Updating Benefits and Perks in the Remote Era

Sep 22, 2021
Updating Benefits and Perks in the Remote Era

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many businesses had to transition to a remote workforce or close their doors. Most companies chose the remote option, and soon enough, the idea of working from home turned a pipedream into the new normal. Now, we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines are becoming more common. Yet, many companies are seeing the benefits of a remote workforce, and they may not be turning back. Remote work is opening many doors for companies, such as increasing hiring pools for international workers.

The important thing to remember is that if your company is choosing to remain remote, the benefits you provide your staff should adjust at the same time. While many people like the idea of working from home, doing so have its fair share of challenges, especially as we both continue to deal with the coronavirus and grow our businesses beyond our traditional borders. Let’s look at how HR can help employees adjust to this new way of life and some modified benefits that will help your staff thrive.

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Perks for the New Normal

While free donuts on Mondays are always appreciated, what employees really want is to feel like their companies care about them as people. In fact, in a recent study, only 16% of employees considered “fun” perks like free food and a cool office space to be the priority, and instead, a majority of respondents considered trust, job empowerment, and career growth to be the most important reasons to stay with an employer. Showing employees that management cares is more important now than ever before, and your company can show that by providing perks that speak directly to remote workers and the current world climate.

For example, as you grow your talent pool, your existing employees are likely feeling a mix of excitement and apprehension. If your organization has never been global in any aspect, either hiring or external business, intercultural communication should be a focus of some of your new perks and benefits. Provide training in the basics of a new hire’s native language and cultural norms so that their new coworkers can respectfully communicate with them.

Just like your business, many schools have turned to remote education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are still using this model for the new school year. When school begins this fall, your staff will likely have kids at home all day that they need to care for while also focusing on their work. As a company, consider offering flexible schedules to those who need them. If you can allow an employee to start work a few hours later so they can get their child ready and they are still able to complete their work for the day, consider allowing the option. It will go a long way to show that you care.

On top of that, companies could also consider offering childcare stipends that parents can use for babysitters or daycare centers so their kids stay safe and they can, in turn, focus on work.

If your remote situation is permanent, then you’ll want your staff to be as comfortable and efficient as they were when working from the office. Consider providing your crew with extra money on their paychecks to buy the things they need to spruce up their home workspaces. This could mean stipends for physical needs, including ergonomic chairs and suitable desks, or it could also be monthly reimbursement for the costs of high-speed internet so your staff can get their work done quickly and efficiently.  

Mental and Physical Health

While remote work offers plenty of perks (no commute, saving money on business attire), it also has its share of drawbacks. People who work from home tend to work longer hours, which can leave them feeling physically exhausted. Many can also begin to form feelings of depression and loneliness as they lack the human contact that they became so accustomed to at the office. In addition to having an HR team with an open-door policy, your company could also offer access to professional counselors and other mental health services that employees can turn to when remote work becomes too much.

 

With remote work becoming permanent for so many companies, work fatigue is likely setting in for thousands of employees. This phenomenon is occurring because people have spent the last 18 months at home working in an environment they weren’t expecting, one they didn’t necessarily choose. For every employee who’s taken to working from like a fish to water, there’s an employee who’s struggling to stay focused because of the distractions of home life.

 

People who work remotely also tend to get less exercise as they often go straight from the bedroom to the office or they have easier access to the kitchen. They also have less of a reason to get up and move about since all tasks, meetings, and group conversations occur right there at their workstations. Encouraging exercise is important for any company, as workers who exercise regularly are also more productive due to an increase in endorphins in the brain, which are essential for boosting confidence and fighting stress.


To that end, when crafting your benefits and perks packages, focus on offering a plethora of health and wellness benefits. You can start by providing your workers with desks for their home offices that are adjustable between sitting and standing. These adjustable desks are proving to be a good middle ground between sitting all day and being on your feet all day, which can be almost as bad as the former. Other benefits can start with free gym memberships and include access to online fitness programs that employees can do in their own living rooms. If it is in the budget, provide standing desks to your staff that will lead to more standing and moving about as they work. Another great perk that many companies are considering is food delivery during the workday that allows busy parents who can’t get out of the house to get in their three square meals a day.


Don’t Forget the Basics

While your benefits package will evolve along with your remote workforce, you do not want to forget the basics that your employees need to feel complete now and in the future. Vacation time is still as important as ever, as employees need a break so they can enjoy themselves and come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next big project. 

Health insurance is also essential during this time. You can encourage physical activity and help your staff afford the necessary coverage by offering a discount on their premiums if they quit smoking or meet certain health and fitness requirements.

 

If the year 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we never know what the future holds. To that end, your company must help set your staff up for life after retirement. American businesses should continue to provide the opportunity for employees to contribute to 401k retirement plans with the company and encourage them to add money to IRAs outside of work. Businesses should continue to match employee contributions up to a certain percentage. It is a kind offer that shows your workforce that you truly care about their wellbeing. 

In these changing times, it is more important than ever for companies around the globe to show how much they care about the hard-working employees that work to keep their doors open year after year. These remote-friendly perks are a great first step.

 

About Author: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!