What post-pandemic perks will really get workers back to the office?

The race for talent is tighter than ever, and with workers expressing interest in fully remote positions (which see 7X more applications than non-remote positions), what can your company offer to draw employees, new and current, back to the office?

In pre-Pandemic days, perks, such as in-office wet bars, ping pong tables, free meals, or on-site fitness classes,  may have been enough to get people to buy in to in-person work. But the past two years have made workers reassess their priorities and what work rewards matter most.

Liz Cannata, CareerBuilder Vice President of Human Resources, advises companies to offer benefits that are relevant and realistic. “Employees still value perks related to wellness and flexibility and that includes extra time off, flexible/remote work options, volunteer time, all of which are exciting to candidates because they provide balance and support interests outside of work,” she said. “These might include floating holidays, training opportunities, and tuition reimbursement as a few examples, which are valuable and intriguing to candidates.”

How else can you make perks meaningful?

Embrace flexibility.

While offering flexible work schedules is becoming a standard way of doing business, allowing employees to decide which days to return to the office -- and which to work remotely -- is key to leaning into current employees’ desires and growing your talent pool. Employers should look to industry standards (Three days? Four?) and be ready to match competitors whenever possible. 

Mental-health programs work.

Workplace wellness programs might include something as simple as covering the cost of meditation apps, such as Calm. You can take things a step further and offer on-demand, subsidized counseling sessions. For example, during the height of the pandemic, Dan Simon, CEO of Founding Farmers, a restaurant group based out of Washington, D.C., provided Talkspace access to all employees and members of their households to help them manage pandemic stresses. Talkspace offers online and mobile therapy services via its website or mobile apps on iOS and Android; it gives users access to licensed therapists over many mediums, including text.

Get physical.

Survey employees and use those learnings to reassess your healthcare benefits. Of course, employees want top-notch medical, dental, and vision, but larger companies like Amazon are offering life-altering benefits, such as fertility assistance. You should also re-assess your benefits provider and look for one that supports a greater array of physical wellness programs, such as Betr, which powers a gut-health program that helps improves energy, sleep, mood, and weight.

Start somewhere – even if it’s a small step.

It doesn’t matter if it’s something as modest as days dedicated to physical wellness – these can still be meaningful as you build out your perks programs. CareerBuilder’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee recently sponsored a 30-minute chair virtual yoga session for “Wellness at Work Day” led by an employee/certified yoga instructor, and the event saw high participation and garnered positive feedback from attendees.

Foster IRL connections.

After relying largely on virtual connections, it's time to develop programs that help colleagues connect in real life to help with team building and combat the isolation fatigue people may have been experiencing over many months. At Zappos, a team leader founded a workplace book club – an idea that arose during a brainstorming session. While they choose books that reflect the company’s core values of pursuing growth, learning, and building positive teams, it allows participants to connect and reflect in an informal, less-structured manner.

Support employees’ passions.

Show an interest in what employees are passionate about and create opportunities for workers to pursue them. CareerBuilder, for example, offers two paid days per year for employees to donate their time and gifts to worthy organizations. If compensation isn’t an issue, consider awarding employees digital gift cards to be used to support a charity of their choice, such as CharityChoice.

Lacking the human-power to implement? Look outward.

If your company doesn’t have the bandwidth to improve the employee rewards experience, there are resources out there to help you easily execute the process.

Employee recognition is a few clicks away.

  • Bonusly: Bonusly is an intuitive platform that makes it easy to give recognition and select custom rewards.
  • Blueboard: This company offers a recognition platform that is powered by hand-curated experiences and high-touch concierge services.
  • Fond: Fond is a seamless platform that enables all employees to quickly redeem corporate perks and rewards and send recognitions.

Whatever path your company chooses, Cannata believes that the state of work-perks is still evolving. “We will continue to see new and creative perks in this competitive job market as employers work to attract workers with different needs and wants,” she said. 

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