With the government no longer advising people to work from home due to the pandemic, most major businesses and organisations in the UK are planning for staff to return to workplaces this autumn.
But after 18 months away from offices, how will staff adapt to this ‘new normal’ as we emerge from the pandemic? Do employers need to offer incentives to help make the transition easier, safer and happier?
YouGov research indicates that two-thirds of firms will allow workers to do at least some of their shifts remotely, with just one-fifth of bosses requiring staff to return to offices full time.
’Hybrid working will become the norm for many,’ says Matt Smith, head of data journalism at YouGov. And while some workers are nervous about the return, others are looking forward to it.
One of the advantages of a return to work is being part of a group and working together towards shared goals while enjoying social interactions.
Younger employees, the 18-24 age group, have feared that sitting behind a laptop screen at their kitchen tables for over a year may be hindering their career progression.
They’re understandably keen to return to shared workplaces, learn from more experienced colleagues and start networking. And let’s not forget that 1 in 5 couples meet each other at work!
One proactive step employers can make when planning the restart is enhancing the positive aspects of the return to work. Employee benefits that relate to getting into the office and making it easy to lead a social, active life, will complement the ‘new normal’ lifestyle many of us will be carving out.
Mental health and new childcare arrangements are another area of focus for employees returning to offices post-pandemic.
Here are five ways that employee benefits can address concerns of employees about their return to work, and support the advantages that come with working together in a shared space.
- Cycle to work schemes
With reduced days in the office for hybrid workers, cycling into work may seem more achievable and appealing. Most office workers say they’re worried about using public transport for commuting, according to a survey published in peoplemanagement.co.uk.
The cycle to work scheme is already a hugely popular employee benefit, and could be welcomed by staff who want to avoid public transport until they feel more comfortable – while also helping them switch to a greener and healthier lifestyle.
2. Reward schemes and discounts
Employee reward schemes that recognise achievement or help employees celebrate events like birthdays and weddings help to promote a feeling of togetherness. Discount Club schemes for employees means they can do group activities like going to the cinema or visiting attractions out of work together, or simply make the most of their own time off with friends and family.
3. Gym memberships
Many people have reported getting fitter in the pandemic, with more time for walking and taking exercise. Gym membership discounts are an incentive to keep good habits going even when life gets busier after our return to the workplace. And physical exercise helps reduce stress and leads to a healthier workforce.
4. Help with childcare
Furlough and home working brought a change to many people’s childcare arrangements. Having both parents at home will have reduced the need for breakfast clubs, after-school care and some daycare; but now those may need to be reinstated. Workplace nursery benefit can save employees thousands of pounds a year, if they already spend over £1000 a month in childcare for under 5s.
5. Health and wellbeing
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says that focusing on mental health is key to the restart of life in the workplace. Some people have suffered in isolation, others may have experienced bereavement, and a proportion will wish to continue working from home to support their mental health.
Wellbeing and mental health support as an employee benefit will be more valued than ever, and should be a significant part of an organisation’s communications with staff about the return to work.
The new online programme from Enjoy Benefits will help staff members navigate through the transition from home to the workplace as we move out of the pandemic. It offers fact sheets and videos to help with sleep, emotional agility, mental health awareness, finances and nutrition.
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.