Countless businesses are offering staff benefits such as hybrid working locations, table tennis tables and beer fridges. However, new research from Wet Ones has discovered that four-fifths (81%) of companies’ benefits packages are out of sync with employee lifestyles.
The 2021 Employee Benefits, Health and Wellbeing Survey discovered that since moving to a home and flexible hybrid working model, many company perks have gone unused.
Now summer is coming to an end for 2021 graduates, many will be looking to get their foot in the door of their desired companies. While employers often presume that graduates are eager to join their business, it is not always so simple. As the UK job market hits a record high, it is important that businesses stand out from their competitors to secure the best talent.
According to the Employee Benefits, Health and Wellness Survey, a total of 93% of grads agree that an employee benefits programme plays a key role in whether they want to work for a company. It is clear that companies must keep up to date with graduates needs to win over 2021’s graduates. But what benefits attract graduates the most?
What benefits should companies prioritise, to engage with graduates?
Overall, flexitime is the primary benefit that attracts graduates to businesses. When asked how their employers could support their physical, mental and personal wellbeing, almost 9 in 10 (86%) said they wanted more flexible working hours.
However, it is not just in-office hours that businesses need to consider. Over half of graduates (57%) would like their employers to support them with an additional ‘health day’ allowance for personal wellbeing.
In addition, 43% desire financial support when it comes to staying healthy, through perks such as private health and dental care.
Following the trend of employee wellbeing, almost a third of respondents (29%) claimed they would like employers to subsidise both health and fitness benefits. Support for exercise equipment such as weights is an attractive benefit to graduates, as are therapy sessions and mental health support.
Green incentives were at the bottom of the list of desired workplace benefits among graduates. Just 14% of those surveyed listed it as a priority over others within the health and wellness categories.
Graduates believe working at home is beneficial to their health and wellbeing
To effectively support employee wellbeing, it is essential that companies realise how their employees’ lifestyles have permanently shifted.
Rather than ‘binge exercising’ at weekends, the UK workforce has enjoyed regular exercise throughout the working week since widespread working from home began. A total of 86% of graduates said working from home provides an opportunity to be more physically active than during the week.
Over a third (37%) of graduates claim working from home gives employees a chance to walk more during the working week, instead of exclusively at weekends. Additionally, half (50%) of graduates believe it allows them to engage in more wellness activities, such as gardening and engaging with nature.
What’s more, 50% of graduates claim that working from home lets them enjoy more healthy, home-cooked meals during the week.
What can businesses do?
Changing exercise routines should cause companies to consider more flexible funding of equipment, instead of just offering a standard gym membership. While an increased focus on healthy diets could point towards more of an appetite for fruit and vegetable box deliveries, rather than a monthly takeaway. Wellness activities should also be incorporated to ensure both physical and mental health support is covered.
Gurinder Sagoo, HR Director for North Europe and Oceania at Wet Ones, says:
“We’re aware of the importance of ensuring people have the support and resources they need to lead both active and healthy lifestyles. The findings from this study show that an urgency to adapt employee wellbeing packages has emerged during the last year.
“Significantly, they also demonstrate how essential it is for benefits packages to cater for everyone in the workplace, by taking into account each individual’s age, lifestyle and personal circumstances. An inclusive benefits package contributes to the whole team feeling supported in pursuing a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is crucial that companies digest these findings and take action to improve how they nurture employee wellbeing.”
Kris Ambler, Workforce Lead at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), says:
“Lockdown loneliness and digital fatigue are among the phrases that have entered our lexicon and many employees are contending with bereavement and grief, redundancy, restructuring and job insecurity. This means that employee benefit programmes will need to be more personalised; managers will have to be more intuitive when assessing the mental wellbeing of remote workers; and financial wellbeing support will need to play a larger role within the employee benefits and occupational health mix.
“Investing in employee benefit schemes makes good economic sense and demonstrates a genuine commitment to an employer’s duty of care to their staff. Support services, including counselling, can help to identify and address problems early. They can alleviate the psychological impact of negative work situations and keep employees working effectively and productively.”
Dawn Morris, HR Adviser at Cluer HR, says:
“The right workplace support can have a hugely positive impact on employee wellbeing and mental health and is fundamental to every employer’s reward and benefits programme. It will show understanding and appreciation of current and future employees, and help to build an engaged, supported and productive workforce. Having the right benefits package can also attract new talent to the business.”
The 2021 Employee Benefits, Health and Wellbeing Survey interviewed employees across 133 UK workplaces about their health and wellbeing needs and how habits have changed, and whether updated benefits packages from their employers would help to support their wellbeing.