Employers should start investing in good benefit packages for attraction and retention
Despite companies opening offices again after two years of COVID-19 lockdown for employees to return to work, many are looking into adopting a hybrid work setup that still allows employees to work remotely post-pandemic lockdown. In addition, more discussions are being held now as to what employee benefits best fit the needs and lifestyle of remote workers and whether they should have different benefits compared to employees who work on-site.
Why offer certain benefits to remote workers?
According to a recent study by career site Ladders, it is projected that 25 per cent of professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022 and will continue to increase in the following year. The study also revealed that high-paying jobs are rapidly switching to remote work, from nine per cent in 2020 to 18 per cent by the end of 2021 – with 156,000 high-paying jobs being offered remotely.
This shows that remote work is here to stay and will continue to be a big part of the workplace culture. It will remain an in-demand work arrangement, and employers should start investing in good benefits packages for the remote workforce to attract top talent and stay competitive in the industry.
Since the start of the pandemic, many employees and job applicants have paid more attention to the employment package companies offer. If it doesn’t suit their needs, it is easy for them to decide to look elsewhere. Offering a competitive employee benefits package also encourages current employees to stay with the organization.
Read more: Many workers who have returned to the office have experienced the advantages of being on-site. Others have stated that the hybrid model is optimal in the future. Still, there are workers who would go as far as quitting their job if they are asked to be back in the office full time.
Remote workers need just as much support from companies as on-site employees do. Given the different circumstances, remote workers have different needs compared to those who report to work. Companies need to start offering employee benefits customized to fit remote workers’ needs as this has the potential to boost morale and optimize the productivity of employees. Having a reasonable and competitive benefits package keeps employees happy with what they receive in return for their hard work, and enhances the remote work culture, which could be a difficult adjustment for many transitioning from on-site work arrangements.
Below are some of 2022’s most in-demand employee benefits remote workers are looking for.
11 employee benefits to offer remote workers
Employees working remotely prioritize many different employee benefits, depending on their priorities and lifestyle choices. Yet there are some common benefits a majority of remote workers are after.
Offer health and wellness programs that fit their lifestyle: The health and wellness of employees should always been a priority for both the company and the employees themselves. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no wonder health and wellness programs are one of the most sought-after employee benefits.
Despite employees working remotely, it is still possible for companies to offer support when it comes to taking care of their overall wellbeing. For example, companies can provide virtual gym memberships or vouchers for a fitness center with local branches, making them accessible for remote workers. Employers can also offer discounts for healthy food delivery subscriptions to help remote workers maintain a balanced diet.
It is also important to take care of remote workers' mental and psychological health since working alone and far away from other co-workers can be stressful and lonely. Companies can offer online employee assistance programs (EAPs) so employees can still stay physically and mentally fit in the comfort of their homes.
Fund their professional development: Employees value their career growth and development – something that companies benefit from greatly. Investing in employees and their growth is a great way for companies to ensure their workforce stays competitive and the goods and services they provide clients are of high quality.
Providing opportunities for employees to develop, such as training seminars, workshops, mentorship, tuition reimbursement, and new job openings, entices them to join the company and make them motivated enough to stay and perform better, knowing the organization is willing to invest in their personal development.
Set up tools that will help employee recognition and appreciation: Even if they do not report to work in person, remote workers deserve recognition and rewards from the company just as much as onsite workers. When employers show appreciation for the work their employees produce, it makes employees feel seen and appreciated by the company – making them more motivated to keep up their performance for more rewards and recognition.
Employers can show appreciation for their employees in many ways. They can give employee shoutouts during meetings, town halls, email blasts, and even during quick standup meetings. Offering small tokens of appreciation such as gift vouchers, small gift baskets, and monetary gifts can go a long way in motivating employees.
Run team building events: Communication and relationship building is important for remote workers to feel engaged despite working virtually. Employers can find it challenging to promote a strong company culture virtually for employees who have different working environments. Still, companies need to be proactive in developing and maintaining an online work environment to keep employees satisfied and competitive.
Companies can hold virtual meetings for employees to get to know each other and form connections through fun team-building activities. It is best to schedule regular virtual appointments such as team lunch-outs, happy hours, and other social events that any other onsite employee would do as well. This helps lessen the feeling of isolation that remote work creates and makes employees feel more involved with the company and the workforce.
Provide access with tech and tools: Remote workers rely heavily on technology and the tools they use to work and to communicate with the team. These include the wifi they use, the multiple software and paid source sites that help them get their jobs done, and the apps that smooth out communication between co-workers.
Allowing employees easy access to these apps and software helps employees to work faster and more efficiently. Employers can go beyond offering premium software by creating a dedicated space with all the needed information for employees. Companies can have different channels dedicated to specific teams and even new employees where they can share and regularly update information relevant to their roles. Providing this significantly helps the workflow of employees and also minimizes redundant questions managers and leaders receive constantly.
Give them home office improvement allowance: Having access to relevant software and apps is not enough for remote workers to produce high-quality output. Offering the necessary equipment they need – such as basic computer equipment with updated specs – can go a long way. The perk shows employees that the company is not afraid to invest in them so they can produce excellent products and services.
Companies can go beyond the essential equipment needed and offer an allowance for employees to purchase additional home office furniture and equipment that may help them feel more comfortable with their working spaces. Office chairs, new work desks, PC accessories, and other desk furnishings such as a study lamp are the usual items remote workers purchase if given the allowance perk.
Offer service/volunteer hours: A benefit employees look forward to is extra time off to participate in volunteer efforts and charity activities. The benefit allows employees the flexibility to create a work-life balance lifestyle with the company. It encourages employees to explore volunteering and outreach activities that may be of interest to them.
In addition, employees can reward top-performing employees by offering charitable donations under the names of their chosen charity or organization. In this way, employees feel valued by the company while feeling satisfied that the company goes above and beyond to help communities and multiple advocacies.
Provide unlimited paid time off: Remote workers need paid time off just as much as any other employee – if not more – despite not having to report to the office for work. One of remote workers’ main challenges is to separate work from personal life, as their place of rest is also their place of work.
Offering remote workers unlimited vacation leave or creating a program that provides top-performing and loyal employees additional or unlimited vacation leave credits can make the company stand out from other competitors.
Give mental health support: Taking care of the mental well-being of employees is vital, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on mental health and burnout. Companies need to start providing adequate mental health training and sessions both virtually and in person for all employees. There are many EAPs that companies can offer their workforce who need support and a safe space to share and vent out emotions.
Helping employees take care of their mental health ensures they can work at their best and minimize stress and burnout from their work responsibilities. In addition, it strengthens the trust employees feel for the company.
Read more: 37 per cent of workers feel unsafe to talk about mental health at work, according to a report from Sun Life.
Give goodies to your remote workers: Remote workers would appreciate and feel a part of the workforce if they received a gift basket from the company. It can be given as a reward for employees and on special occasions such as Christmas and welcome gifts.
T-shirts, notepads, ID laces, and other small useful merchandise are great items to include in the pack. Gift baskets are a great way to create remote team connections and engagement.
Offer flexible hours: One of the most sought-after benefits remote workers look for is the option for a flexible work schedule. Many remote workers prioritize work-life balance, and having the opportunity to choose what time they work supports their working habits and their goal to make time for the things necessary to them.
Allowing flexible time schedules for employees also will enable them to produce the best output they can at their best work schedule. So long as employees are reaching their deadlines and fulfilling their responsibilities on time, there is no reason why remote workers should not be given the option to for a flexible schedule.
Read more: “Flexible” can mean a lot more than just working from home, according to two experts who spoke with Canadian HR Reporter.
There are many other benefits that companies could offer remote workers – but what works for one company may not work for another. Employers need to conduct their own research and listen to their employees on which benefits work best for their workforce.