At the time of writing, the UK has just entered a third national lockdown amidst the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.
Employers have already had to adapt to the ongoing crisis and change working patterns for employees – for many this has meant remote working.
This, however, creates problems not just for the business. What about the employees who miss out on social interaction and simply getting out the house?
Work is important, but it’s not all there is of course. The danger is that, stuck at home, with work to do and little opportunity for leisure, it begins to feel like life is a cycle of work and not much else.
How can workplace benefits help? How can cherry help keep employees motivated and, more importantly, just happy. How can workplace benefits create that united sense of purpose when people are spread out remotely?
Some benefits will temporarily become irrelevant. Gym membership is of little use when all the gyms are shit, similarly, a Cycle to Work scheme is of little value when few people are heading in to work.
Does this mean these benefits should simply be forgotten?
Absolutely not. They help us look ahead to brighter times. At some stage, hopefully sooner rather than later (but only when safe), restrictions will gradually lift and life will open up once more.
It is nice to look ahead to this moment. Right now, we can’t head to the gym, or cycle to work, and many wonky feel too like planning holidays. However, how great will it ben when small things we once took for granted are open once more.
Employees can be encouraged to sign up for a gym membership (with payment deferred) as it is something that speaks of a normality. Not only will they be able to head to the gym again, but it might be an opportunity to socialise (at a safe distance) with colleagues and to simply chat in person again.
The same could apply to a benefit such as the Holiday Exchange Scheme. Through this, an employee can choose to buy or sell a week’s holiday (or leave their allocation as is). Some might feel that come later 2021, they will definitely want some extra time off and so they could buy another week’s holiday now and then look ahead to when they’ll actually be able to jet off once more.
Employers might also want to consider schemes such as the Dining Card – an ability to save 50% off metals out. Again, not much use at the time of writing, but come the summer it might be pleasant to get a discounted meal out with friends or family.
The benefits – and there are many more that can be used in this way – help people to focus a little more on the longer-term rather than what may well be the stresses of the here and now.
An issue we have touched upon before is that benefits are only fully of value if they change behaviour – if they make people more active, or improve mental health.
Away from the office or workplace, how many employees are even giving much thought to employee benefits, as opposed to simply getting on with things. They might have work and homeschooling to balance and little time for much else.
Why not schedule in a chat with every employee to talk through benefits and those which might be of value to them.
Do they know about the discounted buying schemes, or services such as salary sacrifice for health care and dental care? Would a leasing programme be of help for a car or phone? If they have children, could they be taking advantage of workplace nursery provision schemes?
These conversations help to demonstrate what the business is doing to help employees, thus building loyalty and learning to greater staff motivation. It is a contact that isn’t all about the work, it is checking everyone is OK.
Working with a specialist workplace benefits provider, you can establish a way to set up this service for all employees.
Physical health might be impacted by lockdown, but it is likely that for many it is mental health that is more important to focus on.
The Employee Assistance Programme is one wonderful resource. A concern for an employee might be that if they talk through any issues with their employer they have a fear of being judged. If they admit they are struggling, will count against them in terms of future work or promotions. It shouldn’t, but this doesn’t stop people having this fear.
The EAP is wholly confidential, it is a service that enables any employee to ring or contact advisors who can offer help and support with any issue.
This could be for someone going through divorce or bereavement, or with a form of addiction. It could be for help with depression, perhaps especially important at present.
Utilising the EAP can improve productivity as it helps people deal with problems but this is secondary to its importance in simply helping people in difficult times.
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 ups 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.