Keep your remote workers happy with these 5 employee perks
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Workplace benefits are great when people spend enough time in the office to benefit. But how do you continue to reward your workforce now that such a significant portion is working from home full-time or part-time?
In recent years, the best employers have competed to attract the best talent by promising a wide range of benefits. Employees enjoyed free tea and coffee, fridges stocked with beer, Friday night socials, on-site gyms, snack carts, sleep pods, game rooms, office slides and heavily subsidized (or often free) cafeteria food.
But following the COVID-19 outbreak and the shift to remote working, these once popular office perks have become largely redundant. On the contrary, while employees saved money in certain areas, such as their daily commute, they may have noticed that the cost of their household bills or weekly groceries skyrocketed. Not to mention the additional home office equipment required to create a space in which they can work productively and comfortably.
Additionally, a significant share of remote workers report working longer hours, experiencing increased levels of stress and isolation, and taking fewer vacation days. Research has found that remote employees in the UK, Austria, Canada and the US are working 2.5 hours overtime per day. If left unaddressed, these added expenses and frustrations could breed resentment among your hardest-working and most loyal employees.
As the pandemic subsides, many organizations continue to offer employees the option to work from home some or all of the time. Indeed, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, released in March 2021, revealed that 66% of employers worldwide are redesigning their workplaces to accommodate hybrid working arrangements. To retain and motivate workers in these new circumstances, employers need to revamp their employee value proposition (EVP) and consider providing their workforce with relevant new incentives.
Below are five benefits to satisfy your remote workers.
Increased flexibility is one of the main benefits associated with working remotely. Research from FlexJobs reveals that 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
Indeed, employees appreciate being able to determine their daily schedules, to successfully balance their personal and professional commitments and to spend more time with their families. A report from Microsoft Surface and YouGov, for example, found that 55% of remote employees use their lunch break to focus on their personal lives.
If your staff needs to work from home, give them the autonomy to work out a schedule that works for them. There are far better ways to monitor production and maintain regular communication with your employees than requiring everyone to work the same nine hours every day.
2. Benefits of home office
Many benefits can be quickly and easily adapted to a remote workplace.
To begin with, employees really love free food. According to USA Today, just providing free food to your staff can result in a 67% job satisfaction rating. With this in mind, many organizations have improved their office catering in recent years to boost employee motivation and productivity. For remote workers, you can issue coffee and tea vouchers, provide a grocery allowance, or reimburse employees for a restaurant lunch once a week.
On special occasions, such as birthdays or during the holiday season, you can send food baskets, gift boxes or flowers.
If your workplace has facilities such as an on-site gym, which your remote employees can no longer access, you might consider funding virtual exercise classes or gym memberships.
Efforts like these can go a long way in improving workforce morale, showing your employees that they are valued and appreciated.
3. Career development opportunities
When it comes to managing your employees remotely, does out of sight mean out of mind?
The best and brightest talent in your organization will expect new challenges and opportunities no matter where they are, so they can continue to advance their careers. It’s easy to overlook all the great things your employees do when you’re not spending time with them on a daily basis and directly observing their contributions.
To overcome this challenge, consider formalizing the feedback process. Employees should have the opportunity to discuss their progress, grievances, and long-term goals in semi-regular one-on-one meetings. Additionally, be sure to provide your remote workforce with the opportunity to upskill, participate in training courses, and attend networking events, whether virtually or in person.
4. Home office allowance
Without the proper setup, working from home can be quite an unpleasant experience.
An employee who spends the workday slumped on the couch, in a noisy communal space, and struggling with a slow, intermittent internet connection is unlikely to deliver their best work.
On the other hand, a quiet, dedicated workspace combined with access to the right technology is much more conducive to employee productivity.
You can’t be held entirely responsible for people’s work-from-home environments, but providing a budget for your staff to purchase their own home office supplies can be a huge boost to employee satisfaction. Workers could use this allowance to buy everything from noise-canceling headphones and extra computer screens to ergonomic chairs and standing desks.
5. Virtual Events
Researchers from Aalborg University have found that around 20% of the workforce can suffer from loneliness when working remotely. Prioritizing passionate and empathetic leadership can help combat this, but remote workers will also benefit tremendously from meaningful interactions and relationship building with their colleagues.
Establishing a virtual social calendar, which you can fill with a range of activities, is a great way to facilitate these relationships, whether your company chooses to host virtual coffee mornings, movie discussion groups and books or online team building events.
Workers should also be encouraged to schedule regular talks with their team members, including one-on-ones, where they can spend time getting to know each other better and engaging in non-work-focused conversations.
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