Five trending long-term strategies for employee benefits and reward


The impact of Covid-19 has seen employers make some quick short-term adjustments to their employee benefits to help their employees adapt to the new normal.

Five trending long-term strategies for employee benefits and reward

Now, many employers are looking at evaluating their longer-term strategy. With growing evidence of how employee health can impact business performance, employers will be looking to ensure that employees can stay physically, emotionally and financially well, while also balancing changing employee expectations.

Here are five trending long-term strategies for employee benefits and reward:

1. A move towards flexible working

In recent years, there has been a slow move towards employees occasionally working from home for appointments or deliveries. But the forced shift to home working in 2020 for most office-based workers has made many employers and employees realise the benefits of it.

With productivity improving for many, staff benefitting from no commute, and financial savings on lunches and take away coffees, it’s no surprise that 95% of employees expect agile or home working, according to Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends survey 2021.

It’s not just location that matters, there will be a shift towards flexible working hours or even compressed hours, to allow employees to balance their work and their home responsibilities.  

2. A focus on finance

Financial worries are a leading cause of stress and anxiety, which can lead to poor physical health. The last year has seen many experience money worries, and it’s likely to continue throughout 2021.

With a lot of employers reviewing if they can offer bonuses or pay rises this year, it will be key for them to evaluate their financial wellbeing strategy and look at other alternatives to help their employees. Whether that’s offering financial education to empower staff to make smart saving choices, or a discount scheme that can help their wages stretch further with savings to be had on anything from the weekly shop to new tech.

3. Growing importance of health plans

Many of us will have revaluated our health, whether that’s looking at ways to eat healthier or exercise more. But it goes beyond that. Due to Covid-19 there has been a reduction in referrals for health conditions, largely because some patients are being cautious about seeking advice for potential health concerns.

We expect to see an uptake in employers offering health plans, so employees can manage and short- or long-term health conditions and reduce pressure on the NHS.

4. Continued emphasis on employees’ mental health

The pandemic has affected our mental health in many ways, including an increase in anxiety and a decrease in happiness according to the Office for National Statistic’s Coronavirus and social impact on Great Britain (5 February 2021) figures.  Employers are key to helping employees manage stress and anxiety at work. We expect to see a growth in employers offering, and employees using, benefits like an employee assistance programme which offers counselling on work, life and family related worries.

It’s not just about what benefits you’re offering, there needs to be a greater focus on communicating what you have available to support employees. Communications should be regular and targeted at employees.  

5. Recognition for a job well done

The last trend in employee benefits and rewards is an increased focused on recognition. Even something as simple as a ‘thank you’ can go a long way to making your employees feel appreciated for what they do every day.

Plus a culture where success is recognised and rewarded is important in creating a happier and more productive workplace. Whether that’s encouraging peer-to-peer recognition, or management rewarding employees, we expect recognition to be important in 2021. Particularly when you can’t say ‘thank you’ in person.

The author is Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage.

This article is provided by Sodexo Engage.


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