Kombucha on tap or working from home: What employee benefits do your people really care about?

I don’t know about you, but when I look back over my life so far, sometimes it feels like I’ve lived several lives.

For instance, it blows my mind that there was a point when I thought it was OK to wear double denim. (Actually, this seems to be making a comeback – that’s how many lives I’ve lived.) I believed wearing a purple Dr Martens boot on one foot and a green one on the other was the height of coolness, and the most important thing to me in the world was getting home from work in time to watch Neighbours.

Thankfully, tastes (and fashion) change. So do interests and values. Things we once considered important are replaced by new things as we move through life.

And now, well, I do believe I’ve reached a certain point in my life where kombucha on tap doesn’t have the same appeal it might have had when I was in my 20s.

Free kombucha is just one of many benefits employers are offering their people to encourage them to come back to the office post-COVID. According to this ABC News article, other perks include extra annual leave, free food, virtual golf courses and tennis lessons.

The reasoning is that some employers feel collaboration and innovation are being hampered by people wanting to work from home. So, they’re getting a little creative with office incentives.

It will be interesting to see how effective these strategies are over time. I personally think the idea of extra annual leave is great!

Yet, flexible work is something I highly value. I feel I do my best work at home (I’m a writer and need lots of concentration time), and it makes life as a mum so much easier for me. I’m so thankful EBA understands this. Everyone on our team practices hybrid work arrangements, and we all collaborate exceptionally well, no matter where we’re working.

So, this article got me thinking about employee benefits and incentives, and how different perks matter to different people and at different times in a person’s life.

Do employee benefits matter?

Absolutely! Compelling employee benefits can help you attract the right talent and improve productivity, engagement, retention and morale.

However, to ensure your benefits (and your employer brand) aren’t all style and no substance, it’s important to keep three things in mind:

1. Candidates look at the whole package

Rewards and incentives are great, but if the overall offering isn’t up to scratch, it’s difficult for employers to keep their people engaged and motivated, whether they’re in the office or working from home.

Take a look at your whole benefits package, including financial benefits (e.g. salary and bonuses) and non-financial (e.g. flexible work options and learning and development). How would you rate your mix of tangible and non-tangible benefits? How does it stack up compared with your competitors?

What about your workplace culture?
The impact people can make in a role with you?
Career progression and growth opportunities?

All these contribute to your employer brand and influence people’s decision to join you – and stay.

2. Benefits need to be meaningful

Fun incentives, such as a virtual golf course, can certainly add to a vibrant work culture. But these need to be balanced with some meaningful benefits that make a real difference in the lives of your people.

In fact, a study by SEEK found that 33% of workers cited work-life balance as the most important factor when choosing a company to work for. Only 2% were attracted by perks.

Of course, not every role or organisation can offer flexible work arrangements. Furthermore, not every employee wants to work from home.

That’s why employers must take the time to understand their people. What actually matters to them? Is it an in-house barista or the flexibility to make the school pick-up? Is it a free lunch or regular professional development? Is it a combination of some or all of these things?

You don’t need to offer an endless range of incentives. But by providing a few benefits that align with what’s important to your people and your company culture, you’ll support your people to find balance, maintain their wellbeing, and boost their morale and loyalty to you.

3. Let people know what you offer

At EBA, we talk to a lot of people, in a lot of different roles, in a lot of different industries. It’s surprising how often I’ve asked someone about their organisation’s employee benefits and they don’t know what they are!

You could offer the most wonderful incentives, but if your current team members and future talent don’t know about them, they don’t benefit anyone – including your organisation!

Regularly update your employees on the benefits you offer. Include them in your internal communications, job ads, people stories, careers pages and social media posts.

Let your people know how to access these benefits. For example, if you offer online courses, how can they sign up? What steps are involved? By making it easy for your people to know and understand what you offer, you’re more likely to keep them engaged, productive and with you for the long term.

Not sure how to communicate your benefits clearly and effectively? An authentic employee value proposition (EVP) provides the framework to connect your benefits and employee offering with the people who are right for you, and who you are right for. It will help you cut through the noise of a competitive talent market and position your organisation as a great choice.

Want to chat with us about it? Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help!

About the Author

When Lauren Forcey isn’t writing compelling content that amplifies an organisation’s employer brand, you’ll either find her running stupidly long distances or eating snacks. Actually, she’s usually doing both, at once. She’s also a mum, wife, journalist and former small business owner ... and still wrestles with the fame that came with winning the healthy cake baking competition at the Royal Darwin Show one year. As Senior Storyteller at EBA, Lauren uses the power of storytelling to give an authentic insight into the people, values and culture of an organisation, touching hearts and inspiring people to act!

About Employer Branding Australia

We exist to help you attract the best talent and keep them engaged. Together, we’ll create and promote your 'Why work for us?' and turn your authentic people stories into your most powerful marketing tool.

Contact us today for a free, honest assessment of your employer branding opportunity.

e: hello@employerbrandingaustralia.com

t: +61 (0)7 3709 1003