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over 2 years ago by Maura O'Hea

Refreshing employee benefits in 2021

Wellness 3961684 1280

2020 was an unprecedented global experiment in remote working.

The national lockdowns have meant employers (and employees) had no choice but to adapt to their new circumstances and work entirely from home. Since we’ve all been working remotely, a huge 46% of employees say the pandemic has made them question the benefits offered by their employer.

With employee benefits being a key part of attraction and retention, this is a huge wakeup call for businesses everywhere.

What trends will we see?

1. A rise in Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

The pandemic has meant more people than ever are struggling with anxiety and depression. Our more isolated world means businesses should be proactively supporting employees with their health and wellbeing.

Offering services such as free counselling for staff with personal and work-related issues will help reduce the chances of employees suffering mental-health related illnesses. Many employers are choosing to offer free subscriptions to apps like HeadSpace and Calm to help with day-to-day stress management. Benefits like this create a culture that cares.


2. Employee discounts

By no means a new trend, employee discount schemes help employees’ wages stretch further. COVID-19 has taken its toll on us all in one way or another – offering your employees ways to save money will relieve some pressure on the weekly food shop, appliances or tech.

3. Health plans

The impact of the pandemic has meant people with illnesses unrelated to COVID-19 are facing delays to treatment. Private health plans allow benefits like 24/7 GP appointments and cash-back schemes for various medical treatments, helping employees manage their health more effectively and with less stress.

4. Flexible working

Flexible working is here for the long term and is close to becoming the norm. Remote working has revealed patterns in individual employees’ productivity and motivation, and businesses are missing a trick if they don’t recognise this. Working around school drop-off and pick-up times, offering rotating shift patterns, compressed hours – there’s all sorts of ways to accommodate flexible working to get the most out of your teams.

5. Recognition

Appreciation is something we’ve all learned a lot about over the last year. Creating a culture where success is celebrated, and recognition is encouraged, means your employees will feel happier and more productive.

We use a platform called Assembly at Next Generation which offers fun culture rewards and makes recognition even more meaningful.


Making benefits fair for all

  • When deciding on new or updated benefits, there’s a few things for businesses to consider:
  • Some employees will be paying for commuting costs (and receiving season ticket loans), whereas others will have higher utility bills
  • Some employees may benefit from office perks such as a free staff canteen – others will be spending on breakfast/lunch at home
  • Gyms, wellness centres and so on don’t transfer to home environments
  • Benefits that attract younger employees may not appeal to older employees, and vice versa.


What’s the answer?

Ultimately, reward packages are about keeping employees motivated. What is it that motivates your team and keeps them from changing jobs?

The answer to which benefits to offer is simple: ASK your teams what matters to them. Tailor your benefits accordingly!


Our work lives will continue to change and evolve this year, and we’re interested to see how employers will respond.