Remote work isn’t exactly the powerful employee perk it once was. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to make working from home happen, and fast. It was an abrupt adjustment, but employees soon settled into their new commute-free work life.
And now most don’t want to give it up. A whopping 86% of workers who started working from home during the pandemic are interested in continuing to do so, a new YouGov poll reveals.
Which presents another significant challenge for employers: how to attract top talent when some of your best perks have disappeared. No free food or fitness center, let alone on-site child care. Commuter benefits no longer apply, and flexible work policies aren’t so special anymore.
Companies that want to stay competitive are implementing innovative perks and benefits to recruit all-star employees — and keep the ones they’ve got.
“Remote work will be a talent magnet in coming years — and must be viewed as a long-term investment,” according to a recent report by SHRM, Oxford Economics and SAP SuccessFactors.
How to attract top talent: Give employees the 3 things they really want
Though free coffee is nice to have, what today’s employees are really looking for is the care and support to thrive at work. Limeade research shows that 1 in 3 employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employer cared about them as a person.
Instead of focusing on the tangible perks, here are three things you can do to become a destination for remote employees:
1. Help get the job done
If your organization is among the 68% of employers planning to adopt work-from-home policies more broadly and permanently, it’s time to double-down on arrangements you’ve already made. Consider what these perks and benefits look like for new and partially remote employees too.
Stipends to cover home office setup and supplies
A good work-from-home setup is crucial. Without the proper ergonomics of a decent chair, keyboard and monitor, employees risk back and neck pain that can degrade quality of life — not to mention affect productivity. Helping employees purchase home office essentials will ensure they can comfortably conduct business as usual.
Provide periodic stipend disbursements that can be used on a wide variety of WFH items including office chairs, chargers, noise-canceling headphones, and microphones and ring lights for virtual meetings. Be sure to make these stipends a permanent part of remote employee onboarding.
Child care assistance and family support
Work flexibility went from a perk to a lifeline in the pandemic, with caregivers desperate for compassion and understanding. In a more permanent remote reality, the barriers between work and life will continue to crumble.
When an employee shows up to work — either in a physical office or signing on for the day — they are bringing their whole selves. If they are scrambling for child care or elder care, that stress can affect their performance and impact their teams.
To help alleviate that pressure, employers are providing child care subsidies in the form of spending accounts or bonuses, or personal time to be used when day care is closed or a child is sick. Some employers offer tutoring services to help children (and parents) with home learning. However your organization is able to demonstrate care for working parents, make sure benefits remain once kids are back in school.
Food and grocery delivery
Show remote employees you care about them — and their families — by replacing office lunches with grocery stipends or a weekly snack box delivery. Or consider providing food delivery gift cards along with an invitation to a virtual team meal focused on social connection, not work talk.
2. Support their well-being
The always-on nature of remote work means work-from-home burnout is a real and potentially costly concern. A recent Gallup report reveals that 29% of employees who work from home full time say they feel burned out “very often” or “always,” up from 18% pre-pandemic.
Employee burnout happens when highly engaged employees — your top performers — feel unsupported at work and begin to have low well-being. If your best people burn out and leave, it can cost up to twice their salary to replace them. There’s real value in outlining your company’s well-being offerings to let potential employees know that supports are in place.
Mental health resources
The conversation around mental health in the professional arena has undergone a sea change from even just a few years ago. Stigma is shrinking, and the mental health of remote workers is fast becoming a top priority for companies looking to stand out. Employers are encouraging the use of employee assistance programs and comprehensive well-being platforms, which offer mobile-first resources around resilience, wellness coaching, sleep health and mindfulness training.
Straightforward, time-saving and oh-so-effective. Now that home is the office, employer-funded housecleaning is an invaluable work perk that not only can reduce stress and distractions, but also provide the rare benefit of more free time.
3. Create a company culture of belonging
Humans need to feel they belong. And in a professional setting, the degree to which employees feel a sense of belonging has dramatic impacts on their experience.
Companies that actively make employees feel accepted see a 50% reduction in turnover rates, according to a new report. And when people feel like they belong, they are 167% more likely to recommend their company to others — a key recruiting advantage.
Belonging must be a part of modern strategies to attract and retain employees, but it’s a particular challenge with remote workforces. An employee inclusion platform can help you create and measure your goals.
Employees consistently rank professional development among the most important perks a company can offer. But nearly half of workers say their employers have reduced upskilling and reskilling opportunities during the pandemic, according to a report by Degreed.
More than ever, financial and cultural support for professional development is a clear sign that an organization cares about employee growth. Consider an online learning platform or provide L&D stipends if you don’t have them in place — and give employees “development hours” to use them.
Less formal learning opportunities have value too. Virtual book clubs can foster a sense of community, especially if participants are encouraged to block off time on their calendars for the occasional meeting.
Corporate giving and volunteerism
2020 was one of the most charitable years on record. Driven by the pandemic and racial injustice, 51% more people donated through their corporate giving programs — and gave 41% more per donation than the year before, according to the latest data.
Employees want to work for a company where charitable giving and volunteering are supported. Consider adding donation-matching fundraising campaigns and virtual volunteer events to your array of company perks.
Some employers have established internal volunteer databases, where employees offer time and skills to help each other learn new technology, share resources, even tutor colleagues’ children. Just don’t forget to find ways to reward employees for their teamwork.
Ready to take a comprehensive approach to employee care? Learn about the Limeade ONE platform, which demonstrates care by reaching every employee, listening to them, and offering activities, resources and programs.