Now that more of the professional workforce is working remotely, employers are being forced to rethink the sorts of benefits they can offer to attract new staff and prevent their existing employees from going elsewhere.
A survey of more than 1,000 professionals by Paychex found that employees who update their benefits packages to new working preferences benefit from greater productivity, higher job satisfaction and better company culture as a result.
Paychex, a company providing payroll and HR services to small and medium-sized businesses, found that 65% of employees whose benefits had changed since switching to remote work reported an increased level of job satisfaction, while 73% of employees noted that productivity levels had improved when employers adjusted their benefits package.
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Likewise, 64% of employees whose company had updated their benefits had no plans to leave within the next year, compared to 47% of those whose work benefits had not changed.
The most common benefit updates for remote workers included flexible-working hours and performance bonuses. When asked which additional benefits they most wanted, however, employees placed a home office stipend (31%) and reimbursement for internet costs (30%) in the top two spots.
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A four-day work week was also a top desire amongst employees, particularly older workers. The notion of reducing employees' working hours is quickly gaining traction: just this week, the world's biggest trial of the four-day work week kicked off with the aim of exploring its impact on productivity, job satisfaction and employee wellbeing.
Paychex found that only 45% of respondents to its survey reported a change in company benefits since switching to remote work. However, it found that both employers and employees stood to gain from adjusting perk packages in light of evolving work patterns and preferences.
Employers most often noted an improvement in employee morale (67%) and productivity (63%) after they updated their benefits packages. Paychex noted that, given how severely staff morale had been tested over the past two years, "it's encouraging to see a path to improvement."
Employers (43%) and employees (58%) also noticed improvements in workplace diversity since adjusting to remote work: 24% of leaders said they had started hiring employees working in other states since going remote, meaning they are casting a wider net when it came to recruitment.
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That said, one-third of employers still reported limiting where their employees could live, Paychex found.
"The evidence strongly supports the positive impact of employers adapting their benefits to suit new remote work cultures. But adapting them without careful thought generally won't cut it," said Paychex.
"Instead, employers should listen to the specific wants of their employees and engage in a positive feedback cycle. Employers who do this will likely enjoy benefits ranging from increased productivity to greater diversity and improved morale."