Understanding Where Perks Fit in the Post-Pandemic Workplace
The workplace has undergone not just one, but several significant changes over the past three years. Businesses that had never entertained the idea of remote work were suddenly forced to develop a remote-first strategy.
Plans to return to the office changed and changed again as the pandemic ebbed and surged. Even now, as the COVID-19 pandemic enters yet another stage, companies are having serious discussions on how and when to bring employees back into an office — if at all.
As companies develop their remote, hybrid or in-person strategy for the future, they should be mindful of employee perks. In-office perks took a back seat in importance during the height of the pandemic, so companies need to think long and hard about what perks will look like going forward.
The 'End of the Office' Doesn’t Mean the End of Perks
Obviously, changes to the structure of work will mean the end of some perks. Pool tables, huge quantities of in-office snacks, or chair massage days will likely be reduced as fewer people go into the office. However, 85% of employees feel that perks are just as important or more important to them now than before the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.
But this is the danger with remote or hybrid workers: to treat them as out-of-sight, out-of-mind. For the majority of workers (68%), their offices haven’t introduced any new perks since the start of the pandemic. Combine the lack of new perks with the elimination of old perks and restricted access (especially during 2020 and 2021) and you have a recipe for employee burnout.
With so many workers quitting their jobs to work for more attractive companies, your company can’t afford to treat perks as an afterthought. Companies will lose out on talent when they ignore the misalignment between what they provide and what employees want.
Redefining Perks for the Remote Workforce
The conversation that needs to happen between senior leaders, HR, office managers and other stakeholders is how to best adapt perks to meet the needs of the hybrid workforce. Some perks have translated well to a hybrid environment and have stuck around during the pandemic — things like social gatherings, dedicated work from home days, or health and fitness reimbursements.
Yet as they continue, these perks need a rethink on how remote workers can best take advantage. Happy hours over Zoom, for example, instead of in person, or reimbursements on individual health classes, rather than memberships to the office gym. While it’s obviously impractical to give all employees their own pool tables, reimbursements for home office equipment can be done with a little forethought and a solid strategy.
For more data-driven takeaways and strategic information about the future of perks, download Robin’s report on the state of perks today!
Tailoring Perks to What People Want and Need
While companies face the added wrinkle of delivering perks to a more distributed workforce, in many ways the challenge of deciding which perks to offer remains constant. Exactly what perks employees want varies depending on their stage of life and job level.
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Perks such as more time off, wellness stipends or mental health resources are more important to millennials and Gen Z. Elder millennials and young Gen Xers consider perks one of the most important things they look for when choosing an employer, while many older Gen Xers and Boomers don’t have much of an opinion on which perks they prefer. Parents of all ages appreciate the flexibility that hybrid work brings.
Employees’ opinions on perks also relate to their job level. Entry-level employees (who are often younger) were the most likely of all groups to see their perks cut during the pandemic. On the other hand, middle managers and executives (traditionally older employees) were less likely to see their perks eliminated.
When reviewing perks, recognize how employees at different job levels are affected by the transition to remote work.
The events of the past several years have impacted the workforce like never before. The digital transformation that was always just on the other side of the horizon was suddenly here, and companies had to adapt. But as regions and offices open up, companies can’t afford to ignore the employee experience, which continues to impact employee engagement and retention.
In the narrow context of what work will look like, recent events offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine work, and the benefits that come with or without an office. While some office-based perks might not make sense for today’s hybrid workers, other perks such as wellness benefits and home office stipends can positively impact the employee experience.
Companies need to listen to what employees want and address their issues. By listening and acting, companies will be better positioned to retain top talent, even if those employees never step foot in the office.
Unless otherwise noted, all data taken from the report Incentivizing Workplace Collaboration: How Employee Perks Have Evolved To Meet New Hybrid Workplace Needs by Robin. To read the full report, visit robinpowered.com.