As the lockdown started to ease and estate agents opened their doors again, there was a surge in interest in moving to properties outside of big towns and cities. Outside of the UK even.
Remote workers can now do exactly what it says on the tin and move anywhere with decent connectivity. The big home working experiment during lockdown has suddenly meant that living within commuting distance of your office or headquarters is no longer a major factor in deciding where to live.
Being able to work from anywhere means that employees are able to plug into the global jobs market. And recruiters are able to cast their eye beyond a talent pool tied to the daily commute. Obviously this also means that the talent wars are becoming more global too.
Smaller companies especially will need to rethink recruitment and retention strategies to find and keep the workers they need. Offering employee benefits that are most valued by a global, mobile workforce is critical. Before the pandemic, SMEs were increasing investment in employee benefits to give them an edge in the battle with bigger businesses to attract the best talent. Many of the office-based perks that usually help smaller firms stand out on job pages aren’t all that relevant right now. It’s time for a rethink.
Are employee benefits now universal?
Not yet. Recent figures tell us that 47% of businesses don’t offer any benefits at all, according to research by Hooray Health and Protection. Those companies without a benefits programme will be losing hiring ground to competitors that do.
Recruiting ‘Generation Flex’
Pre-Covid, new hires saw flexible work as a major benefit. Research in 2019 by the International Workplace Group found that 83% of global respondents would chose a job that offered flexible working over a similar offer that didn’t. As IWG points out, there has been a major power shift and employees, who have been dubbed ‘Generation Flex’, are now ‘calling the shots’ on what the working day looks like.
In a post-pandemic world, businesses have the opportunity to redress this imbalance by making flexible / remote working a long-term strategy. But this flexibility is not on the roadmap for many small and medium-size companies just yet. Intermedia recently found that 57% of SMEs who turned to remote working during lockdown plan to offer the option long term. Will those businesses that do not offer this flexibility miss out on recruiting and keeping the talent they need? When you think that 70% of workers say that they would stay with their employer a year longer if remote working was a core benefit, according to a recent study by Remote, the answer is most likely yes.
What other types of benefits appeal to remote workers?
Remote also found that pensions schemes are the most popular benefit among remote workers at 41%. This is followed by a home-office allowance at 39% and healthcare at 36%. Just under half of respondents also said that culture is important for hiring new staff (47%) and retaining employees (48%). Meanwhile, a similar number again (49%) thought that pay and benefits should be based on ability, regardless of location.
What types of benefits do expat workers want?
For employers that want to offer expat work placements, expanding employee benefits to support a globally mobile workforce is also crucial to improve loyalty. MetLife’s recent Employee Benefits Trends Study found that even in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, there is still a strong appetite for international work experience among workers. And Generation Z and Millennials are leading the way on this.
MetLife’s research also found that 68% of globe-trotting employees say that having a wider array of benefits would significantly increase their loyalty to their employer. Working from home, flexible hours and life insurance were high on the list of benefits that would ease stress levels and improve their well-being.
Food for thought?
Businesses are now able to look beyond location to find talent, plug skills shortages and attract a more diverse workforce. Employers with a well-crafted inclusive employee benefits package that better supports diversity and inclusion initiatives will have the edge here.
If your business is looking at how employee benefits could help you cast your recruitment net wider and retain the talent you need as you plan your post-pandemic future, we’re here if you need our help.