While the world of work will continue to evolve, it is clear that employee benefits will be a key part of the armoury to strengthen the relationship between businesses and their employees.
It is therefore crucial for companies to stay on top of the latest trends in this area.
Four-day working week
Several companies have trialled a four-day working week without salary cuts. Advantages of this concept include improved wellbeing, better focus, and fairer sharing of childcare between men and women, according to research. However, this approach might not be suitable for every role and sector. Disadvantages may include a widening of the gap between flexible homeworking professionals and front-line “always on” staff. Furthermore, improved productivity may not cover the potential increased cost. Also, employees may have to work longer hours in four days to compensate for one free day. Shorter working hours distributed across five days could be an alternative option worth considering.
While hybrid working has become a reality for most office workers, employers are still debating how an office can best supplement the working from home environment. Questions revolve around shifting from fixed desks to hotdesking, offering multiple types of ambients suiting different needs, from individual/noise cancelling pods to large and adaptable seating ensembles. Furthermore, companies are developing guidelines and rules for their employees in a hybrid working setup to avoid potential conflicts.
Flexible working hours
This has been tested during the pandemic when many employees had to juggle several tasks at once such as teaching children at home during working hours. While this option may not be suitable across the board, it can work in some areas and on an individual basis if agreed with the line manager.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
Inaction in this area can cause serious damage to a company’s reputation. Consequently, the business may struggle to attract and retain talent. Research shows that diverse teams lead to greater innovation. Some of the areas that are currently trending around DE&I include neurodiversity, fertility, male and female specific health (menopause/andropause), maternity/paternity/adoption policies.
Flexible bank holidays
As part of the diversity and inclusion initiatives, employers are considering offering flexibility as to when staff can take bank holidays (opens a new window), recognising different religious events (swapping Western New Year’s Day for the Chinese or Jewish New Year’s Day for example).
Working from a location of choice
If employees are not required to work from the office, does their preferred location matter? While the time zone difference is certainly a contentious topic for some jobs, several companies have decided that location matters. Consequently, they have introduced salary cuts for employees whose distance from their official office exceeds certain thresholds. The pay cut is supposed to reflect the different cost of living.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental and physical health. As a result, an increasing number of new digital applications is available on the market for employers wanting to support their staff. Wellness technology will remain important as we settle for a hybrid working environment. Identifying the most powerful ones may be a challenge, but a few simple questions (opens a new window) can serve as a guide for the selection process.
Electric vehicle salary sacrifice scheme
Electric vehicles are trendy as they are perceived as an environmentally friendlier option than their combustion engine powered peers. Offering them to staff through salary sacrifice can be particularly attractive to the Generation Z (birth years mid-to-late 1990s to early 2010s), but will generally fit into a company’s ESG strategy. An electric vehicle salary sacrifice scheme lets an employee pay for an electric car each month using their gross salary, e.g., before tax and other contributions are deducted.
Financial wellness support
Rising inflation is expected to depress the population’s purchasing power. Any help to reduce the financial stress is likely to positively impact an employee’s mental health and improve their performance at work. Support can come in many forms, from generic recommendations to reduce expenses to individual advice for debt restructuring.
For further information, please contact:
Andrew Simpson, Vice President Employee Benefits