Understatement of the year: COVID-19 has forever impacted how, when, and where employees work. Here at Carex, we saw employers — many of whom we’ve been working with for years — navigate the shift from 100% onsite to 100% remote in a matter of days. While in the beginning, many thought productivity would dip, or work and initiatives would suffer, the opposite happened: productivity flourished, and many employees loved the flexibility working from home provided. Now, many of them are making the shifts permanent, and with that, they’re also looking at post-COVID employer benefits.
A recovering economy is causing many employees to leave their employers for new opportunities (something many of you might be experiencing!). As a result, employers need to remain competitive by attracting and retaining talent, who will have expansive employment options. Expanding benefits is one way to keep your current employees — and new hires — happy and engaged. Our CEO Rachel Neill recently wrote a piece for HR Daily Advisors where she suggests five post-COVID employer benefits that will most resonate with employees, and we thought we’d sum them up here:
- Ergonomic Workstations & Work-from-Home Allowances: As the move to the home office continues, employers are offering home-centric benefits like expanded reimbursement policies for office supplies, printers, and laptops, home Internet service, office furniture, high-quality webcam and microphone set-ups, and other supplies that make remote working more productive. Another idea: offer periodic employer-covered food delivery to mimic “free lunch Fridays” and other in-office perks.
- Student Loan Reimbursement: Student loan debt has increased more than twofold over the last 20 years, and at the end of last year, U.S. borrowers owned approximately $1.7 trillion in student loans. This is a huge competitive differentiator that shows you care about your employees’ financial health.
- Flexible Work Hours: Remote work changed the “where” for employees — but didn’t always adjust the “when,” as many were still expected to follow traditional working hours in the midst of taking care of their families. As remote working becomes standard practice, employees will desire flexible hours, giving them time to pick their kids up from school or go to a doctor’s appointment without having to take time off.
- Mental & Physical Health Offerings: COVID-19 sparked a movement for mental health awareness and treatment, as the pandemic caused isolation and depression. It also opened people up to discussions about mental health, and many employers are stepping into providing free or discounted access to therapists and mental health apps as part of their broader workplace health programs.
- Pet Insurance: All of the new pet owners in 2020 and 2021 know what we’re talking about, as people who were under stress and stuck at home looked to adopt pets at an accelerated rate. Pet insurance is a perk especially attractive to Millennial hires, who comprise the largest pet-owning demographic and are willing to spend significant sums on their dogs.
Companies that are making an effort to think about post-COVID employer benefits show they’re responsive to the new cultural and professional reality— and this empathetic approach will pay dividends in employee retention. If you’d like to have a conversation with our team about some of the other things we’re seeing and hearing when it comes to employer benefits, give us a shout! We’re happy to share what we’ve learned.