Ask any employer what their biggest headache is right now and most will say the same thing: staffing. Whether it is appealing to new recruits or holding onto their existing teams, in the era of the Great Resignation, companies are going above and beyond to attract and retain talent, highlights Ally Fekaiki.

For some this means pay rises, for others – such as Airbnb – it’s making remote working a permanent fixture. In short, most progressive employers are laying out the red carpet to stop staff from moving on to pastures new. But to do this many are relying on an outdated practice that most people absolutely hate. 


How they offer benefits

Benefit packages vary from company to company – some offer dental and childcare support, others gym memberships and generous learning and development budgets. Yet despite the diversity of offers, they all have one thing in common. Benefits packages tend to be one-size-fits-all; a set offering that all employees can choose to take up. 

In an era of hybrid work and against the backdrop of a tight labour market, this approach is a major mistake. 


The shift of power

The world of work is evolving. Staff are no longer willing to put up with bad conditions and will simply move on if they’re not satisfied – one in five employees are set to quit in the next twelve months. Post-pandemic, people are getting used to having more autonomy over when, where and how they work. As these lockdown induced changes are granted permanent status at many companies, we’re entering a new era of employee empowerment. 

This is good news. Empowered employees tend to be more motivated, productive and loyal to the companies which enable them to work on their own terms. But this means that the wider value-add of business – such as their benefits packages – need to follow suit. Just one in five (19 per cent) of workers who are dissatisfied with their benefits package are highly engaged with their job. That means, to keep staff in post and foster a productive culture, businesses must start championing personal choice and end the top-down, paternalistic approach to benefits that currently dominates most offerings. 


Expectations of the work experience are changing

Employers know that the landscape has fundamentally shifted – data from Aon shows that 93 percent of companies think that employees’ expectations of their work experience are changing. However, few know how to evolve their offering accordingly, with only 13 percent of firms say they’re being “very successful” when it comes to the benefits they’re offering.

Benefits offerings which are set in stone are often poorly engaged with by staff. In some cases, take up can be as low as 5 percent for certain benefits, according to Xerox. This highlights the issue at hand. Why should bosses choose what staff want? Why is it assumed that those in the boardroom understand what the wider workforce need, prefer, or prioritise? 


Pay rise or flashy hotel party?

Staff also hate it when they see their company wasting money on things, whilst failing to offer pay rises or boost their employee support. This might be a flashy holiday party hosted at an hour which makes it impossible for staff with kids to attend. Or costly yoga sessions held in the office which fail to attract many participants. Instead, staff want to be presented with choice when it comes to how a company supports them. They want to see that their company is investing directly in them as people. Every team member is an individual, they deserve to be treated like one. 

In this era of employee empowerment, we must ensure all elements of a company’s offering are considered and evolved accordingly. Flexibility and choice don’t end with the office vs. work from home debate. When it comes to benefits, it’s time to start treating people like the individuals they are and putting personal preference at the heart of your offering. Otherwise, people will start heading for the door.