We’ve all learned and grown exponentially in the past year. And with those experiences come a shift in priorities. Job seekers are no different as their expectations for employee benefits and perks have changed in some subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The only way to stay competitive in a job market that’s set to heat up (maybe to its highest level in a decade) is to meet job seekers where they are on benefits and perks expectations. Here are five areas they’ll be looking at:
- They want mental health support. While most other health claims have decreased during the pandemic, mental-health-related claims have gone up. Willis Towers Watson reports half of Millennials and an astounding 64% of Gen Z (the youngest adults in the workforce) report poor mental health lately. It’s a topic we’ll dive into deeper later this month (stay tuned for that post), but it’s worth mentioning here. Nearly all employers (94%) offer some sort of telebehavioral health services, with 62% boosting their mental health services and stress/resilience management this year (up 20% from last year).
- They want to be offered more PTO. More than half of employees will take more generous PTO, vacation days and sick leave at the expense of losing other benefits. The desire for more PTO has grown during the pandemic as caregiving duties increased and extended COVID-related absences (for both illnesses and exposures). In response, more than half of employers have tweaked their time off policies with changes like more PTO, exceptions for COVID-related absences, and increased carryover for PTO and vacation/sick benefits.
- They want more inclusive family planning benefits. “Aspiring parents can be facing often hidden stress and trauma related to fertility issues, miscarriage, or adoption and are in critical need of education, support, and resources,” says family benefit advising organization Cleo. These aspiring parents make up a big section of your workforce and they don’t fit a one-size-fits all maternity benefits package. Paternal leave, same-sex couple or single-parent adoption and surrogacy, foster parenting, optimal support for black mothers (who are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth), and more are all benefit areas that get overlooked.
- They want financial tools. PwC found that financial stress has increased for 63% of employees since the start of the pandemic. What’s more, 72% say they would contemplate switching jobs if another company cared more about their financial well-being. That number is, once again, greatest among Millennials and Gen Z. “Younger workers are more prone to monetary concerns than their older counterparts, due to a lack of savings and other factors,” Employee Benefit News reports. Competitive salaries help, but so do 401k programs and other financial vehicles they likely won’t set up on their own, including payroll-deducted emergency savings accounts. Beyond that, “caregiving benefits, student loan repayment options and wealth management tools can help the full generational spectrum navigate financial challenges.”
- They want the option to work remotely. Like it or not, hybrid work is here to stay. A whopping 82% of employers told Gartner their organizations will permit office employees to work remotely at least part of the time even after the pandemic (47% are willing to allow full-time remote). A recent XpertHR poll found that 92% of employers will remain flexible, allowing work-from-home options for those requesting it. That means onsite gyms, free lunches, happy hours and snacks at the office have lost their appeal, while “stipends for work-from-home set-ups, technology and other perks to engage remote employees will likely come into play,” says Human Resource Executive.
Of course, no employer—especially when it comes to small and midsize businesses—can offer every trending perk. But what these studies show us is that perks that embody a responsive and supportive corporate culture are what employees are searching for. If you’re unsure your benefits and perks are up to the task, talk to your outside recruiters about what they’re seeing when it comes to the evolving wish lists of job seekers.
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