2019. Due to several coinciding factors, that just might be changing.
There was a boom in pet adoption that occurred over the course of the pandemic. Think about it: COVID-19 left a lot of people feeling isolated and alone. What better solution than to find a furry companion?
But what does it mean now that offices are reopening?
Well, for starters, if their employer won't let them bring Fido to work or give them the option to work from home, pet owners are considering finding a new job. You may not have considered a dog-friendly workplace before, but if you're worried about recruitment and retention, now might be the time to reconsider this employee experience perk.
Society is abandoning the idea that employees have to be in the office 9-5 every day.
Adjusting to new ways of using the office is a challenge. Fortunately, with a little research and the right workplace tools, leaders can take things in stride and help support a better employee experience throughout the transition. How employers respond will set the foundation for the new golden age of work.
There are so many ways Teem by iOFFICE enhances the employee experience — from keeping meeting room reservations in a single place, real-time desk and room availability and updates to scheduled meetings, and the ability to manage flexible seating and hot-desking on a shared schedule.
Since our interface is intuitive and easy to use, leaders are able to collect a broad range of helpful information to make data-driven decisions about the workplace. So you can always be sure you have the data you need to continue improving the employee experience.