Making the switch to hybrid doesn’t just entail adjusting where or how employees work.
It also means reexamining employees’ experience — and benefits are a big part of that equation. As a result, many employers are adjusting their employee benefits for a hybrid workforce.
“It’s essential for employers to stay dialed-in, pivoting as needed, when it comes to providing benefits that employees desire and need,” says Regan Gross, an HR Knowledge Advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management. “Employees who feel that their employer recognizes and adjusts to their needs, are more engaged, more productive, loyal workers.”
Here are some ways that we’re seeing companies reimagine benefits to help hybrid employees have a better work experience both at home and in the office.
The office gets an upgrade.
With the shift to remote work, employees have had to transform their personal spaces into home offices, and employers have been supporting them with reimbursements for high-speed Wi-Fi, cell phone service, office supplies, and ergonomic furniture to enhance their home work settings.
There are an increasing number of local laws that require employers to pay for business-related expenses incurred from working at home, according to Gross, who advises that employers should consider offering this perk even if they’re not obligated to do so. You don’t want to leave employees feeling as if they got the short end of the stick, she says. Instead, companies should be supporting employees so that they have the right setup to get their work done whether they’re at home or the office on any given day.
On-site benefits become virtual.
One of the missing elements of a partly remote workforce is the social component. That’s why “many companies are … doing virtual social experiences that may include kids, pets, parents, and friends of employees,” says Danny Speros, VP of People Operations at Zenefits.
Since employees at home can’t experience on-site perks such as food, fitness classes, gyms, and social events, employers are extending their at-home counterparts, including meal delivery services, stipends for virtual happy hours, and online activities such as crafting, fitness, or DIY classes. These kinds of benefits for hybrid teams help employees stay connected even if they’re not on the premises full time.
Health and wellness are front and center.
Financial uncertainty, social isolation, increased household responsibilities — there’s no doubt that the pandemic has added more stress to everyone’s plate. “People are experiencing burnout at rates employers haven’t seen before, and being able to alleviate the pressure and help people take care of their mental and physical wellness is important,” says Speros.
In fact, 41% of workers have reported that their employers have offered new health and wealth benefits since the start of the pandemic, according to a survey from Randstad. Some companies have been subsidizing telemedicine sessions and free subscriptions to meditation, mindfulness, sleep, and other health apps such as Calm, Headspace, Fabulous, or Liberate. Other companies have implemented mental health hours that employees can take at their discretion when they need a break or are providing wellness stipends that can be used for online yoga classes, spa days, and more.
More paid time off and flexible work hours.
To boost work-life balance and to help accommodate caregiving and other personal responsibilities, employers are planning to keep flexible work options for employees beyond the pandemic. And companies are not only being more flexible, but also more generous. “Employers have been increasing the amount of paid time off they provide to employees, for both sick time and caregiving,” says Gross. “And we don’t expect this to change in the next year.”
At the end of the day, “employees are looking for more than a job description and are looking to be a part of an organization that listens to their voices, concerns, and aligns with their values,” says Speros. “These kinds of benefits are truly priceless when it comes to the loyalty and respect people can give businesses.”