Employers are offering new perks to entice workers to leave their home offices, finds JULENA DRUMI
Workers may no longer be legally required to work from home, but employers are being forced to come up with new ideas to entice them back to the office. The pandemic has changed the expectations of many workers and the research suggests employers have responded by offering packages that reflect new priorities.
Employers are now resorting to new forms of employee perks, including wellbeing incentives and dog-friendly facilities.
With recent research finding that jobseekers’ interest in remote work is at a record high, the proportion of UK job postings on the Indeed jobs website offering dog friendly workplaces as a perk has increased almost four times since 2019, possibly reflecting the fact that over three million households in the UK may have acquired a pet during the pandemic.
The offer of allowing dogs in the workplace has kept growing in the last six months, rising by 43% as thousands of workplaces reopened across the UK.
Free or subsidised travel is also being offered increasingly frequently, with the share of postings offering this perk trebling since 2019 as employers seek to coax employees back into the office following the pandemic. These offers may be particularly attractive to workers now, as rail fares have risen by 3.8% while drivers are also seeing record prices at the fuel pumps.
However, wellbeing programmes, which include mental health support, are the fastest rising perk seeing a 1719% increase in mentions.
The shift towards this type of holistic support appears to be in response to studies showing a deterioration in wellbeing during lockdown. A Mind survey found two-thirds of adults said their mental health got worse during the pandemic, and one in four adults experienced mental distress for the first time.
Perks that were once staples of employees’ benefits packages have fallen away. In January 2020, on-site gyms and free or subsidised travel were the most frequently mentioned perks in job postings followed by free breakfasts and lunches and table tennis tables.
However, the share of job postings mentioning breakfasts as an incentive has fallen by over a third (36%) since January 2019, with all food perks declining by 12%.
Despite this, there has been a revival in the last six months, with food perks rising by a fifth (20%) since the removal of all lockdown restrictions.
Office-based social sport activities are also not as popular as they once were, with pool and ping pong perks declining by 11% and 4% respectively since January 2019, though exercise classes and on-site gyms have risen in popularity.
Alcohol is the biggest faller, with posts mentioning it as an incentive declining by 61%.
Pawel Adrjan, head of EMEA research at Indeed, said: “Workplace perks remain a popular way of attracting jobseekers and retaining staff, but they have increasingly been angled towards luring workers back to the workplace since the winding down of the Government’s ‘work from home’ advice.
“Many employers have shifted to a more holistic package to better support current employees and attract new ones. The promise of free food is not as popular as it once was, with employers offering more physical and mental health support, dog friendly workplaces and free or subsidised travel options.
“Travel subsidies may be especially attractive for workers dealing with the rising cost of rail fares and fuel costs at the moment, alongside other increases in the cost of living.
“In this highly competitive labour market, these perks are often an inexpensive way for employers to differentiate themselves from others.
“Perks say a lot about a company’s culture and empathy, so they are also increasingly being offered as a way for employers to demonstrate their commitment to supporting staff, particularly if they need extra help with their mental health and wellbeing.”