Employee Benefits – Trends in 2019
Take a quick mental look at the history of the workplace. You don’t need to go back a considerable amount of time, just a decade or two ago should suffice to see the state of continuous transformation of the workplace. And, while back in the days it took a while until the 8-hour workday was introduced, nowadays we’re talking about fast-paced developments. This is no time to be left behind. Labour itself has changed tremendously over time, and along with it, employers’ requirements, and employees’ demands. This is why, in the current state of affairs, offering various, formal benefits is no longer enough.
A while ago, having a good job meant having a recreational area, a free gym membership, or a fully stocked cafeteria. If you were able to have lunch in a specially designed area, with your colleagues, putting your work on hold for 45 minutes, you could consider yourself blessed. If you could take a one hour break and play table tennis or darts in the game area, you had it good. Back up a little more, and we reach a time when having a good job meant not being surrounded of colleagues who smoked or not being bound to wear formal attire. Now go even further in the past, to the days when having to work “only” 8 hours per day was considered lucky. What makes a job satisfying has evolved throughout time.
Let’s get back to our time. The 21st century, where more and more people search for a job that goes beyond receiving a monthly paycheck and a decent office. What are they searching for, exactly?
In a previous article, we mentioned healthcare. Undoubtedly, people are looking for employment agreements that include a certain level of health insurance. They need to know that, should they fall ill, the treatment expenses are being handled. Not only does health insurance relieve this financial stress, but also the mental pressure that arises in such situations. Having the company take interest in the employees’ health (both physical and mental) is one of the things that triggers interest. People are interested in working in environments where their well-being matters.
Another thing that has gathered more and more significance lately is the presence of a solid, positive workplace culture, that divides the focus in a healthy manner between customer and employee. “The customer is always right” doesn’t apply axiomatically anymore; the employee is just as valuable. More than that, this type of workplace culture offers employees an environment where they can grow, without being hindered by their managers. Quite the contrary, in fact, the managers are the ones who inspire their subordinates to accede to better positions, by offering their trust and support.
Such work environments are prone to create another sought out work attribute: engagement. Receiving training and being encouraged by superiors have direct impact on the employees’ willingness and enthusiasm in doing their job. For the company, this translates to a significant influence on key business outcomes (such as productivity, profitability, customer ratings etc.). For the employee, it means having a sense of purpose, which in turn leads to a sense of belonging. Knowing that one’s work is meaningful for the company, and that (s)he’s not just a cog in the wheel, changes one from mere employee to company builder.
Once you start building something, your level of involvement rises dramatically. That’s exactly what happens with employees who find a sense of purpose in their work. They start to feel like they belong and their future at the company begins taking shape. We have reached another desirable aspect of the modern workplace: the prospect not of a simple job, but of a career. It’s important to mention, though, that in this context career is defined not as a long period of time spent in the same position, but as a series of jobs undertaken at the same company, with the goal of developing a variety of skills.
The way some companies tackle this is by giving their employees the opportunity to try other jobs from different departments. This interdepartmental relocation is aimed to help employees discover their inclinations, build experience, and develop multidisciplinary competencies. Another example is to offer career planning guidance, with long term goals put in place, and regular assessment and feedback. This will help both the employee to outline his/her work journey, and the company to recruit inside people for newly opened or created positions.
Last, but not least, an important aspect influencing employees and their decisions inside a company is the feeling of psychological safety. The term was coined by Amy Edmondson, author of The Fearless Organization. In her book, the professor demonstrates how eliminating fear out of the workplace leads to a better overall outcome. In a nutshell, being comfortable with expressing ideas or concerns, instead of fearing repression or embarrassment, can make the difference between thriving and withering.
We’ve gone from regulating the amount of hours one can work in a day, to loosening formal constraints, to praising a pool table or a fruit day. The latest trends show that people no longer want to do mindless jobs. They want to be part of a business family, where each does his/her part, where they are supported and encouraged. Any company that wants to flourish and be part of the future must keep up with the times.