In order to recruit – and retain – the best and the brightest, employers around the world are increasingly adopting and devising new perks and benefits to keep their staff happy.
Just take a look at the Canva office, resplendent with their own full-time on-site professional chef and a rock-climbing wall, or a satirical hand-drawn window into Google via the soon-to-be-published cartoons of an engineer at the search engine.
But what benefits do employees want most? According to research commissioned by HR software firm Employment Hero, which surveyed 1,001 full-time and part-time employees across Australia, flexible working was the most sought-after workplace benefit (59 per cent).
Flexible working was more important to women employees in particular (62 per cent) and part time workers (63 per cent).
Employees are also looking for ways to save on their expenses, with 32 per cent saying they’d like their company to offer discounts on electricity, gas and water and 29 per cent wanting petrol discounts.
Around a quarter of respondents said they would like free meals (27 per cent), supermarket discounts (26 per cent), and luxuries such as subsidised massages and fitness memberships (25 per cent)
Further upskilling and educational options were also a priority for 30 per cent of respondents.
Why we love flexible working
Conrad Liveris, a corporate adviser on workplaces and risk, says the allure of flexible working indicated two things: greater choice and greater trust.
“Staff want the choice to do their job in their own way, not a cookie-cutter 9-5 at a desk,” he told Yahoo Finance. Furthermore, if you’re being hired – the implication is that you should “inherently” be trusted to do your job.
“But most businesses don’t apply flexible working at all or widely enough to have an impact. If bosses trust someone enough to work for them, they should trust them to work on their own terms.”
On top of that, technology has been nothing short of a mammoth driver of change in all aspects of our lives, with several work functions moving to the cloud and making remote working possible.
“Technology is giving us so many options to work in different ways and more of us are wanting to try them out,” Liveris said. Beyond that, it offers more flexibility to fit work around an employee’s life.
Employment Hero CEO Ben Thompson noted that technology had blurred the lines between work and life as well as increasing the speed of communication and operational efficiency.
“Generations entering the workforce have grown up with this technology. They have grown up with iPhones and iPads and expect speed and flexibility as a norm.
“This has seen the rise of the gig economy, where an increasing number of the workforce have opted for employment options that let them utilise technology and chose the terms of their work.
“All this has led to an increasing demand for flexibility in mainstream workplaces. It doesn’t surprise me as most other parts of the economy, even our expectations of banking and government, are already using technology to be more efficient and flexible.”
Are we prepared for flexible working?
However, most managers aren’t being adequately trained for flexible working policies. “The truth is that flexible working is a really big shift for a lot of people,” Liveris said.
“When you consider that most managers were trained in a certain way of working, which is generally more traditional 9-5 to what we have now, it’s a big psychological shift going on.
“Workplaces simply fail to invest in adequate management training for flexible working. That’s what the problem [is] facing uptake and then delivery of flexible working.
“You can’t expect a pilot to know what to do on the first day, running a workplace is the same. You want your team to soar, they need support.”