Covid-19: Which Workplace Benefits Are Now Crucial

How Employee Assistance Programme Can Help Employees Anxious About Returning To Work
July 20, 2020

Covid-19: Which Workplace Benefits Are Now Crucial

At Enjoy Benefits, we have huge experience in helping businesses set-up workplace benefits suitable for their employees but, to be honest, some of that experience has counted for little in the past couple of months.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought in workplace changes that would otherwise have taken years to materialise, if they had materialised at all. 

The much-talked-about, but rarely actioned move to remote working occurred in a matter of weeks and it is now questionable how many employees will ever return to full-time office-based work.

Every aspect of work has changed and so every employee’s relationship with their employer has been fundamentally altered.

The old normal is no longer fit for purpose and this applies to workplace benefits, even if they may not be a business’ top priority at these times.

In this post, we give thought to which workplace benefits may be crucial as we all adapt.

Don’t Rip Up What You Have Already

It may well be that you will need to add extra workplace benefits (and we will come on to those) but that isn’t to say you need to get rid of the ones you already have.

As an example, you may offer a scheme that makes car parking a saving against tax, while also guaranteeing a parking space near to the office. That benefit may now see take-up drop off as remote working replaces office-based working for many.

However, the benefit will still be useful for some so why remove it?

When set up properly, workplace benefits can exist in the background, they do not place an administrative burden on the employer. It doesn’t really matter if a benefit is used by only a handful of people, it is still of benefit to them.

The purpose of a suite of benefits is to ensure that there are things that will interest all – no one benefit will be suitable for everyone. That truism still applies.

Benefits For Those In The Office

There is likely to be a greater divide than has been the case previously between those working in the office and those working remotely. Some benefits will be universally beneficial, but others only of use to a certain subset.

Those working in the office still need to get in and so the Cycle To Work Scheme could be crucial. Many employees have stated that they wish to cycle to work as they look to avoid public transport and this scheme is one way to make this choice far easier.

The employee saves money on the purchase of the bike, while the employer also makes savings against their National Insurance.

We have written about this topic in previous posts – how to set up a scheme and also the danger of a disconnect between employer and employee with many employers reluctant to introduce this benefit. 

The Car Parking Season Pass and Leased Car Schemes are also likely to appeal more to those still in the office and we would also like to mention another benefit. 

The Commuter Club helps employees make significant savings if they use the Underground, rail, tram or bus to get to and from work – these savings can be up to 30%. Given the cost of public transport, this can be a saving that makes a huge difference to employees.

Benefits For Those Working Remotely

The greatest change might be for those who switch to remote working having previously spent their working week in the office. Which benefits will help them?

One we would like to champion is the Employee Assistance Programme – this is an impartial helpline and advice resource that can help employees with any issues they may be facing – debt, depression, addiction and more.

This benefit is of use to everyone but its importance could grow for those out the office, for whom there are no longer easy opportunities to have serendipitous conversations. How does an employee in these circumstances raise an issue or concern, or let their boss know they are struggling a little? 

Bringing it up in an informal chat might seem easier than firing off an email or picking up the phone to contact the boss. The EAP demonstrates that the employer cares for employees and that those out of sight are not out of mind. 

The discounted technology benefit could be of use. Employers should, of course, supply employees with the equipment required to undertake their work but many employees may want to upgrade. They might decide that, if working from home, they’re going to have a webcam better than the generic supplied one, or even decide this is the time for a laptop upgrade.

A final benefit to mention in this category is the Holiday Exchange Scheme – this benefit allows employees to either buy or sell a week’s holiday. It is clear that many will now find that the standard holiday allocation is no longer suitable, people will need more time to cover child-care, or less time as they plan fewer holidays.

The Holiday Exchange Scheme forces people to give more thought to their holiday plans, to factor in whether they need more or less. This benefits the employer too as it leads to employees booking holiday earlier and it removes the nasty surprise of people using up holiday at year-end simply because it is available.

The Key Remains Having Something For Everyone

One thing that hasn’t changed is that workplace benefits should work as a whole, in totality they should offer something for everyone.

All too often, the benefits are suited only to a certain group of employees – benefits for those who live an active life, or benefits better suited to those with a family.

The suite of benefits has to have something for everyone and also appeal to those you want to join the business. It may be, for example, that you are keen to employ talented young graduates but currently have nobody in this category. To appeal to them, you will need new benefits as the ones set-up for existing employees may be of little interest.

At Enjoy Benefits, we work with businesses and organisations of all sizes and across all sectors to help them establish a comprehensive range of benefits. 

The benefits place little administrative burden on the business and also help it to save money in tax and NI reductions.

About Us

At Enjoy Benefits, we have great experience in helping companies of all sizes introduce benefits that are suitable for their workplace. 

Benefits are easy to set up and ongoing administration is then run through a hub, this allowing employees to manage their own benefits while the employer can see which benefits are proving popular and what level of take-up each has had.

If you would like an obligation free chat to discuss which benefits might work for your business and your employees, please contact us by calling 0800 088 7315 or using our Contact Form.

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