Despite having been around for a while now, the popularity of remote work quickly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home not only allowed employers to potentially save on future costs and manage the challenges brought about by the pandemic, but also offered their employees flexibility and autonomy.
Some employees work from home primarily because they live too far from the office to commute, possibly in another state entirely. Others just prefer to work at home. This makes some employers uncomfortable, because they believe if they can see the employee working, they’re working, and productively. And if they can’t, they just aren’t sure.
If it’s possible to shift from tracking how many hours a person works to what that employee is producing (whether it’s sales figures, number of tasks completed, or something else), that should allay that concern.
If employees get the job done, employers shouldn’t care about from where they are doing it. And if it makes a valued employee happier and less likely to leave the company, so much the better.
Here are some reasons to embrace allowing employees to work from home.
- Some employees will be more productive working at home, without office distractions.
- Some will feel valued and honored by letting them work where they feel more comfortable.
- New mothers and fathers, for whom coming into the office would cause a huge hurdle.
- New employees who you want to hire because you like their expertise/value or something else, who are not going to relocate to where your business is.
However, the shift to remote work has also sparked questions on whether continuing remote staff should receive the same employee benefits as more companies fully embrace remote work. (And possibly should the compensation package remain the same, which is another article unto itself.) The lack of traditional benefits and perks for remote employees coupled with the unique needs and challenges of remote work, may mean employers need to find a balance in their offerings if they want to attract and keep top talent.
But, if your company views remote employees as an opportunity, or your employees are practically demanding to continue remote employment, inferring that they may look elsewhere if not, you might want to rethink your strategies proactively.
Why You Should Consider Offering Remote Staff Unique Benefits
Some employers may believe that working remotely is a perk in unto itself that negates the need to offer the employees other benefits. However, offering remote staff employee benefits comes with advantages that make it a worthwhile consideration and helps you stay competitive.
Let’s face it, most employees would prefer a company that offers perks over one that doesn’t. This also boosts employee morale as you make them feel valued, which in turn increases employee productivity and overall revenue for the company.
Since remote work comes with isolation from colleagues, offering remote staff certain unique employee benefits counteracts the feelings that can come with missing out on in-office interactions and activities. This contributes to employee wellness and health in the long term.
One of the most significant benefits of offering remote staff employee benefits is reducing turnover. By providing thoughtful benefit packages, you boost your remote employees’ job satisfaction, encouraging them to stay with you longer. In this case, you lower your recruitment costs and enjoy the perks of working with a well-trained team.
Benefits to Consider Offering Remote Staff
Generally, your remote staff should receive the same employee benefits without counting remote work as an advantage. That said, the benefits you offer remote workers should mirror your company culture, meet their needs, and be in line with your budget. Below are offerings you can include in your remote staff benefits package.
- Flexible work hours and paid time off. Doing so provides better work-life balance and prevents burnout.
- Wellness programs to promote a healthy lifestyle. This can include stipends for gym memberships and exercise classes as well as counseling and therapy sessions.
- Home office support: Provide remote workers with the necessary technology and resources to set up a home office. This includes reimbursement for a computer and work-related expenses such as internet connectivity charges, maintenance fees and more.
- Coworking office rent. Some companies will pay the rent of a coworking office space so that remote workers do not have to work out of their homes every day. This might also include paying commuter travel fees.
- Learning and professional development: Provide avenues and opportunities for the employee professional development to promote career growth. You can also offer a learning stipend for career-related training.
- Parental leave and childcare benefits. Some companies provide professional care giving services to cater to parents who have to juggle between working from home and caring for the kids in the same environment.
- Home delivery subscriptions: For employers who provide in-office coffee or meals, you can include home delivery subscriptions for remote workers to blend the office culture with the remote environment.
- Variable pay. Some companies adjust pay based on the cost of living where you reside. For example, employees in Tier 1 cities like Manhattan would earn more because it costs them more to live there.
As feeling a sense of connection to others in the company is critical to employee retention, some companies also provide ways to stay connected. For example, they might do a regular online get-together where employees assemble and talk about non-work-related things, such as hobbies.
One company we interviewed randomly pairs together two remote employees (or one remote employee and one non-remote employee) for 30-minute online chats called “Virtual Coffees.” They also offer reimbursement up to $15 for lunch once a week. And they try to get all their employees together once a year at an offsite event, with plenty of opportunities for mingling.
Another provides a $40 stipend per person when any three or more employees (at least one of them virtual) get together for dinner or drinks. They also offer a $75 quarterly entertainment bonus to attend concerts, shows and the like.
It is important for remote employees to receive employee benefits. However, the type of benefits may vary depending on the type of work, individual employee needs, budget, and company culture. By striking the right balance, you can adequately support your remote staff and make them feel valued, which ultimately boosts their job satisfaction and contributes to overall company success.
Finding reliable employees today is hard enough. There are many people, men and women alike, who are being forced to pass on their jobs because good daycare is too expensive, or it’s too difficult to find reliable childcare help. Many employed parents do not really have an option that ensures the safety of their children. A number of progressive companies that offered remote work for employees with children are willing to accept the challenge again and offer onsite daycare. They are doing what they need to do to get good employees back into the office.
Employees with children face the dilemma of earning a paycheck only to turn most of it over to their daycare provider. The amount of money many parents clear after this single transaction often won’t pay a utility bill, let alone provide substantial support for their family. They have two basic options. They can find a job that allows them to work remotely, or they can quit their job and go on financial assistance.
One of the biggest worries for many parents is that they are unavailable to their children while they are at work. Onsite daycare eliminates that worry, giving parents opportunities to connect briefly with their children and to be there for them in case of an emergency. Parents can check on their children at any time during the day giving them both peace of mind and security.
Offering daycare/childcare for parents who have small children can be a financial and emotional lifesaver that will allow your employee to give you their very best all day, every day. And consider how much this helps build loyalty!
You need not put the entire burden on the company. It is reasonable to require some co-payment from the employees using your daycare. But it will still be much more convenient, and cost far less than a household would have to pay themselves.
Be sure to learn your state’s regulations concerning childcare. Before you open the door to onsite childcare/daycare, learn as much as you can about your state’s regulations for the childcare industry. There are rules, but nothing too onerous that companies can’t manage.
Instead of turning away some of the best workers, give them what they need to be successful. Providing quality childcare to parents who need it the most gives you an opportunity to explore what talent is actually available. They get to earn (and keep) the majority of their paycheck, and you have access to a workforce who is grateful to be able to provide for their family.
Whatever benefits you choose to provide, total compensation reports, like those from COMPackage, allow you to show your employees their true total package. This can be a great support in both recruiting and retention, just as company-supported childcare can be.
As the economy continues to improve, the need for young skilled workers is rising. For many companies, the need for finding, hiring, and retaining workers can be challenging. Compound this by the changes in needs and expectations that Millennial and Gen Z workers have brought to the workplace, and you have the perfect storm.
Today, companies need to look beyond compensation when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. You need to look at your corporate philosophy and culture. To win the battle for the top talent, you need to build a strong employer brand.
Here are a few ways savvy companies are winning the battle for talent.
Offer Clarity to Applicants about Your Company’s Core Values
When you have a clear set of defined values and are open and honest with applicants before and during interviews, both prospective hires and those doing the hiring will have a clear idea if they fit before actually working together.
The key is to make sure that the values you’re expressing are authentic. Imitating another businesses’ value set is a big mistake. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to spell out your company’s core values. Speak with your standout team members and ask them what keeps them around; you’ll likely begin to notice distinct patterns.
Once you’ve defined your core values, make sure you walk the walk! Live your values day-in and day-out. Many companies have a list of core values, but what matters is that they are grounded in behaviors. For example, if you say you’re committed to personal growth, but do not have a budget to pay for employees to take courses, your candidates will see right through it.
As past CEO of Pittsburgh’s leading advertising agency, and now President of this blog’s host, COMPackage.com, we developed eight core values at my agency by pulling the management team together and throwing everything at the wall that represented any of their core values here. Then we asked the question: can we operate without this one, and that one. We came down to eight that we could not live without. That was after combining terms like honesty, truthfulness, integrity as one (Integrity). There were several like that. We probably started with over 50, and condensed it to eight. Then we came up with a term that the first letter of each spelled that term, and drilled “GOT RICE” into everyone’s minds, so that they could all probably today recite at least five out of eight of them… and that was over 20 years ago! Email me if you want to know what GOT RICE stands for. Or tell me, and I might send you a gift. J
What Today’s Talent is Looking For
Smart HR professionals are highlighting cultures that reflect the needs and expectations of Millennials and Gen Z workers. Beyond the basics of being a great place to work, what these newest members of the workforce are seeking are:
- Work/Life Balance – While these workers are dedicated and hard-working, it’s important for companies to understand that they have a life outside of work. Policies like flex time, telecommuting, and the ability to donate time to causes they believe in are important differentiators that can help you attract talent.
- A Strong Sense of Social Responsibility – Companies that are diverse in their hiring, support their local communities, and/or offer paid time off for employees to donate their time are attractive to potential hires. Millennials and Gen Z workers value businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible.
- Safety and Respect in the Workplace – In a respectful workplace, employees are more engaged and productive. Treating your workers with respect can instill confidence and offer much-needed encouragement. Workers who feel safe and respected while at work, are more satisfied. Respect improves knowledge sharing and boosts the bottom line!
- The Ability to Advance Their Career – While both Millennials and Gen Z prefer to work independently, both are looking for guidance. Mentorship programs where new hires are paired with experienced employees are an attractive benefit. Offering a program where employees can switch their core focus is also a big draw. For example, Newmark, a real estate firm, offers a two-year program where employees switch positions every six-months to learn about the business, and also to identify where they excel.
While compensation is secondary for a large percentage of millennials and others, it’s still a significant factor. So it’s essential to make sure you show them the total value of their package that includes benefits beyond their paychecks. Total compensation reports are the way to do it.
As the workforce continues to tighten, companies must begin to think beyond compensation to attract and retain the best talent. By defining your company’s core values, and implementing policies that today’s workers are seeking, you can begin to win the battle for the top talent.