In the grand scheme of things, we live in relatively healthy times when it comes to our work life. Sure, we may complain about the temperature in the office or the lack of teabags in the canteen, but in comparison to times gone by we don’t do too badly. Imagine living in Victorian England where children were used as human chimney sweeps, or during the third industrial revolution when 16-hour shifts were commonplace!

Since those days many regulations have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of employees. However, with this change in attitude there has also been increasing pressure on employers to go beyond minimum legal contract requirements. Nowadays it is not unusual to see whole sections in employment contracts that are dedicated to fringe benefits, or employment perks, that are considered likely to attract and retain staff. Such perks could include health insurance, flexible working, free meals, games rooms, bean bags – the list goes on.

This shift has been occurring over recent decades, and it is incredible when you think about it. We’ve gone from being lucky to get a short break in the working day to being able to choose what company we want to work for based on the benefits offered by that firm. In fact, a 2018 survey conducted by Glassdoor found that 63% of employment applicants choose a job based on the perks offered to them.

Onsite gym

An onsite gym might look good on a job description, but is it what employees really want?

As employers get more and more creative – and indeed, more competitive – in what they have to offer employees, how can you be sure that what you are offering is actually what employees want or need from their workplace? A beer tap in the canteen might make Friday afternoons slightly more interesting, but is it really going to be the deciding factor for a talented candidate who is weighing up their options? Interestingly, a comprehensive survey conducted by Harvard Business Review of more than 1600 workers found that employees care more about having fresh air and less about having an onsite gym. In fact, overall the survey found that employees care less about fancy or trendy perks than employers may think.

So, what are some timeless benefits that you can offer potential employees?

Medical or Dental Benefits

The cost of healthcare is rapidly increasing. Unfortunately, Ireland does not have free public healthcare accessible to all, like some of its European counterparts. Many Irish employers have therefore begun to offer some form of health-related benefit to their employees, such as health insurance or onsite dentists. Additionally, many employers now offer limited sick pay to their staff, so that their employees can be doubly sure not to be out of pocket when ill.

Increase in Number of Paid Holidays

Not everyone is as passionate about their work as they are about their family. Many organisations recognise that a healthy work/life balance is important for a productive workforce. Some organisations choose to offer extra days off so that employees can have an extended break over the Christmas period, while other employers (such as HubSpot) choose not to have a threshold at all, so that employees have unlimited vacation days. Implementing completely unlimited holidays may seem like a drastic step, but the mentality behind it is that it helps to reduce work-related stress which can be a productivity killer. Additionally, it allows employees the opportunity to fully pursue extra-curricular activities and goals. That 11am Pilates class you wish to attend on the other side of town every Tuesday and Thursday? You don’t even need to ask, just pop it in your calendar.

That being said, it is important to note that this obviously comes with some level of responsibility. Companies like HubSpot stress that this works only because their employees recognise that they are still expected to produce the same quality of work as they would with just the standard holiday allowance.

Flexible working schedule

Working a full-time job can mean that you’re always rushing out the office door in order to make an appointment or get to the bank before it closes. Offering your employees the flexibility to incorporate these errands into their schedule reduces the stress and creates better quality work.  If remote work is possible then that option should also be considered for any employee who feels like it may make them more efficient. After all, productivity levels can spike and drop throughout the day and vary from person to person. You want to make sure that you are offering your employees the opportunity to work when they are at their most productive.

If you need advice on this or any other HR-related matter, please do get in touch with us on 056-7701060, or reach out to your contact directly.