Employee benefits to help the cost of work

Female worker frustrated

Employees are feeling the costs of going to work. All the little expenses add up; the cost of commuting, parking, buying work clothes, buying that morning coffee that isn't strictly necessary but certainly feels like it is. And there's time suck - waking at the crack of dawn, swallowing a hastily blended smoothie, catching a bus bursting to the brim with fellow commuters... Personal time goes down the drain. Gone is your window to relax, to hang with family and friends, to take your dog on a walk. Stress and burnout are inevitable.

There's a delicate balance between work and personal life. Most feel pressured to prioritise work. After all, there are expenses. But when those expenses overshadow benefits, job satisfaction, engagement, and performance all suffer. Thankfully, there are measures management can take.

Managing cost of work

Pre-pandemic, it was unquestioned that employees carry the costs of work. However, this tradition is now challenged with many pointing out the lack of evidence between work location and performance. In fact, research shows that in-office work does not significantly impact performance.

Businesses are finding it increasingly more difficult to attract and retain talent. Many are attempting to fine-tune their hybrid policies. Some are fighting to directly ease costs of work.

For example, Disney’s Commuter Assistance program helps their employees and cast members optimise their commute to work and offers them travel incentives. But that’s not the only creative solution out there. Some other options include:

  • Businesses that demand in-office work can help employees buy nearby housing. Company-owned apartments near the office are also a possibility.
  • The pandemic made families value reliable and flexible childcare, eldercare, and pet care. Leading companies offer targeted benefits like onsite or shared drop-in childcare. Some offer recommendations for pet care providers. Some offer on-call access to skilled care providers for eldercare support.
  • More and more companies are offering financial planning and education services for employees.

“Perks, like gift cards, cash, mental health retreats and wellness programs, that reward Gen Z for professional performance keep Gen Z happy and working in one place.” - Forbes

Older professional contemplating

PTO minimums

HR professionals like to point out that vacations are great for company culture. Not only do they make employees want to stick around for the long term, but they also boost productivity. A perk that’s currently making the rounds - in more progressive companies - are PTO requirements. PTO requirements twist employees’ arms to take a certain number of days off per year. Some companies go even further, allowing unlimited time off. You may think that goes a bit too far, but it’s actually pretty rare for employees to abuse the privilege. After all, as long as you get all your work done, who cares if you spend a month on the French Riviera?  

But no matter the policy, the point is for employees to take time off. Some time spent at the beach is a great cure for Monday blues.

Office worker relaxed during lunch break

Parental leave

Managers want to keep the employees they have and lower their turnover rate. The key question - how?

In the opinion of many, offering more parental leave is low-hanging fruit.

As any parent will tell you, child-raising years are stressful. So, if new parents are given suitable workplace benefits, they’ll stay for the long-term. With kids in their future, they value stability, and would much rather stay somewhere they know and are comfortable in. Give them that reason to stay. Some of the biggest companies in the world offer enticing parental leave perks. Netflix gives new parents up to a whole year of paid leave. Spotify gives three months, but which can be used over the first three years of the child’s life.

Dad preparing to send child off

Four-day work weeks

In 1926, Henry Ford transformed the workplace by implementing the five-day workweek. A radical move at the time, Ford reasoned that more leisure would lead to higher productivity. While the industrialist’s altruism invited scepticism, the change saw widespread adoption. It has remained the paradigm to date. That is, until the Covid pandemic. Exposure to remote work and a desire for more personal time led to calls for a four-day workweek. In a 2023 report by Gartner, it was found that 63% of employees would choose a four-day workweek with 10% less pay over a five-day workweek.

“…organisations in 2024 will use four-day workweeks to improve both talent outcomes, such as employee engagement, performance, and well-being, and business outcomes, including eliminating inefficiencies, attracting and retaining talent, and driving competitive advantage.” – Harvard Business Review

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