Benefits trends of 2020: where should your focus be?
Even the most carefully and thoughtfully curated employee deals have been well and truly put to task in 2020. With the rapid and unpredictable spread of COVID-19 causing all of our lives – both personal and working – to change dramatically, many of the highly-coveted benefits of 2019 are almost completely unnecessary now, whilst others have rapidly moved to the top of employees’ lists. So which benefits are now seeing a surge as a result of the restrictions and changes we have seen in 2020?
As a large proportion of the national workforce is now primarily working at home, this undoubtably means a shift in the focus of benefits. Whilst for many organisations this shift was born from necessity more than anything else, many businesses – and employees – are seeing for the first time the myriad of advantages that remote working can offer, with many reporting improved work-life balance and productivity. Now that businesses have seen the benefits of remote working, it is likely that flexible working will continue to be a prominent theme in the coming months, with employers increasing the use of flexible working hours to further contribute to a better work-life balance for employees.
Many organisations are encouraging workers to use the time they would’ve used commuting to best advantage, whether that is improving a skill, working on their physical fitness or perhaps something else that they’ve wanted to work on but couldn’t find the time. For those looking to improve their physical fitness, wearable tech such as FitBits and Apple Watches are immensely popular, particularly when gyms are closed. Alongside this, exercise equipment will also see an upward spike in uptake rates, as people look to develop their workout routines within the confines of their homes. Organisations can support employees by providing discounts or salary sacrifice options to make purchasing tech products more affordable. Utilising an employee engagement platform – such as Amplify – can streamline this process, making it simple to administrate and easy for employees to use.
Unsurprisingly, with employees travelling less, the benefit with the largest uptake in 2020 has been the cycle-to-work scheme, with the government reporting an increase of up to 200% in cycling activity and an increase of 120% of people joining the scheme compared to last year during June in lockdown. Even I have taken up this benefit recently (although finding a bike in stock was another story) so any employers not offering this benefit should consider the employee wellness and financial benefits it can provide.
Mental Health Support
Whilst the positives of remote working have been widely recognised, on the other hand, working from home can also raise several potential negative effects by the way of less social interaction, less physical activity, and more strain on employees during home life (especially those with children). Equally, employees may also be struggling with the worries for their health and those of their loved ones amid a global pandemic and may also be navigating a loss of household income from family members being furloughed or facing unemployment. Therefore, supporting employees’ mental health by providing employee well-being benefits such as EAP helplines could be invaluable to those who need it at this time.
Closely related to this point, another sector which is seeing an large increase during the pandemic is the risk and protection benefits – insurance companies are feeling the pressure of the pandemic with some offering a cash benefit to customers who are treated for coronavirus as well as covering treatments for mental health conditions relating to Covid-19. As a result, private medical insurance will play a big emphasis in curating the employee deal for the foreseeable future. Alongside this, services such as VideoDoc can provide welcome support when doctors appointments may be hard to come by.
It may sound like I am teaching you to suck eggs as many of the benefits trends mentioned have been on the forefront for years now. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the deadline of these initiatives forward rapidly - a lot sooner than expected for some companies. It also goes without saying that implementing these benefits undoubtedly costs money and this increased demand has fallen at a time when budgets have been unexpectedly squeezed. So, it is imperative that those working in reward and benefits use their budgets wisely, and ensure employees are provided with the right benefits to reflect the current climate.
If you would like support in creating your employee deal, or would like to know more about our employee engagement platform, Amplify, please do get in touch – you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +44 (0)20 3457 0894.