The employees’ market

In today’s workplace environment, expectations around employee benefits are changing, with the norm shifting in the employee’s favour. For many, the days of a 9-5 workday and mandatory workplace attendance are a distant memory, to the point where flexible hours and working environments are considered a bare minimum.

As the war for talent has evolved, so to have employee expectations and what employers are willing to provide to not only meet, but also exceed those expectations. It is also being acknowledged as not only a means to attract talent, but also as a way to increase productivity in the workplace.

Take Google for example, whose ethos is to cater to their employees’ wellbeing as much as possible. Their sites include wellness centres, access to second medical opinions, as well as Employee Assistance Programs for mental health. Employees adopt a hybrid work model, working from home two days each week, and have four ‘work from anywhere’ weeks per year. In addition, they offer a range of insurance and health programs, while offering on-site meals and snacks.

While the benefits at Google are vast and appealing, they come across as relatively ordinary when compared to benefits offered by other employers. Some of the more extreme ones include:

  • “Pawternity” leave – paid time off to care for a new pet
  • Fertility treatments – contributing towards treatments or paying to freeze eggs
  • Nap rooms – places in the office to take a quick 20-minute nap
  • Massages – regular massages for those sitting at a desk all day
  • Unlimited vacation leave – you can take as much time off, provided your work gets done
  • Despite how attractive some of these benefits may seem, is there a more cynical side to them? We all aim to achieve ‘work-life balance’, but it appears as though work is seeping into every aspect of our life.
  • A free work dinner sounds fantastic, but it requires an employee being in the office at dinner time in order to benefit. When the employer gets an extra couple of hours of productivity in exchange for a cheap meal, the lines between who the real beneficiary is starts to blur. It’s also great that an employer may be willing to pay for egg freezing or IVF treatments, but a pessimist may suggest that the long hours their employees spend at work are what necessitates it in the first place.
  • Regardless, the benefits an employer offers are now becoming a vital part of the employee offering. Employees have a renewed sense of what they consider should be standard practice, and are more willing to jump ship if an employer fails to meet their expectations.
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