October 05, 2022 by Andrea Rajic
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For many companies worldwide, benefits programs are essential tools for helping talent acquisition, employee retention, and employee experience. However, not all benefits are equally valuable for employees; this article will cover the perks distributed, hybrid, and remote teams want most and why.
Employee benefits and perks serve several purposes. The first one is to help the company attract the best talent, which means it needs to position the employer as competitive compared to other companies.
The second purpose of benefits is to help retain existing employees. Perks and benefits achieve this by enhancing the workers' feelings of appreciation, belonging, and satisfaction.
Finally, benefits help employees achieve a good work-life balance, reduce financial and other uncertainty, and enhance their health and wellbeing. Healthy and happy employees are more loyal, productive, and engaged at work.
The time when companies offered perks such as bean bag chairs and ping pong tables is finally coming to an end. Instead, employees, particularly remote and distributed ones, are looking for more substantial perks.
When we talk about distributed teams, perks and benefits have a new purpose: to help employees bond even though they don't see each other daily. So it's essential for HR and People Operations managers to know which perks their remote teams want most — apart from good pay and health insurance.
Here’s what we hear the most when talking to industry experts, our customers, and remote workers around the globe:
It’s hard to ignore that post-pandemic, flexible work is the undisputed #1 perk employees are asking for. Flexible work schedules allow people to work when they are most productive and find more time for caretaking, parenting, and personal appointments.
For some people, not having a 9-5 schedule helps with anxiety and makes them more engaged and productive. Flexibility is essential to employees when it comes to location, too. Hybrid and remote work is on the rise precisely because employees realized they could do large chunks of their work offsite, liberating them from long commutes and desk-bound days.
Access to flexible spaces comes right after flexibility on the list of in-demand perks for distributed teams. In a 2021 study by Microsoft, 70% of workers said they want remote jobs to remain an option, while 65% want to see their colleagues more in person.
Offering employees a hybrid work model and access to remote workspaces enables them to keep the upsides of connecting, collaborating, and working face to face while still being flexible. In addition, flex spaces are an excellent solution for employees with less than ideal home office setups, lack of privacy and focus at home, or need to attend a team meeting once or twice a week. Heading to a coworking space or meeting room nearby to work together with colleagues goes a long way in keeping remote workers engaged.
To some, company swag as a perk may sound unimportant, but remote workers love it. For starters, companies that send out swag packages as part of the onboarding process see an uptick in excitement and engagement for the new role.
With remote teams, something as simple as a swag bundle helps them feel a sense of belonging and welcome into the team, which means a lot when you don’t get to see coworkers in an office on your first day. Additionally, sending regular swag packages boosts the excitement of your team members — everyone loves gifts and freebies, right?
Next on the list of the most sought-after employee benefits are home office stipends and budgets. Unfortunately, hybrid and remote employees who work from home at least partially don't have a standardized work environment; these vary based on their living arrangements, WiFi speed, desk setups, and so much more.
Companies shouldn’t rely on employees to set up their optimal work environment. Instead, they should invest in the desks, chairs, and other home office supplies employees need to complete their work. From a company standpoint, the expenses are well worth it, and employees will have one less thing to worry about — and spend money on.
Along with home office stipends come hardware and equipment budgets, a perk many companies haven't adopted yet. So whether your remote workforce is in one or 20 cities, companies must provide them with essential tools.
These tools include computers, extra monitors, headphones, printers, video conferencing lighting, and all other peripherals. Providing equipment for employees has security implications, too. If employees are handling customer data and using their personal computers for work, the company may be opening itself to compliance and security risks, all of which can be resolved by supplying workers with equipment.
The single most-wanted perk for parents working remote jobs is help with childcare. During the pandemic, we’ve seen employees struggling to navigate full-time work and childcare simultaneously. To help alleviate these issues, companies can offer to cover part of the costs, like daycare expenses or babysitting.
This perk is equally needed and appreciated by in-office employees, making it an essential addition to every company’s benefits package.
Investing in the physical and mental well-being of employees never goes out of style. With workplace issues like burnout, remote work isolation, and the inability to log off looming around, you'll want to ensure you have your people covered.
On the other hand, knowledge workers spend ungodly hours every day at their desks, so their necks, backs, and overall fitness can suffer. Offering gym memberships, yoga classes, or reimbursement for fitness equipment can encourage employees to be healthier and happier.
Introducing wellness programs that encourage employees to connect, practice self-care, and exercise more is a much better choice than the old ping pong tables. They help employees live healthier lives and give a better ROI to employers.
It's a strange benefit to have on this list, but here it is - paid time off. Taking vacations, holidays, and off days is critical to every employee’s wellbeing and performance.
A company culture that relies on presenteeism and working long hours encourages exhaustion and increases the chance of burnout. It can be tricky for hybrid and remote employees to log off from work, so managers must encourage PTO and lead by example.
Bonus tip: If you’re implementing an unlimited PTO policy, don’t just announce it and leave it to employees to use. Make sure managers check in on workers who don’t use off days and remind them they should take time to rest and recharge.
Gifts and acknowledgments for special occasions are another way to make employees feel seen and taken care of. Getting a birthday voucher, work anniversary card, or gift for a newborn baby can go a long way in making employees feel happy and appreciated.
It’s one of those remote employee perks that don’t cost the company much but can influence how employees feel and bump their engagement and satisfaction levels.
When asked about why they switch jobs, respondents in a recent study cited the lack of career growth and development as one of the main reasons. And it’s easy to see why employees aren’t happy being stuck in a position offering no progression path.
A professional development program is one of the best incentives companies can offer to attract and retain top talent. Apart from an actionable plan that employees can follow to grow, companies should also invest in improvement budgets and offer access to online courses, conference reimbursements, and other allocations for employees to use.
An excellent benefits package for remote workers can include covering the costs of apps and subscriptions employees use every day, like Netflix, Amazon, or Spotify. The costs for streaming services and other tech subscriptions can mount up quickly, and it’s a nice gesture for companies to pick up the tab for employees.
Companies sometimes offer budgets for coffee or food subscriptions, meal plans, or even monthly pet toys and equipment bundles.
Even though they are not on-site, remote employees do just as much hard work and need to relax occasionally. The best way to do that is to organize a team building event and set aside time for bonding and fun.
Whether it’s a Slack quiz, a Zoom trivia night, or an in-person event, remote companies need to enable employees to get to know each other better, connect, and enjoy activities unrelated to work.
In the age of burnout, anxiety, and the inability to achieve healthy work-life balance, mental health initiatives are a game-changer for remote employees. As a result, some companies alter their insurance plans to include mental health support in their work perks, and workers seem to appreciate it.
Mental health is a vital aspect of employee wellness. Employees with access to helpful resources and programs tend to stay longer in the company, talk openly about their mental health, and overcome mental health challenges more easily.
Whichever perks from this list you choose, ask employees what they need and keep track if they use your benefit offerings. The goal of benefits programs isn’t to splurge blindly but to provide perks employees genuinely need, use, and love, to make them happier at work, more productive, and loyal to the company.
Foster connections in your remote team
Cater to employees’ needs and give them flexibility without burdening your workload. Provide workspaces, set budgets and policies, and track usage and trends to stay in the loop.