The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, more than any other incident in history, highlighted the importance of employee benefits in the workplace. Previously considered a “frivolous” bonus, it is now critical to recruiting and maintaining personnel.
In the UK, employee benefits are classified into mandatory and supplementary life benefits. These benefits improve employees’ perceptions of the value of their services and increase trust in their employers.
A study from Cezanne HR, a cloud-native HR company, proved this strong pandemic impact in a survey of 750 UK employees when comparing their results with data from 2018. It raises the following questions
How has COVID impacted UK workplace benefits?
The pandemic has brought attention to the significance of people in company performance, and employee benefits expenditures reflect this.
More companies than ever before have prioritized their responsibility of care to employees throughout the pandemic, mitigating the physical and emotional health hazards they confront, whether at home or work.
Employers’ priorities have shifted to include mental wellness and financial security. Better employee benefits assisting workers in balancing their holistic requirements by addressing emotional, physical, social, economic, and environmental issues that all contribute to their overall wellbeing.
Instead of reducing key benefits, many organizations are striving to improve them.
Which benefits are now declared the most important in 2021 compared to 2018?
There’s a drastic shift in the priority of employee benefits, which has come from the pandemic effect. The low-placed benefits of 2018 are now of high importance. We take a look at some changes.
In the United Kingdom, the survey showed employees considered enhanced leave the utmost priority as they perceived this benefit to be more critical now than in 2018.
Enhanced leave is designed to give long-serving employees the chance to do something they wouldn’t be able to do on their regular annual holiday. Most employees felt they needed this benefit to be reviewed and placed as a top priority.
The pandemic left much staff on the brink of losing their jobs, and those fortunate enough to keep theirs had a lot of nerve-racking decisions on their mental health and physical wellbeing.
Companies considering their employees’ wellbeing and mental health modified their enhanced leave benefits to suit the priority of their employees.
Improved Health Care Assess
In 2018, healthcare was considered a top priority, but in 2021 it dropped to second place. This is due to the pandemic and measures put in place by the government.
Notwithstanding the slight drop, it is still considered essential as employees hope for better access to NHS.
The National Health Service (NHS) is a UK government-funded healthcare system that anyone residing in the country can utilize without paying the total cost of care. It sponsors the following:
- seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a doctor
- If you are ill or injured, seek treatment in a hospital.
- Obtaining immediate assistance from medical personnel who operate in the ambulance service
Easy access to NHS has been affected by the rising cases of infection, difficulty in hospital admission, and increasing costs.
In light of the NHS’s present strains and longer wait times, an increasing number of employers are considering private healthcare options to ensure that their employees have quick access to healthcare advice and treatment when they need it most.
This outlook by employers is an adaptation to the modified priorities of employees’ health care benefits.
Ranked 7th in the survey of 2018, career development ranked 3rd in the recent study. This change in priority could be based on the adaptations of jobs to remote settings due to the pandemic.
Employees saw the need for their employers to improve this benefit as most found it challenging to adjust to the remote work life.
Employers have launched career development programs that connect the organization’s continuing training and development strategies with employees’ career goals. This career development program is tailored to match the firm’s specific objectives and expectations.
Flexible working wasn’t considered in the 2018 survey; however, this was included in the 2021 survey list of benefits employees found important.
Flexible working refers to a form of work arrangement in which employees control how long, where, when, and when they work.
Working practices that are flexible include:
- Working part-time: When an employer agrees to work fewer than full-time hours, this is part-time work.
- Term-time employment: a person is employed permanently but has the option of taking paid or unpaid time off during the school year.
- Job-sharing is part-time labor in which two (or sometimes more) persons share responsibility for a job.
- Employees can select when they want to start and stop working as long as they stay inside defined parameters.
- Compressed working weeks (or fortnights) don’t always imply a reduction in overall hours or an increase in individual control over which hours are worked.
This benefit gained popularity with the adjusted work schedules as a result of the COVID pandemic.
What benefits do employees want now?
Employees differed on what benefits they wanted now. Age and gender played a considerable role in this difference.
Fifty-four plus-year-olds viewed healthcare as a top priority, while 18-24-year-olds viewed enhanced leave as a top priority.
Female employees viewed enhanced leave as the most vital benefit while the male employees voted healthcare and insurance as their immediate necessity.
Despite these differences, data showed that the list below is of top priority in 2021
- Enhanced Leave
- Healthcare and Insurance
- Flexible working
- Career Development
- Social wellbeing.
Employees are the foundation of a company’s success. Failure of employers to recognize the changes employees want to their benefit structure will lead to inefficiencies and failure to thrive.
Employers need to adapt to the ever-changing workplace reality.
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