As England begins ‘Freedom Day’ which started on July 19th, what workers expect from their employer might once again shift – just as it did at the start of the pandemic. There has been a lot of hype about hybrid working, but will this continue to be a priority, as those workers that it would apply to once again get used to being on-site?
The employers that will be most successful in engaging their employees post-July 19th will be the ones who stay close to their employees, understanding their shifting needs and wants, and being able to continually evolve as required.
Set a baseline
To successfully flex a business to its employees’ changing needs – and to do it regularly – an organisation needs to first understand its non-negotiables. Factors might include:
- the minimum number of staff needed at any one time to keep the business afloat
- the maximum the business can afford for salaries and benefits
- the culture and personality of the business and what makes it unique
- and of course, the core services/products the business offers to its customers.
Essentially, organisations need to check they still have a solid business plan and to be flexible around that. As businesses grow, they often accumulate a lot of excess baggage about how they do things and take on work outside of scope. Being bogged down like this can detract from being able to meet employees’ needs.
Understand how expectations can change
Business leaders and HR can benefit from considering external research on employee benefits and how desires change.
Earlier this year, Cezanne HR asked 750 employees based in the UK about the workplace benefits they most wanted and the ones they most used. The highest ‘want’ was enhanced leave, and the benefit most ‘used’ was flexible working. At the bottom of the want list was workplace socials, and coming up last on the used list was transport benefits.
The results of this survey are a good indication of how quickly what’s wanted and what’s used can change because workplace socials and transport benefits will no doubt become important benefits again as more people go back to on-site working.
COVID-19 was no doubt a massive disruptor in terms of wanted and used benefits, but coming out of pandemic life might cause equal upheaval.
Experiment to find what works best for your workforce
While some things might be set in stone, for example, pay rises will be off the cards for any organisations that have suffered over the last 15 or so months, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for flexibility with benefits. Sometimes the littlest things, like a fruit bowl in the office or duvet days can make a big difference to employees.
HR could take a lead by looking at job ads to see what competitors or other organisations, in general, are offering, and then rolling out what they can in their own workplace. Keeping an eye on reputable HR websites, who talk about the latest thinking around benefits, is another way to come up with new and exciting offerings.
Why not ask your employees via a staff survey to pick from a list of new benefits (ones the business knows it can deliver on) to make sure what’s being offered is top of the ‘want’ and ‘use’ lists. You might be surprised by how little it takes to achieve very high levels of engagement.