By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. During a pandemic, this statement is more true than ever. Smart employers are adjusting the perks at work for employees to better reflect a focus on health and wellbeing. Adding hand sanitizer stations to the workplace has gone from being trivial and overlooked to mandatory and potentially life-saving.
But hand sanitizer alone just isn’t enough. Employers are desperate to attract and retain the best employees. When employers encourage healthy lifestyle habits, it creates a better workplace for everyone. Compensation packages, benefits, and perks are being adjusted to take the new normal into account.
If you have a heightened focus on workplace safety, then you understand this need for companies to adjust their workplace approach. Join me now as I review how employers are creatively innovating to keep you safe in the new normal.
Unemployment has gone up dramatically due to the spread of coronavirus. Many businesses have had to close or reduce hours. Many workers have changed jobs, retired early, or left the workforce entirely to protect their health. Employers who increase their focus on protecting the health of their workers have an advantage over those who can’t or won’t.
The primary purpose of a benefits package and perks at work is to create a deeper relationship between the employee and the employer. They foster a culturally rich and diverse workplace. Happy workers are more productive and more loyal, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to make the workplace safe and comfortable.
Employee perks like 401K retirement plans and paid time off used to be at the top of the list of desirable benefits. Today there are more immediate health concerns that will have a long-term impact on the employee-employer relationship. Effective managers and corporate officers are learning how to rebalance long-term benefits with the increased need for health and safety in the workplace.
Working from home is the most popular and highest-profile strategy for protecting employee health from infectious diseases. It’s not just safer; it increases the amount of free time you have. Many employees like working from home, and it provides advantages for the employer, as well. In some sectors, working from home has improved productivity and reduced absenteeism, so smart managers with good leadership skills are looking for creative ways to make it more available.
Shortening work hours and staggering shifts have also helped increase social distancing in the office, but these options aren’t available for everyone. Emergency services, manufacturing work, construction, and many other jobs require their employees to be present in-person to do the work. But even in these industries, there are adjustments that can be made.
Providing personal protective equipment and training on how to use it helps employees stay safe whether they are at work or at home. Education on proper handwashing techniques and personal hygiene are the most effective ways to reduce the spread of sickness and disease. The more we know, the safer we will be.
Many companies promote the idea that the workplace should feel like a family so people can feel more at home. Happy employees contribute, are more productive, and are more likely to stay in their roles. Good managers know that trust and respect are the most effective ways to promote workplace happiness.
How can you as an employee earn more trust and respect, and how can your employer promote this activity? One of the most effective ways is through participating in a professional development plan.
Every employer wants their workers to improve their skills, grow, and develop, but they also want to retain workers. An effective professional development plan helps workers add more value to the company. As workers learn and grow, they can become eligible for promotion to positions with more responsibilities and opportunities. Not every employee will stay with the company, but smart managers know that helping workers grow will create a better workplace. Professional development serves as a work perk for employees, but it also benefits employers.
Tuition reimbursement is one of the most obvious ways to promote professional development. While some employees will get a degree and then leave the company, many employees stay. Employers who offer tuition reimbursement inspire loyalty in their people—even the ones who don’t use the perk. It is a powerful sign of trust, respect, and real concern for employee wellbeing. It’s hard to leave a company that makes you feel valued.
Many workers who go to college part-time end up staying with the company after they graduate. Their degree often enhances their ability to provide value to the company, so they get a promotion and more responsibility. This kind of in-house promotion creates a sense of ownership and responsibility in employees that cannot be overestimated.
The better you fit your position, the more likely you will feel important, useful, and needed. The more training and professional development you get, the more likely you are to be promoted and advance your career. Professional development is a win-win at work. You discover new talents and abilities and are able to find new ways to contribute and add value.
The best employers focus on the totality of your wellbeing and have made adjustments to compensate for the new normal. These companies will be better able to attract and retain the best talent, so you will have the best coworkers in the world, too.
The fringe benefits offered by an employer are signals that can help you decide what is the best place for you to work. In some cases, the lack of certain perks can be a warning sign of an unhealthy environment that could put you at risk.
Not all company perks have the same value for everyone. Daycare for children and eldercare for parents are popular perks that are only useful to some. If you have completed your education, tuition reimbursement won’t directly help you, so you may not consider it a perk.
But even if you don’t use these perks, it’s important to consider how they affect the overall work environment. Tuition reimbursement will attract coworkers who are motivated, intelligent, and hard-working. Daycare and eldercare options will empower your coworkers and help them stay more focused on collective projects. Good benefits affect everyone in the workplace, not just the people who use them the most.
Learning how to evaluate benefits and perks is an important part of how to become successful. The right job for you is not necessarily the one that pays the most. Smart employers want you to know how to stay focused, so they are taking steps to protect your health and wellbeing.
The new normal requires that employees and employers reevaluate habits, traditions, and practices. Has your workplace added new benefits and perks to help compensate? Take a look today and see what advantages you can find. It might change your life.