Remember back in 2018 or 2019 when we all thought having a slide or a ping pong table in the office was the height of coolness? We envied our friends at Google who could retreat to their aquarium room for a bit of R&R in the middle of the day, or those at Facebook in Palo Alto who could mix a few tunes on the office's DJ decks on a Tuesday at 11 am.
But, are the days of office-centric perks like that gone? With the nature of the workday changing so drastically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, employee benefits are being put under the microscope. Companies far and wide are shifting to a hybrid or fully remote working model, and as a result, are asking themselves what kinds of perks will employees really benefit from and need in this new reality.
Perks make the employee experience what it is
Before launching into a list of the best perks out there, it's important to understand why they matter so much. The benefits package that you offer employees is often the defining factor for jobseekers when choosing between one role or another. Company benefits like paid health insurance, time off, comfortable parental leave for new parents, daycare, and even sometimes student loan repayment form the basis of a comprehensive employee benefits package.
Employee perks also play a significant role in setting up and consolidating your company culture. This is, in large part, what attracts top talent from around the world and works towards guaranteeing long-term employee satisfaction. Even small things like offering healthy snacks at the office or setting up sustainability incentive programs are what set your company culture apart from others.
Now that we're transitioning to a post-pandemic world, it's important to take a look at the perks that make your company culture what it is and reevaluate them. What kinds of perks are going to best serve your teams in a hybrid or remote world?
8 best employee benefits for hybrid and remote work
1. Set employee mental health as a top priority
With 2020 being coined by McKinsey as "the great exhaustion", burnout affected employees this year more than any other. With the increasing prevalence of remote work since the pandemic, employees reported feelings of exhaustion, isolation, an inability to disconnect from work, and even imposter syndrome.
Putting your employee's mental health at the heart of your benefits program will change your organization for the better. Giving them the tools to take care of their mental well-being themselves is an incredible perk they'll all appreciate.
At TravelPerk, for example, our employees all have access to iFeel—a platform that connects individuals with trained psychologists through videoconferencing. It's a great tool that gives our teams an outlet to speak to a professional, with complete and total confidentiality.
2. Don't forget about physical wellness
Much like you need to take care of the mind, you also need to empower employees to care for their bodies. We spend about 10 hours a day sitting in the same position. Sitting for so long can raise the risk of heart disease, undo all the hard work we do at the gym and raise the odds of diabetes and weight gain.
That's why subsidizing some kind of wellness program for your employees is such a great benefit to give them. The amount of time we spent sitting skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, and it's high time we started moving again.
Companies around the world are starting to offer employees benefits like gym memberships or subscriptions to apps like GymPass. Microsoft, for example, offers employees an $800 monthly stipend to spend on gyms and weight management programs. Salesforce also encourages employees to use their well-being stipend on regular massages!
3. Give flexible working hours a try
It can be very easy to get carried away with a task or meetings and not even realize that it's 8 pm and you're still connected to your work computer. Especially in a hybrid work environment. Giving employees flexible schedules to determine their own work hours is one of the best job perks you can give them to encourage a healthy work-life balance.
By giving employees flexible hours, they can find time during the day to work out, spend some time with their families, or walk their dogs. They can then come back to their workstation and finish the day's tasks. The autonomy to set their own work schedules will increase productivity and motivation—not to mention that it'll give them time to enjoy the other health benefits you offer them!
Dell, for example, has the concept of flexible work fully engrained in its company culture. In fact, the company's Director of Global Human Resources said that "Our value proposition is clear and simple: To enable our team members to do their best work regardless of where and when."
4. Negotiate special rates for entertainment services
Perks don't just have to be about wellbeing or retirement plans. They can also be a little more fun! As people were sent home for lockdowns in early 2020, some companies decided to help their employees pass the time outside of their working hours... By paying for entertainment services!
Employees at IE University, for example, enjoyed 3 months of HBO subsidized by the company throughout Spain's grueling quarantine period. You could do something similar at your company by offering employee discounts on gaming services or streaming platforms like HBO or Netflix. Now that's the kind of thing that will make your retention rates rocket through the roof!
5. Provide a home office budget
Work from home is an option for many professionals these days, even if it's not full-time. For the days that you have employees working remotely, it's important to ensure they have the right equipment and a comfortable setup as they work.
Providing employees with extra screens, quality gadgets, and an ergonomic chair is... well... the least you can do. Especially in a hybrid working environment, employees need to be able to transition from home office to office space seamlessly. They also need to have a work environment that is conducive to work and productivity. You can help them achieve that by helping them set up the perfect home office—whether that's by sending them the tools you believe they'll need or allocating a specific budget for them to set it up themselves.
For example, Shopify and Twitter give remote or hybrid employees $1000 to set up their home offices.
6. Be generous with the vacation time you offer
If you're thinking "we don't need to give hybrid employees more vacation time... they're already at home!"—then stop. We're not suggesting you give them unlimited vacation (although some pretty cool companies worldwide are doing that, like Netflix, LinkedIn, and Hubspot), but to understand that fatigue and burnout are just as prevalent, if not more so, in a remote office.
Being generous with paid time off is one of the best perks your employees will appreciate the most. Everyone needs (and deserves!) time to recharge their batteries when they need to. The world of work can be tiring and stressful for many, so having ample time to rest is fundamental for your employee's mental and physical health. Not to mention that a well-rested employee is more creative, productive, and motivated.
In the summer of 2021, TravelPerk gave all employees an extra week off on top of their vacation days! This time off was to be dedicated to really disconnecting from work and technology to properly refuel our engines and get ready for the next phase of our company's growth. And guess what? We LOVED it. And we're more motivated than ever.
7. Give employees the opportunity to do some good
Companies worldwide are giving employees "volunteer time"—one or two days a year to dedicate to volunteering and charity work. That can be independently organized volunteer time or participating in volunteering initiatives organized by the company itself.
Colgate-Palmolive, for example, has its Colgate Cares Day where teams from around the world participate in service projects to make their local communities happier and healthier. Patagonia gives all its employees the opportunity to participate in projects that have a positive environmental impact. With the world having undergone a global health crisis, your people should be given the opportunity to give back on company time.
8. Build a culture more accepting of taking sick days
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, many people felt a stigma to call in sick and stay home. As we come out of the global health crisis, one of the many lessons we learned was to put our health and wellbeing in first place.
This is something that should be reflected by companies through healthcare initiatives like generous, paid sick leave. This is increasingly becoming the norm around the world, however, there is still some holdout within organizations.
... And there you have it! Just a quick overview of some of the best perks you can give employees in a hybrid working environment. Is your company offering any new and exciting work perks for this new way of working? Let us know!
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