A quick summary:
When it comes to offering employee benefits, the list can be both exhaustive, and exhausting. Employees have never been more vocal about the kind of benefits and perks they want for improving work-life balance. Due to this, 2022 is shaping up to be a decisive year for businesses who sink and those that join the employee benefits revolution.
Employee benefits in 2021 vs 2022
Last year proved to be the start of new things to come for employee benefits. Employers began to listen to the mental and physical strain the pandemic was having on its people, and decided to do something about it.
These efforts came in the form of hybrid working schedules and flexible hours, as the trend swept across businesses throughout the UK. However, once the novelty wore thin, staff started to request employee benefits that focused on different aspects of their life. This included financial wellbeing, family planning and fertility benefits, along with many more that contribute to happier, healthier lives.
Ultimately, once people have improved their work-life balance, they prioritise loved ones, hobbies, mindfulness, fitness and other areas of life that bring happiness and joy. This, of course, comes full circle for employers as happier employees are more productive.
According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, they found that happiness boosted productivity by 12%. Professor Oswald, involved in the study, says “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37% …”
As for the pandemic, it could be argued that it has highlighted wellbeing and how employers need to rethink work-life balance. This is especially true for 2022, as we forecast a much different picture emerging for employee benefits.
It’s still early days in the new year, but the rate of change for employee perks is set to be like no other. In the near-future, employers will need to update their employee benefits offering if they are to compete in attracting new talent.
Already, we’ve seen a huge uptake in the hybrid working model, with more than half of UK workers (51% according to Microsoft and YouGov), saying they would consider leaving their current employer if they lost the choice to work from both the office and home.
This research conducted in the last quarter of 2021, revealed the kind of employee benefits trends we can anticipate in 2022. For nearly half of UK workers, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed hybrid working and flexible hours from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’.
It’s said that these work-life balance perks were somewhat responsible for the ‘Great Resignation’ seen in the latter half of 2021. As people began to rethink how to balance both work, family and their wellbeing, they realised other employers still offered the benefit of hybrid and flexible working.
According to the research by Microsoft and YouGov, the top five risks HR professionals face by axing the hybrid working model include the following:
- Unable to retain new talent and risk losing staff to companies who continue hybrid and flexible working perks.
- Negative implications on workplace productivity.
- Employe burnout.
- Negative implications on employee wellbeing.
- Becoming unable to keep up with industry competitors.
In fact, the ability to attract and retain new talent after axing hybrid working becomes a staggering 38% more difficult. This shocking revelation is enough to scare HR professionals across the UK, if they are to continue growing business and winning over the best talent available.
What else can we expect for employee benefits in 2022?
In addition to continued work-life balance, what else should employers prepare for when it comes to employee benefits?
Of course, wellbeing and an emphasis on mental and physical health will play a vital role in happier, healthier workforces in 2022. So, for employers and HR professionals to really win their staff over, they need to listen to their employees. Find out how employee benefits can contribute to physical fitness, emotional wellbeing and improving a better outlook on life, not just in the office, but in general.
That’s not all, it seems like four-day weeks are set to become the new trend in 2022. According to a survey conducted by Censuswide of a 1,000 people, 12% have already secured three days off each week, with a further 19% hoping to achieve that goal this year.
How to attract the best talent with employee benefits
Now that we’re clear of how the past year stacks up against 2022 for employee benefits, how can HR professionals attract the best talent through its perks and rewards?
As we touched on above, more and more people are turning to the wellbeing benefits available to them currently. For this reason, if leaders are to attract and retain high quality team members, mental and physical health benefits are a must. We can’t emphasise this strongly enough, as the demand for better lifestyles has swept across society in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down.
Some of the most common employee wellbeing benefits include paid for or subsidised gym memberships and access to virtual yoga and fitness classes.
That said, there are many other wellbeing benefits that don’t cost a lot of money, but render a lot of positive results. This includes initiatives such as weekly team building activities, themed wellness days, team-wide fitness challenges and competitions and many more.
Before leaders ramp up their employee benefits with a focus on wellbeing however, they must consider both current and future talent. It’s okay to think about which benefits would help with recruitment of new team members, but existing staff must be considered first. After all, they are directly involved in any present employee benefits programme and retaining current employees is far more effective than recruiting new ones.
Another great way to stay ahead of the curve is to see what kind of employee benefits competitors and industry leaders are offering. This kind of insight will give leaders a better understanding of where their employee benefits programme is and where it needs to be.
Ultimately, there’s much more at play when it comes to employee benefits and attracting talent. It comes down to how much leaders put people first before numbers - it’s as simple as that. Doing so will see some businesses sink, and others thrive!
Why better employee benefits create better teams
It’s no secret that employee perks are important to both existing and potential team members. However, what is lesser known is how wellbeing benefits offer even more for both employers and employees.
In fact, according employeebenfits.co.uk, one medical journal study from 2019 found that 69% of employees would choose one job over another if it offered better benefits.
When it comes to offering wellbeing benefits however, the statistics are even more appealing. One study found three in five (60%) of all SMEs who invested in employee wellbeing benefits noticed a vast improvement in productivity. For 22%, wellbeing benefits were recognised as business critical for productivity and performance.
The fact of the matter is that when we are happier, we are more productive. When people are empowered to look after their mental and physical health, we see better collaboration and communication in teams.
What’s more, employee perks that focus on wellbeing in the workplace also see less absenteeism and presenteeism - two issues that can strongly impact success and growth.
If leaders are to maintain positive employee engagement and retention, they must look towards wellbeing, not simply offering longer breaks, or increased pay. That’s because 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over pay, according to this Harvard Business Review article.
So, if better benefits can boost employee engagement, what else can engaged employees improve? This Gallup report found the following:
- Increase profitability by 21%
- Increase sales by 20%
- Increase productivity by 17%
- Increase customer-ratings by 10%
There’s often a misconception that employee benefits don’t make all the difference to the company itself. However, as you can see, when leaders improve employee benefits, they are enhancing other areas of their business.
Therefore, we should reconsider the term ‘employee benefits’ for something inclusive of the advantages to business growth.
Starting a strong wellbeing programme as part of a wider employee benefits strategy, doesn't come without its challenges.
After all, it requires a combination of knowledge, time and resources. That’s why we’ve covered the basics of launching an employee wellbeing programme in January here; the only guide leaders will need to begin in 2022.
Building better teams starts with better benefits, which starts with improving wellbeing in the workplace; and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, this becomes more and more a reality that HR professionals must acknowledge.
We can now safely assume that employee benefits CAN be the competitive edge businesses need for longevity, performance and happier people.
HR’s answer to future-proof employee benefits
Employee wellbeing is the new employee benefits of 2022. We see it taking on a whole new meaning for the near-future; one that promotes positive mental and physical health.
Truly understanding the wellbeing needs of any workforce requires a lot of time, resources or both.
Thankfully, Heka’s here to help! With over a 1,000 wellbeing experiences, Heka makes it so much more cost-effective and impactful when providing employees with better mental and physical health.