Strategy & Operations » Organisations encouraged to rethink employment benefits post-pandemic

The employment landscape has shifted due to the pandemic and put pressure on finance leaders to revaluate employment benefit strategies, according to Scott Dussault, CFO at Workhuman.

“Post-pandemic, there’s no question that the working-from-home genie isn’t going back into the bottle,” he said in an email. “While remote work may no longer be viewed as a perk, companies may adjust employee benefits accordingly, swapping traditional benefits like on-site childcare, gyms and lunches for in-kind stipends and off-site alternatives.”

Flexible working has gone from a perk to a prerequisite after people were encouraged to work from home during lockdown.

Around 68 percent of organisations have said they probably or definitely will adopt a broader or more flexible working from home policy for all workers as we emerge from the pandemic, according to recent workplace survey report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

With flexible working becoming a new standard, digital transformation of the finance function is “pivotal to this change”, said Dussault.

“When it comes to technology, it’s not just the functional aspects of hybrid working that matter. Finance leaders also need to ensure they have the right systems in place to engage and connect people with co-workers and the organisation.”

Despite more employees reaping the work-from-home benefit, more than 22 percent of UK employees have had their benefit packages reduced or cut completely in the past 12 months, according to a study by borofree.

The sweet spot

For companies looking to bring costs down, many executives may perceive employee benefits as just another cost centre, said Dussault. However, “employee benefit programs that meet measurable organisational goals and make a tangible impact on employee retention, engagement and performance are the ones that will justify the investment”.

The sweet spot for values-based rewards and recognition investment is one percent or more of payroll, according to research by SHRM and Workhuman.

“Companies with this level of investment are nearly three times as likely to rate their program as excellent,” said Dussault. “In contrast, companies that don’t invest in rewards and recognition are five times more likely to rate their program as poor.”

Minck Hermans, CEO at borofree, says there will be a greater emphasis placed on financial well-being benefits as we emerge from the pandemic.

During the pandemic, 22 percent of key workers fell behind on their bills compared to 7 percent of non-key workers, according to a survey by Citizens Advice. For some, this negatively impacted their mental health and is another reason why financial wellbeing has become more important as we emerge from the crisis, says Hermans.

More than 75 percent of UK employees said they would be interested in their employers providing access to financial wellbeing support, according to the borofree report.

Consequently, benefits such as recognition and reward programs, where rewards are tied to company values, will reinforce culture and drive performance and engagement, added Dussault. “In turn, employers see significant improvement in key areas like productivity, employee turnover and job satisfaction.”

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