Back to the future: what benefits will employees want in the future? Employee engagement is key to maintaining strong levels of productivity and reducing costs of recruitment, and staff benefits can form a large part of an organisation’s engagement strategy. Yet for many HR managers creating a benefits package is often based on what’s available or worse, taking the ‘one package, fits all’ approach. It’s vital to clearly understand what employees want from benefits packages now and in the future as they progress through the company. We recently surveyed over 1,000 employees aged 18-65 to ascertain just that: what benefits are essential to them now and what will they want in the future. Forming part of our ‘Future of Benefits’ campaign, the research found that by 2025 the most coveted employee benefit will be flexible working, as workers consider work/life balance to be the most important perk the workplace can offer them. Many ‘nice to have’ benefits such as free gym membership or extra days off were completely overlooked in favour of the ability to work flexibly with almost half of employees (49%) hoping to achieve an improved work/life balance in the future. This benefit was particularly popular with those from age 25 to 65+, and even some of the youngest age group (18-24) recognise the benefits of working flexible hours with 30% choosing it as a top priority. The research also found that although a third of respondents want fixed working hours, two thirds either want the freedom to work whenever and from wherever they want or to have some degree of flexibility within a fixed working period. The flexibility required by the gig economy was also acknowledged by respondents with 46% claiming they’d like to be able to balance two jobs in the future. Clearly HR departments will be challenged by managing employees who have multiple employers. Team building experiences come next on the future wish list, with 46% of employees ear-marking away days and nights out with their colleagues as being something they’d like to do more of in the future. And, furthering the need for HR to consider flexible working policies, the ability to work from home came in as the third most popular future workplace benefit with 43% of those surveyed claiming they’d like the opportunity to work at home in the future. John Arnold, a professor of organisational behaviour at Loughborough University observes, “There has been a notable increase in the past decade in the benefits that promote physical and psychological well-being. However, these tend to be seen as ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘must have’ by many employees, who obviously care more about benefits that enable them to manage their own lives in their own way.” It’s clear that the workforce is keen to move away from the 9-5 culture as they reject being chained to a desk every day. This means that organisations need to take steps now to address their current working practices and assess the realities of offering staff the ability to work more flexibly. On a practical level, companies are also going to look at providing employees with the tools to enable flexible working such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. For some businesses, the capital outlay required to provide staff with these devices might be prohibitive. Some could consider using salary sacrifice schemes that offer employees access to the latest technology and smartphones at discounted rates, and paid for monthly means that employers can offer staff the ability to work more flexibly, using the device of their choosing. The full list of the top ten most coveted employee benefits (aside from financial reward) for the future are: Flexi time/work-life balance (49%) Team building experience (46%) Work from home scheme (43%) Pension (42%) Holiday pay (38%) Sick pay (35%) Education funding for advancement of learning (31%) Healthcare (31%) On-site parking (31%) Stress counselling (29%) What was also interesting was how priorities changed depending on age, experience and of course seniority. For companies looking at packages currently, talking to employees and investigating the benefits that are important will help to engage and boost morale. For those who want to learn more about the findings, click here to download our Future of Employee Benefits report. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About Grass Roots: Beginning life in Bath in 2005 as a small tax-free cycle to work provider, Cyclescheme was born out of the Government’s green transport plan to get people healthier and greener by regularly cycling to work. Eleven years later, working within the Grass Roots Group, we have grown into one of the largest providers of employee benefits via the MySchemes product range. Cyclescheme has become the best in the cycle to work industry, servicing over 40,000 companies and helping more than half a million people to save money on a new cycle to work bike. The MySchemes platform allows employers to offer technology benefits, free of charge, through Phonescheme for mobile phones and Computingscheme for technology equipment. MySchemes also offers an employee benefit for childcare, Childcarescheme. The Grass Roots Group is the world’s leading provider of employee and customer engagement solutions. Founded in the UK in 1980, we have offices in 15 locations throughout the world and deliver services in over 100 countries. Grass Roots Group companies have over 14,000 clients, including 41 of the FTSE 100, 104 of the FT Global 500. To find out more, visit www.grassrootsgroup.com.