While one of the major workplace trends is that employees increasingly value workplace benefits, even seeing these as more important than salary change, there is an under-discussed element to this shift.
Much is made of adding in more workplace benefits and creating a suite that offers plenty for every type of person.
As experts in workplace benefit provision, we naturally encourage and help companies to do just this. Popular benefits including discounted gym membership, discount clubs, leasing offers, holiday exchange schemes, healthcare insurance, cycle to work, workplace nursery provision and so much more.
However, simply adding ever more benefits won’t necessarily be a success of itself.
Employees have to be aware of the benefits, they have to understand the benefit, they have to see it as worthwhile, but there is still one more important step.
They need to feel encouraged to sign up.
Rightly or wrongly, some employees will feel the benefits are a box-ticking exercise. Worse still, there is evidence that some worry that signing up for certain benefits will actually count against them.
This mindset was outlined in a fascinating recent post on Forbes, who looked at the pressures on working parents.
The pressures were of course ramped up during 2020 as we all tried to balance work with lockdown and, for many, family life that incorporated home schooling and child care.
Most employers actually emerge with credit, as they were understanding of how difficult a balance this could be and so were accommodating. There was perhaps far greater acceptance of family life by the end of 2020 than was the case going into the year.
Perhaps the mindset shifted towards – as long as people are getting work done, then that’s good enough.
The pressure, Forbes suggests, is a desire to be seen as an ‘ideal employee’ whilst also trying to be an ‘ideal parent’. The two were hard to have together – being an ideal worker might mean focussing less on the kids and vice versa.
The danger, therefore, is that any employee signing up for benefits that are linked to family time fears this counts against them in the long run. The benefit is there, but the boss doesn’t really want anyone to be using it – that’s the fear.
Regardless of whether the company does have this mindset, the problem exists if employees imagine this to be the case.
What needs to happen is for businesses to be very open that people should use the benefits – that they are encouraged to.
There is no singular way to achieve this, but perhaps it stems from messaging and the impression employees have of the business. How are benefits framed – just in passing in a staff email, or talked about with enthusiasm?
Do senior managers speak openly about the benefits they have used, thus demonstrating that they are truly there to be used? In appraisals, are workplace benefits mentioned – have you thought about using any of them, we’re really trying to make like a bit easier for everyone. Have a look, and get back to me if any seem of interest.
As Forbes are so smart to notice, the balance has shifted from people trying to juggle their life in quiet to it being accepted that we are all just trying to juggle all manner of plates.
The ideal of perfection has, thankfully, been shot down. Everyone needs a bit of help.
The benefits of this approach can be huge too.
For existing employees, it shows the company cares. This leads to greater motivation and staff retention, it also just leads to a better work-life balance and makes people that bit happier. That’s a pretty big win of itself.
Longer term, it also helps to recruit talented newcomers. While Forbes focus on the US, the trends apply to the UK too. Many parents, and perhaps especially mums, are feeling forced out of the workplace, this because they feel unable to meet unfair expectations to juggle all elements of their lives.
A business well set up to help people juggle the aspects of their lives is going to be a very appealing one to join.
Getting it Right
At Enjoy Benefits we are experts in workplace benefits – both the benefits themselves and then also working with you to encourage staff to sign up and use benefits that help them and, in so doing, the business too.
We have helped businesses and organisations across all sectors and of all sizes.
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.