It’s 2022 and the workplace has rapidly evolved in the past couple of years, representing a shift in attitudes and demands. Some of which paint a brighter future for work-life balance, and those who want to improve the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families. 

As the world embraces change, what do the past couple of years teach us about employee benefits in 2022 and beyond? What does COVID-19 have to do with wellbeing in the workplace, and why do leaders need to listen and lead right now?

COVID-19 has accelerated the demand for employee wellbeing benefits

Employee wellbeing isn’t a new concept. The idea of building healthier, happier teams has always been at the forefront of forward-thinking companies. However, nearly all businesses have had to adopt wellbeing a lot more in the past couple of years, with the pandemic causing two things: 

  1. Accelerated the demand for employee benefits that focus on employee wellbeing.
  2. Shown us just how fragile existing wellbeing programmes can be. 

As conversations on mental health swept across the workplace at the height of the pandemic, the stigma around mental health began to disappear. Unfortunately, there’s still so much to do to completely eradicate this stigma, but it seems society is moving in a much healthier direction. 

In April of 2020, 49% of US adults were found to have more mental stress; with 35% in May 2020 and 26% in June of the same year. Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted overall happiness in a lot of people around the world. 

Since then, it has been suggested that mental health benefits could be the swaying decision for employees. In one survey, 76% of employees believed mental health benefits are critical in evaluating a new job.

In 2022 and beyond, there will be a growing demand for healthier working environments, with an openness to mental health. In fact, it will be in the perks and initiatives that people will demand improvements. When it comes to leaders, it will be forward-thinking businesses that are adapting to these demands that will thrive this year and the next.

Personalized employee benefits with a focus on lifestyle 

Wellbeing isn’t as linear as many people think. This applies both in and outside the workplace. What works for one colleague, simply won’t work for another. Once leaders understand this, they can start to really build a personalized employee benefits experience. 

That’s because employee wellbeing benefits can only be truly successful with personalized packages. Ensuring every employee in every business is considered. 

It isn’t enough to throw together several employee benefits that focus on wellbeing, as your workforce is likely made up of several generations. Each of which will have its preferences of wellbeing incentives you should offer.

For instance, Millennials and Gen Z workers are very health-conscious, with a huge interest in physical fitness. Trying to incentivize the workplace with fitness based benefits is a great choice for this generation. 

However, the same can’t always be said for older generations, who may be more interested in more holistic wellbeing experiences. 

Ultimately, it’s about getting a great balance of wellbeing focused employee benefits that cater for everyone. Before you go about choosing a provider, consider everybody in your team and look for a platform or provider that allows for personalization.

In one survey, employees with 1 to 5 benefits responded being 66% energized at work. However, it turns out employees with more benefits (those with 10+) responded being around 75% energized. This shows us just how important varied and personalized benefits really are to workers.

As we’ve already begun to see, this year employees will strongly demand personalized experiences when it comes to employee benefits, having an even stronger dislike for generic, meaningless incentives in the workplace. If leaders want to attract and retain their best talent this year, they must listen, and listen carefully. And then act.

Employee benefits need to stop the ‘Great Resignation’ in its tracks

If the ‘Great Resignation’ of late 2021 has proven anything, it’s that many people simply aren’t happy with their jobs. Remote and hybrid working has taken the workplace by storm, with employees around the world realizing there are better opportunities to be had. 

As offices reopen once again, work-life balance returns to an unhealthy state for thousands of employees. This record-breaking high of resignations reinforces the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and shows us the directions employee benefits have begun to take.

In fact, it appears the Great Resignation is happening around the world, with the US reporting a high of 4.5M people quitting their jobs in November of last year. 

If leaders want the Great Resignation to impact less on their workforce, they must realign company culture and flexible working, and create the people-centric approach employees now demand. 

A more health-conscious generation entering the workforce

Finally, and as touched on above, Millennials and Gen Z employees are beginning to make up the largest segment of the workforce. Accounting for nearly 50% globally. It’s estimated that by 2030, around 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. 

We’ve already begun to see the changing landscape of employee benefits when it comes to forward-thinking companies. This is in their emphasis on providing health and wellbeing focused incentives. 

For example, tech giants like Netflix, Microsoft and Salesforce offer robust on-site fitness facilities, a range of fertility and family planning perks and healthy flexible working arrangements such as hybrid or remote work. While this only scratches the surface of what these companies offer, it’s very clear that employee benefits come in many different forms.

What’s more, around 83% of Millennial workers say how a job role will impact their work-life balance is the biggest factor. Further reinforcing the idea that health and wellbeing must come first in the future employee benefits landscape. 

In another survey, almost three-quarters of Millennial workers believed their employer should play a role in helping to manage and reduce workplace stress. 

Fundamentally, the largest segment of the workforce is beginning to change. One that is more health-conscious, spends more on fitness clothing and supplements, and ultimately wants to lead healthier lifestyles. If anything there really isn’t a bigger shift in the employee benefits landscape of 2022 and beyond than this particular one.   

Now that we’re aware of the various trends of employee benefits, and the driving force health and wellbeing will have. How do you get buy-in from managers and leaders for wellbeing initiatives? This leadership buy-in guide can help create a robust plan of action to build healthier, happier teams! 

Credit: Alex Hind is the CEO and co-founder of Heka, an employee wellbeing platform that provides thousands of personalized health and wellbeing experiences to teams across the UK.

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The changing demands of employee benefits in the workplace in 2022