It’s no secret that the days where employee benefits were seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ are long gone.

In 2019, the question ‘do you do Friday beers?’ is as likely to be asked by an interview candidate as ‘what’s the pay like?’. And that’s only scratching the surface of the seemingly infinite, always-evolving plethora of benefits that job-hunters have come to expect. It’s for this reason that it’s so crucial for employers to stay competitive when it comes to the latest work perks. Luckily, many are aware of this, with 63% of employers in a recent survey claiming they believed their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to have a positive impact on staff retention, and 70% saying the same for recruitment. 

But with the benefits landscape changing so quickly, it can feel hard to keep up. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest employee benefit trends, and what employers need to watch out for in 2020. 

The encroaching end of the 9-5

From flexible hours to four-day weeks, through to hot desking and working from home – the focus on giving employees more freedom is set to continue with full force in 2020. While late starts and early finishes are accessible to many already, studies show that there’s going to be a real move towards remote working over the next few years. There’s no denying that the work-from-home movement is growing; in fact it’s starting to feel like it’s only a matter of time before we collectively bust out of this ‘archaic’ 9-5 way of life. 

 

We have the tech we need to join meetings from across the globe, and to want to become a ‘digital nomad’ is now a legitimate career option. In fact, recent data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) demonstrated that UK workers who have moved into remote-working has gone up by nearly a quarter of a million over the past 10 years. With this in mind, it’s clear that if employers want to stay competitive in 2020, a flexible, liberal and open-minded approach to modes of working is essential. Offering this may just be the only way they’re going to manage to retain those itchy-footed potential freelancers of the future. 

One for the mamas and the papas

With extended paternity (or partner) leave becoming more common, one trend that looks set to grow over the course of 2020 is that of improving and equalising parental leave. Earlier this year, drinks giant Diago (owner of Smirnoff and Baileys), and Aviva insurance were named the best UK companies for offering equal and substantial maternity and paternity leave to employees. But research shows that a worrying number of new parents feel unwilling to discuss parental leave with employers, and that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to eradicating the invisible ‘motherhood penalty’. 

Because so many companies are still only offering a couple of weeks’ paternity leave to dads, it’s the mums who are left having to take far more time off to care for their children. This results in them experiencing unfair blocks to progression at work, with one report showing that mothers are earning 15% less by the age of 33 than peers who have not had children. Taking lead from progressive companies like Aviva and Diago, employers need to show that they’re taking the paternity/maternity issue seriously if they want to stay current in 2020 and beyond.

The future is bright, bold and empathetic

There’s no doubt that employee benefits are taking on a whole new meaning, and if some of the more creative work perks of the past year are anything to go by – the future really does look bright. Some companies are now offering a ‘Life Concierge’ service that helps staff deal with anything from their laundry to childcare, to managing their debt. Another offers its staff their very own ‘Flexpot’ – an annual fund to spend on anything they want towards their own personal development. All this speaks to a world where company culture is built on understanding and empathy. Employers are clocking on to the fact that, by truly valuing, respecting and caring for their employees, they’ll be reaping the benefits of a satisfied and motivated workforce for years to come.

For employers who want to attract and retain top talent over the coming years, a shift in mentality may be required in order to keep up with the advancing way in which we view the world of work. From providing a creative, flexible office space where staff can come and go as they please, to offering compassionate services that solve genuine problems, benefits can no longer be seen as fluffy extras. Freedom, autonomy and ultimate life satisfaction may feel a lot to ask as an employee… but the question is, should it be?

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