In our 2020 research paper What Tech Candidates Want, we discovered that a benefits package is commonly in the top five reasons for a technologist choosing to move on from their existing role. In our research, we also discovered that an improved work / life balance and flexible working patterns were the fifth highest reasons for someone looking to move to a new role or being attracted to a new role. This research was released just at the brink of the pandemic, with the data being collected over three months prior and I wanted to explore how this landscape had changed since the pandemic, along with what we are seeing in the employee benefits space as a response to this.
Firstly, and a bit of a no-brainer, flexibility and home working are now firmly within candidate expectations as opposed to being seen as a ‘nice to have’. Technology candidates in particular are now more likely to be shocked if flexible and remote working are not included within a new job opportunity.
When we released What Tech Candidates Want in early 2020, job security was only considered extremely important for 47% of permanent talent in a role and 12% of people didn’t even consider it important. As the job market returns to normal (and in the case of tech, boom), the scars of the pandemic have caused a more pessimistic outlook as candidates feel more vulnerable to sudden and dramatic life changes. As a result of this, (according to a recent survey by Hooray Health and Protection), income protection, health insurance and life insurance are now amongst the most desirable benefits.
In fact, the survey found that 44% of respondents who are not satisfied with their current benefits feel that having an improvement in these three benefits would have a high impact on company morale. Anecdotally, we previously saw that these types of benefits were seen as important by candidates but were often lacking in significance when compared to free lunches and a ‘pick your own kit’ policy.
But that’s not to say that technology isn’t still a compelling offer to candidates in the benefits marketplace. With candidates increasingly set to work from home a lot more in the future, we are seeing a real emphasis on technology discounts and provisions to help employees create their own dream office at home. Combined with opportunities to socialise with colleagues either virtually or through hybrid working and effective and on-demand L&D, organisations that have been able to switch on this offering quickly will benefit compared to those offering retail or leisure vouchers (although we may well see a surge in popularity for these as normal life kick starts again).
The next trend in the marketplace is wellbeing and organisations are now taking an active role in building benefits packages to help assist with ensuring the wellbeing of their people. But this isn’t just being driven by organisations wanting to take care of their staff; ‘The Joe Wicks’ effect and less time commuting during the pandemic has driven us towards exercise like never before. This has seen a huge increase in demand for cycle-to-work schemes, discounted gym membership, online fitness streaming and fitness classes.
This increased demand for physical fitness is part of the larger drive for overall wellbeing and organisations are responding through the utilisation of digital platforms such as Virgin Pulse. In fact, digital healthcare and wellbeing is part of a wider digitisation of employee benefits, which leads us nicely onto our next point.
Employee benefits have not escaped digital transformation, and the pandemic has accelerated the need for people to be able to access and benefit from their benefits, no matter where they are based in the country. We are seeing this accelerating further within the digital health space with online counselling and doctors’ appointments now becoming more commonplace.
What do we expect to see in the next 12 months?
In the next 12 months I don’t expect to see a huge revolution for employee benefits, but more of an evolution and increased push in the current direction of travel:
- Wellbeing schemes will continue to become a core part of the employee benefits offering, with further digitisation, not just in this space but in the whole employee benefits arena.
- 'Security Benefits’ such as healthcare and life insurance will remain a core element of employee benefits and may actually continue to rise in value as well as remaining widely offered by organisations.
- Flexible benefits packages will become increasingly popular as organisations and vendors attempt to cater for the multi-generational workforce and more diverse working locations.
- Organisations will attempt to communicate more with existing and prospective workers about the value of their benefits package – for too many, communication is the largest inhibitor of gaining engagement from employee benefits.
- The ‘status quo’ of 25 days’ holiday per year may become more flexible and be challenged as people demonstrate a greater desire to achieve more work life / balance and make different lifestyle choices than previously.
- Maternity and paternity offerings will continue to vary hugely between organisation to organisation.
- Highly creative benefit schemes will continue to remain in the realm of growth organisations who are competing with larger and more established organisations for talent.
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