As the workforce evolves, your benefits offerings need to adapt. If you’re among the many organizations with remote, hybrid and on-site employees, it’s critical to examine workplace-specific and universal benefits preferences.
The right mix of benefits can boost your attraction and retention efforts. “Mix” is the key word here. Benefits preferences vary among employees in different work arrangements.
Variability has long been understood for employees of different ages, life stages and health conditions. Differing preferences aren’t a problem as long as your offerings are flexible, accessible and equitable. This is especially true when you provide transparent benefits communication and education.
Let’s look at benefits that appeal to remote, hybrid and on-site workers, as well as all groups.
Benefits for remote employees
Remote employees are looking for benefits that can help them perform better at work and at home. The only difference is that home is often where they work.
To meet their needs, it’s essential to provide tech support that creates a seamless virtual experience. Invest in software and hardware to improve efficiency and productivity. Software programs such as Slack, Zoom and SharePoint keep remote workers connected to colleagues in real time or through delayed communications, based on schedules and work preferences. Likewise, hardware such as smartphones, laptops, cameras and lighting allow remote employees to join virtual meetings in a professional manner and without tech delays.
Other benefits considerations include:
- Office furniture and supplies
- Internet and smartphone stipends or reimbursements
- Virtual wellness programs such as online fitness classes
- Gym memberships
Sick time and mental health days are often overlooked for remote employees because they aren’t visibly (or contagiously) unwell around coworkers. But prioritizing physical and mental well-being for remote employees can improve long-term productivity, loyalty and job satisfaction.
Remote employees also crave professional development opportunities, notes the human resources association SHRM. In-person training isn’t the only way to develop new skills. Opportunities for remote employees include online learning and career development platforms, virtual career coaching, webinars and online conferences.
Benefits for hybrid and on-site employees
Whether they’re in the office part time or full time, on-site employees have their own needs. Commutes are a prime example. Employees traveling to work spend more than $8,000 a year commuting, according to MetLife. They will appreciate the value of commuter benefits for parking, mass transit, ridesharing and repairs.
Though flexible work schedules are often associated with remote work, on-site employees want their own type of flexibility. For your on-site population, consider flexible work options such as:
- Personalized start and end times
- Compressed workweeks
- Job-sharing roles
- Part-time roles
- Shift swaps
On-site perks are another way to engage your in-person workforce and make your location commute-worthy. These may include a fitness center, yoga classes, a cafeteria, free or discounted snacks, game rooms and employee lounges. These areas create points of contact to foster work relationships. In addition, green spaces can give employees a place to walk, meet and talk while enjoying time outdoors.
Different work arrangements don’t always lead to different preferences. According to SHRM, the following benefits hold universal appeal:
- Affordable, accessible health insurance
- Retirement plan and employer contributions
- Life insurance
- Dental and vision coverage
- Disability insurance
- Financial education
- Mental health apps
- Caregiver benefits
- Pet insurance
- Identity theft protection
- Lifestyle accounts
Aside from health and retirement, most of the above options are available as voluntary benefits. Employees can often access voluntary benefits through payroll deductions. They typically come at a discounted price, whether you cover some of the premium or connect them to a group rate. Voluntary benefits have the added bonus of allowing employees to select the benefits they value most.
Communication and education
Based on life stages, health challenges, caregiving needs and other personal issues, employees may switch between remote, hybrid and on-site arrangements throughout their time with your company. So it makes sense to offer wide-ranging benefits that appeal to diverse needs.
Regardless of differences, create a common thread of transparent communication about all of your benefits. Explain why you offer certain options. For example, if you promote on-site yoga and free snacks, explain the comparability of online fitness classes, gym discounts or home meal deliveries to your remote employees.
Open communication serves many purposes. It promotes your benefits, guards against jealousy, and gets employees talking about which offerings they use and which they’d like to see. Discovering these preferences among your employees helps identify metrics for utilization, appreciation and value.
Education should be a key component of your communication strategy. Create an online benefits portal to educate all employees, regardless of location. In addition, distribute digital and paper versions of benefits resources such as frequently asked questions and how-tos.
Identify valued benefits
Adapting to new workplace realities and preferences helps your organization get the most value from your benefits.
For more information, talk to your benefits adviser. They can help you assess current offerings, gaps in coverage, and unique solutions to meet the needs of your remote, hybrid and on-site workforce.