Silly Office Perks Won’t Serve You Now
Remember when all it took for a business to be considered a great place to work was a bean bag, a breakout space with an Xbox and a vast selection of drinks and snacks?
When companies took stock of the modern employee and broke away from the rigidity of a traditional corporate image, many were guilty of opting for the material items that would appease staff, and of course, make the office an inviting and comforting place to be.
While these elements went a long way to making you an ‘employer of choice’ when it came to the environment that was created, in recent years, it became clear that employees needed more. They needed materialistic items to be underpinned with a culture that identified their individual needs and acknowledged a desire for a true work/life balance, as well as a business that was aligned with personal values and missions.
If COVID19 taught us one thing – it’s that as fun and edgy as the beanbags, onsite gyms and free-beer Friday perks were, they bring little value in the grand scheme of things, and employers can no longer rely on perks like these alone.
This rings especially true when it is still unknown when the business will all be able to come together again and enjoy these perks as a team. In fact, the Financial Times recently reported that 49% of UK based companies are planning on reducing lease space altogether.
What really matters is how you have, and can continue to, give the same level of support to your employees’ needs and desires from afar. How you have treated your team in this time is going to have implications on your employer brand and ability to hire as we navigate the ever-changing landscape.
So, what are the perks that your employees need now?
Go above and beyond when it comes to support
People need you to play an active role in their financial, physical and mental wellbeing.
These are extremely worrying times, and there will be varying degrees of response from your team. Extra, or ‘expanded’ employer support in the form of increased sick leave, financial assistance like relief funds or super flexible hours of operation to accommodate for childcare are required.
The current climate has encouraged forward-thinking employers to consider where the duty of care for employees starts and ends and have made activities that promote mental and physical wellbeing to keep employees health, a priority.
A deliberate approach to being mindful of the employee experience, treating them as PEOPLE first (and employees second) will create an inclusive and unified culture.
Recognise that change is good
It has taken a global pandemic for some businesses to finally adopt remote working.
The truth is, the modern workforce, especially millennial and Gen Z employees have been crying out for increased levels of remote working for years.
A report from Buffer released last year, found that 99% of respondents wanted to work remotely for at least some of their working hours, and 95% were also encouraging their friends, co-workers and family members to do the same.
Remote working allows for a better working/life balance and empowers employees to truly enrich their lives; no commute means time to get out into the fresh air, have a leisurely breakfast with family, or enjoy a lie-in, it also allows employees more financial freedom, a source of stress and worry for many.
So why have employers been so resistant? Fear. Fear of loss of productivity? Perhaps. Fear of loss of control is more like it. This pandemic will show to many that remote working isn’t a trend, it’s a bonafide way of working that doesn’t need to compromise output or quality of work.
Smart employers will look to incorporate remote working into their processes as the landscape settles. Gartner has found that 48% of employees will continue to work remote in some capacity after the COVID19 pandemic.
Transparency over business resilience
If there is one thing that all employees value above all else – it’s transparency. Sometimes even the most ‘fun’ workplaces are behaving in a clandestine way, creating an opportunity for doubt and uncertainty to creep in, impacting on employee happiness, motivation and output.
Employers MUST take control of this narrative to prevent a loss in productivity and damage to the employee experience.
Communication is critical right now. We are bombarded with bad news as a result of the pandemic, and the seed of doubt will be planted when it comes to our own workplaces.
It’s critical that you communicate clearly and honestly about the resilience of the business, what your employers are facing in order for them to make an information decision about what is best for them and their family.
Restructure for resilience
While I’m talking about resilience – one of the best ‘perks’ you can give your employees right now is altering the way you structure your business. We need to move from an emphasis on ‘efficiency’ to one of ‘resilience’. Resilient businesses can respond and adapt quickly, and business roles and processes should be built to increase the agility of a team.
Involve your team to do this, what would enable and empower them to become agile and responsive? They will have great ideas when it comes to diversifying and creating revenue streams, a range of perspectives and backgrounds will be your superpower in trying times.
While the beanbag was comfortable, it is now sat in your empty office, of use to no one. Take time to think about what your team truly needs from you, as humans first and employees second, and if you don’t know – ask them.