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Uber gift cards, Graze boxes and Headspace subscriptions – the new ‘remote’ work perks you will see on job descriptions this year

Searching for a new job in 2021 has taken on a whole new approach with 23.9 million professionals in the UK now working from home.

Car allowances, subsidised travel and lunches, free breakfast, gym memberships and work socials – valued at £8.25bn – now hold little value in today’s job offer package.

Phill Westcott – Director of Staffing Business Walters People says: “We’re almost 12 months into the world’s largest remote working experiment where 23.9million professionals in the UK are currently working from home – a jump from 1.54 million pre-pandemic.

“For companies who have been experiencing growth or undergoing some form of transition, hiring hasn’t stopped – but the way in which they hire, and more specifically the job offer, has changed significantly.

“In more recent years soft benefits, ‘perks of the job,’ and workplace culture has become just as important as pay and compensation. Previously professionals would weigh up a job offer looking at factors such as work hours, commute time, and train season ticket loans – but with remote working still the norm, job hunters are judging prospective employers on entirely different standards.

“The challenge for companies looking to hire is getting to grips with what workplace benefits can also work well remotely, and how to effectively illustrate the company’s culture & values virtually.”

In a recent Walters People poll, 57% of employers stated that they intend to continue with a degree of remote working even after social-distancing measures ease.

Mindful Chef

Top 8 perks included in job offers this year

  1. Gifting: In the same way that companies once sent out corporate gifts to clients or customers, employers will begin to do the same to their staff by way of acknowledging how important a stakeholder they are to a company, and also in the hope that feeling valued will help to aid productivity when working from home. New starter, birthday, workplace anniversary, and mental wellbeing will be the most popular gifting themes for employers – with the likes of Virgin Wines and Perk Box being popular choices for employers.

2. Mental Health Services: In a Walters People survey, 42% of professionals reported a decline in mental health at some point during remote working, and a third of managers reported concerns about their team’s wellbeing. Mental health will continue to be a priority for employers, in particular due to the pandemic putting many employers on the backfoot in being able to offer effective support. With mental health being such a personal concern, employers have taken to third parties to help provide tailored support to their staff – with many offering paid subscriptions to mental heath apps such as HeadspaceCalm and Happify – as well as enhancing employees health insurance to include access to counselling sessions through the likes of health insurance providers Vitality.

Happify

3. Food Delivery: Free tea, coffee, soft drinks, breakfast, fruit baskets, and Friday afternoon beers were becoming the norm for many forward-thinking companies where most of the workforce is made up of millennials (25-40 years). Switching to home working and for 3x meals to be provided has been an adjustment for many – in particular at a time when restrictions have been in place on leaving your house. To counter this, and to help ease employees concerns about safety, employers have started to give e-gift cards for takeaway deliveries with Deliveroo and Just Eat. Employers who are particularly focussed on wellness have offered subscriptions to GrazeHelloFresh or Mindful Chef as part of their workplace perks.

4. Private Travel: Gone are the days where a train season ticket loan is considered a valuable perk from a new employer. In a recent Walters People poll, 26% of professionals stated that they intend to ditch public transport in favour of driving or cycling when required to go back into work. Employers are cautious about requesting travel into work unless absolutely necessary and to help provide reassurance they have been offering Uber Gift Cards to staff to allow them to make their own travel choices without money being a concern.  

Virgin Wines

5. Fitness: Gym memberships have long been a popular workplace perk, but with gyms closed and professionals complaining about long days at their desk with no opportunity to get out for a walk, employees have had to respond to personal needs to help maintain motivation at home. Fitbits, gift certificates for sports shops, water bottles, and virtual yoga classes have been the go-to turnaround for most employers. What’s most interesting to see is that the government backed ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme has remained on job offers – meaning that new employees can get up to 42% off a bike purchase. The beauty of the scheme being that staff can enjoy a local ride for the time being, until office-based working returns.

6. Subscription Services: Employers have had to face up to the realities – and limitations – of lockdown. Whilst there was a small surge in virtual socials & team drinks, and a dabble in virtual away-days, overall this has been met with fatigue – with many employees happy to wait until the return of the office to be able to socialise properly with colleagues outside of work hours. Instead, employers are swapping their social & hospitality budgets for a year’s subscription to TV, music, and magazine subscriptions for employees – with the top favourites being SpotifyApple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video. A single user Netlifx account costs £5.99 p/m – a no brainer when compared to the £22 p/m average management spend per employee at work-related socials.

7. Home Office Supplies: Arguablymore of a need than a perk, however employers have gone one-step ahead and created drop-down shopping lists for employees to be able to choose how to ‘kit-out’ their home office – from foldable desks & ergonomic chairs, to pre-printed envelopes, stamps, desk organisers, post-its and desk plants. Some companies have enlisted interior and feng shui experts to help educate their employees on their work from home set-up.

8. Technology Accessories: There is no denying that technology has been the great enabler during the pandemic – ensuring companies can transition to remote working, allowing families & friends to stay in touch virtually, and shopping being done safely online. Remote working has allowed employers the opportunity to provide their staff with tools that not only aid productivity during work-hours but also enhance their living on a personal level. Top favourites include wifi booster, noise-cancelling headphones, smart speaker, and wireless charging stations.

Main Pic: @kerenfedida

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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