Return to Work? What's Next for Employee Benefits 

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As we all adjust to returning to our workplaces there are big questions businesses need to face.

What’s changed? How do we adapt? What’s the employee experience like? How do we engage with our employees?

One thing’s for sure, there won’t be a single solution that suits everyone.

Physical adjustments

The practical aspects in terms of physical adjustments in policies and practices are often the easiest to address.

There are a few specialist health and safety consultancies that can help build compliance protocols, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has an excellent checklist. All of this helps support businesses to map, revisit and improve aspects such as ensuring hygienic, safe workspaces, determining what density of employees you can support in the office or devising a test and protect protocols.

Employee return

The more challenging aspect is how your employees feel about the return.

What do they want from you, their employer, and what impact will it have on their wellbeing?

Questions to consider here include —

  • Do your employees feel safe in the workplace?
  • Will the return to the workplace either impact on or enhance performance?
  • Are you listening to your people and their wants and needs?

(Source: CIPD, 2021)

Listening to Good Morning Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland recently I was interested to hear that productivity hasn’t been adversely impacted by homeworking, and over 50% of employees have enjoyed an improved work life balance, and want to retain some flexibility on workplace and home working from now on.

In short, a 100% office-based strategy may not be the solution your employees are looking for.

In fact, Deloitte’s hybrid work survey says “only 21% of the surveyed companies expect their employees to return to the office and return to operating under the ‘old normal’. The remaining 79% of respondents realize they do not want to lose what was learnt during the pandemic.”

More than work patterns

Interestingly, in our experience, the importance of flexibility goes beyond work patterns.

Employees are interested in how their benefits enhance their work life balance too. Plus, as we continue to move into the ‘pandemic normalisation’ phase, many sectors are facing skill shortages, and we are seeing fierce competition among prospective employers.

Combine this with the financial impact on many businesses and it makes sense for organisations to consider new employee benefit and employee engagement strategies.

One of the best ways employers can stand out here is to create a competitive benefits package — one that meets the needs of all parties and makes sense in terms of the marketplace.

It also has to be properly communicated. After all, there’s no point in having a stellar benefits package that no-one values nor understands. As an example of a fresh approach to benefits, what about Amazon Prime membership for your employees?

Plus, a good benefit programme is a business tool and the return on investment should be analysed and measured and treated in the same way as any other business spend.

Ultimately, it’s about reaping the benefits of making the employee experience positive and engaging. This isn’t an aspirational goal, it’s what’s going to drive your business forward.

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Navigating the 'new normal' in the workplace

Read our latest article, written by Employee Benefits Consultant Anne Lawson here.