In a post-COVID-19 world, the face of work has changed. Our ideas and our needs are changing, and companies will need to reformulate their benefits packages to attract and retain top talent.
We no longer want the 40-plus years and a pension model of work. Employees, especially Generation Z, are just now entering the workforce and looking for something more from work — perks that balance work and life and lead to meaningful development. These are the new perks packages that will help ensure companies stay competitive.
This is a considerable area for revolution, especially post-COVID-19. Companies quickly discovered that many operations could be completed via remote work. A recent survey found that 39 percent of respondents were comfortable with three-fourths of their workforce being remote as opposed to just 14 percent pre-pandemic.
So what does that mean for workers? Companies are eager to take advantage of disruption-proof work practices just as much as employees are demanding flex hours. Employees who can work from home, whether a few days a week or moving their entire job remote, can manage work-life balance more easily.
And it’s not just work location. Some companies like Netflix have nixed work-hour requirements altogether, measuring employee success with accomplishment and not time. If an employee can complete their job in less time, they can do so with no penalty.
This change from the 40-hour workweek is an important adjustment. It allows companies to manage overhead costs, pivot more quickly in the face of disruption, and attract top talent eager to work in ways that maximize work-life balance, enjoyment, and self-fulfillment.
Even the face of vacation time and family leave is changing. Some companies experimenting with unlimited vacation days are also experiencing higher employee engagement. These perks work the same way as eliminating the traditional workday, judging employee success solely on accomplishment and not just on “hours served.”
While only tangentially related to the pandemic itself, employees who were able to take advantage of furloughed hours to explore new hobbies and skills were more likely to manage the downturn in healthier ways.
Studies show that a significant driver of employee retention is professional-development opportunities. And these aren’t the traditional professional-development activities that required considerable time with little engagement. Giving employees the resources and the means to explore new skills to apply to both professional and personal lives is a desired perk.
Post-pandemic employees are looking for ways to increase satisfaction with work and life, giving them a reason to pay attention when a company actively encourages lifetime learning and then provides the means. Soon, competitive companies will be the ones offering these types of opportunities regularly and freely.
Professional-development opportunities may also extend to technology infrastructure. During the COVID-19 disruption, many companies invested in equipment, offered stipends for internet or cell data, and provided reimbursement for home-office expenses. All these little investments bring professional development and work-life balance closer to home and independent from the office building.
Health insurance is a long-standing employee perk, but post-pandemic employees are looking for health benefits that cover a wider range of situations and not just conditions.
Companies could find that onsite health benefits such as medical testing, treatment centers, and wellness initiatives could be the most competitive in a post-COVID-19 landscape. The presence of these onsite perks could help employees feel safer and more secure in an office environment.
Outside the office, access to telehealth initiatives is also a growing initiative in health benefits. These perks give remote employees greater access to health-care options and treatments, creating flexible work perks, and building a healthier workforce.
Mental health benefits are also a renewed interest in onsite options and telehealth. New generations of workers have a more accepting approach to therapy and mental health care, seeking support from employers who provide health benefits.
Putting these benefits into flexible, comprehensive packages not only improves overall employee health and wellness but increases employee retention in the long run. Mental health may improve collaboration, increase employee satisfaction, and help with innovation.
As the pandemic showed us, employee mental health in a crisis also helps the company’s bottom line. Giving employees resources to process the trauma of mass disruption or the loneliness or stress of isolation may be a big investment in the short term, but it provides far-reaching effects in the long term.
The disruption we’ve experienced in this pandemic is going to change the way we work. Reimagining employee perks will help businesses rebuild their organization in ways that attract top talent, keep it, and provide protection from disruption.
Two good things about generations coming into the workforce are the focus on accomplishment rather than hours, and flexible work rather than expensive, bloated corporate structures helping companies lean up operations and pivoting more quickly. Listening to employees and reimagining the face of work could help businesses survive disruptions in the future.