By Steve Saah, Executive Director of Finance and Accounting Permanent Placement, Robert Half, and Megan Slabinski, District President, Robert Half

Has your organization recently updated the benefits and perks it offers? If so, you’re in good company. In a recent Robert Half survey, 88% of human resources managers said the COVID-19 pandemic had prompted their organization to add new offerings for employees.

Not so long ago, company perks like complimentary meals and discounted parking focused on making work at the office more appealing. With many employees working remotely now, either all or part of the time, firms have updated their offerings, with many now focusing on creating better health and work-life balance opportunities.

Leading employers also understand that they need to provide a compelling compensation package to recruit and retain in-demand talent in today’s highly competitive hiring market. Salaries and signing bonuses are important, but they’re not enough. The best compensation packages also include offerings that help employees enhance their quality of life, build their nest egg and plan for the future. They can also help build job satisfaction, retention and morale.

Here are some of the trends that we’re seeing with benefits and perks this year:

Priority shift to health

Before the pandemic, unlimited vacation time was one of the most popular and sought-after benefits for job seekers. Now, it’s health coverage, with candidates giving special consideration to employers offering 100% coverage.

More options to boost income

Some firms are increasing their 401(k) match percentages. Others are incorporating profit-sharing options so that employees can share in the organization’s overall success.

Coverage for home office equipment

As people continue to work from home, they expect their employers to cover the cost of desks, chairs, mobile phones, internet connectivity and more so that they can be as productive as possible when working remotely.

Enhanced schedule flexibility

Job seekers look for maximum flexibility in new roles. Hybrid arrangements, remote work or the option to work the hours when they’re at their best — even when these fall outside of traditional office hours — are all highly valued.

Track usage and assess communication effectiveness

The above trends show that employees have high expectations about benefits and perks, and employers are responding to meet them. However, research for the 2022 Robert Half Salary Guide found that what many organizations offer — and what many employees actually want or use — aren’t always well-aligned. For example:

  • Health insurance: 76% of employees want this benefit; 64% of employers offer it.
  • Flexible work schedules: 66% of employees want them; 47% of employers provide them.
  • Mental wellness benefits: 91% of employers offer these benefits; 32% of employees use them.

What should employers do with this data? The most critical takeaway centers on communication: Are you talking regularly with employees about what benefits and perks are most important to them? You can gather this insight through employee surveys, one-on-one meetings, onboarding sessions and exit interviews.

As you review usage stats, resist the urge to eliminate the benefits and perks that are rarely used before checking in with your employees. You may find that a lack of awareness is to blame for low usage. People may not know enough about a benefit or perk or haven’t heard much or anything about it since their orientation. Also, employees working remotely may not be hearing as often or directly from the company about what’s available to them.

For tips on strengthening corporate culture in the age of remote work, see this post.

Benchmark offerings and keep up communication

Savvy business leaders keep a close eye on the benefits and perks provided by other firms competing for talent in their industry and market. Consider talking with specialized recruiters to gather this intelligence: Recruiting professionals negotiate compensation packages every day for numerous clients and job seekers and can share which benefits are helping convince job candidates to accept an offer.

Once you have ample feedback from employees and recruiters, refine your benefits package to make it as appealing as possible. Again, communication is essential for success here: Plan to launch your updated offerings with a bit of fanfare. And to help boost the use of benefits and perks, make a point to remind employees (including remote team members) throughout the year about everything that’s available to them.

Also, make sure potential hires can easily learn details about the benefits and perks your company offers — on your website, through social media channels, in job descriptions and, of course, during the interview process.

It’s unlikely your business can supply all the benefits and perks that your workers would like to have. But if you can provide most of the offerings today’s professionals seek, you’ll likely have an easier time recruiting and retaining in-demand talent.

Follow Steve Saah on LinkedIn.

Follow Megan Slabinski on LinkedIn.