Research reveals that by 2025 the most coveted employee benefit will be flexible working, as workers consider work/life balance as the most important perk the workplace can offer them.

The research* on the Future of Work from leading salary sacrifice scheme provider Grass Roots, surveyed 1000+ employees aged 18+ on which workplace benefits are most likely to be most important to them in the future.

Many ‘nice to have’ benefits such as free gym membership or extra days off were completely overlooked in favour of the ability to work flexibly with almost half of employees (49%) hoping to achieve an improved work/life balance in the future. This benefit was particularly popular with those from age 25 to 65+, and even some of the youngest age group (18-24) recognise the benefits of working flexible hours with 30% choosing it as a top priority.

The research also indicates that although a third of respondents want fixed working hours, two thirds either want the freedom to work whenever and from wherever they want or to have some degree of flexibility within a fixed working period. The flexibility required by the gig economy is also reflected in the research with 46% claiming they’d like to be able to balance two jobs in the future.

Team building experiences come next on the future wish list, with 46% of employees earmarking away days and nights out with their colleagues as being something they’d like to do more of in the future. And, furthering the need for HR to consider flexible working policies, the ability to work from home as the third most popular future workplace benefit with 43% of those surveyed claiming they’d like the opportunity to work at home in the future.

Commenting on the survey findings, John Arnold, a professor of organisational behaviour at Loughborough University said: “There has been a notable increase in the past decade in the benefits that promote physical and psychological well-being. However, these tend to be seen as ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘must have’ by many employees, who obviously care more about benefits that enable them to manage their own lives in their own way.”

Stephen Holt, commercial director at Grass Roots said: “It’s clear that the workforce is keen to move away from the 9-5 culture as they don’t want to be chained to a desk every day and instead move towards being able to work in a way that better suits their home life.

“Topping the list of benefits that employees want within the next ten years, organisations should now take steps to address their current working practices and assess the realities of offering staff the ability to work more flexibly. The ability to offer staff this perk could have a significant impact on staff morale and also aid staff recruitment and retention.

“Clearly a change of mindset and degree of trust to allow your staff to work flexibly is required to make the move to this way of working. On a practical level, staff will need the tools to enable flexible working such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. For some businesses, the capital outlay required to provide staff with these devices might be prohibitive. However, salary sacrifice schemes such as Phonescheme and Computingscheme which offer employees access to the latest technology and smartphones at discounted rates, and paid for monthly means that employers can offer staff the ability to work more flexibly, using the device of their choosing.”

The full list of the top ten most coveted employee benefits (aside from financial reward) for the future are:

  1. Flexi time/work-life balance (49%)
  2. Team building experience (46%)
  3. Work from home scheme (43%)
  4. Pension (42%)
  5. Holiday pay (38%)
  6. Sick pay (35%)
  7. Education funding for advancement of learning (31%)
  8. Healthcare (31%)
  9. On-site parking (31%)
  10. Stress counselling (29%)