During the covid-19 pandemic a shift have been made when it comes to employee benefits. From a narrow to a wider and more individual approach, and from traditional to digital solutions.
Employers have always competed over the best talents, but the last year the competition have become even stronger as more and more employees are looking into changing their jobs. Covid-19 have really put a light on the gap between the employees and employers when it comes to retaining talents. One of the main assets to consider when it comes to employer branding and retaining and gaining talents is the benefit package. Two trends that have become apparent during the last year, and will be even stronger the coming year, is to keep the individual in mind and a move towards digital solutions.
But other than keeping the employee in focus and switching to digital solution a huge trend can also be seen when it comes to how employers are working with benefits and their benefit strategy. Previously employers have mainly updated and/or switched benefits by the year end, but as of today benefits are investigated continuously and are implemented throughout the year.
“We can see that employees are more critical regarding their employers and are recognizing the benefits of employee benefits in a greater extent than previously”, says John Lindström, Head of Business at Epassi Finland. “This means that employers at the same time have become more aware of the need of individually adapting the benefits being offered and have started to look into a wider range of benefits than before.”
As the work force today is very diverse with a wide range of generations and view on the work place it is important the benefits being offered are giving value to both the employees and employers. And the need of giving the employee the chance to pick and choose from the benefits being offered.
“In Sweden we can see that many employers are consolidating their benefit offerings, as they might be offering less benefits but those benefits that are offered are of higher quality and importance for the employees. We can also see a trend of flexible benefit solutions, where the employee himself can adapt the offered benefits to their own need”, says Åsa Severgårdh, Head of Business at Epassi Sweden.
Before the pandemic hit the most popular benefits being offered by Epassi in Finland was Meal and Sport & Culture. Benefits that are still very popular today, but a huge increase can be seen when it comes to well-being benefits such as massage, dental and medical.
“During the pandemic we have seen a rapid increase of employers offering well-being benefits. Even though we had customers offering the benefit before the pandemic, the demand has exploded during the pandemic and as of today, most of our customers are offering well-being to their employees”, says John at Epassi Finland.
In Sweden the wellness benefits remain in top of benefits being offered by employers, a trend that have been seen previously and will remain moving forward. Benefits such as insurance, pensions and health related benefits are also increasing in interest and remaining as popular benefits to offer.
Another trend that is very noticeable is the trend to move to more digital benefit solutions and usage-based payments. In Finland we have seen an increase in the interest of offering benefits based on usage-based payments, as employers have become more aware of the risk of having benefits being left unused.
Epassi’s digital solution, when the benefit is paid upon usage and available through the employee’s smartphone (without need of distributing a physical product), have been a great fit when society have opened and closed from time to time.
“In Sweden the paper vouchers for the lunch benefit decreased upon the introduction of Rikslunchen in 2009, and the paper vouchers have not been used for a long time in favor for the digital card. The last few years we have seen an increase of the usage of mobile payments as more and more banking institutes are offering the possibility to use mobile payments, a development we also can see when it comes to the onboarding of our lunch users on to the mobile payments we are offering”, says Åsa at Epassi Sweden.
As the covid-situation is unclear and changes are being made continuously the hybrid-work model probably will remain in the future. A need of providing a safe return to the office has also been discussed by many employers, and how to ensure the medical safety for the employees.
“We have seen an increase of interest in the opportunity to provide vaccination opportunities and especially providing covid testing upon symptoms. As an employer it is important to ensure the safety of the employees and by offering the possibility to test for covid easily and fast by providing tests for the employees it is possible for the employers to provide a safe environment”, says Åsa at Epassi Sweden.
When remote working now is standard for most employees within white collar the employers have seen a new demand rising. Our workplace at the office is usually ergonomically equipped and made to reduce any physical stress and improper work positions. Whereas our home offices might not have the same ergonomic approach, and the furniture have been picked with another focus than work ergonomics if you even have a proper place to work at.
Upon the start of remote working in both Sweden and Finland a demand of making sure that your employees had a proper working station at home arose. And even though most are returning to the offices now we might not be back to a full-time office for a while, or even ever. So, to make sure that the employees home offices are properly equipped it is important as an employer to offer their employees home office equipment as well as a fully equipped office. To make sure Epassi’s customers could offer their employees the best solution possible a collaboration started with ErgoSafe.
“We are very happy that we could help our customers meet the new demand of equipping their employees home offices in a very demanding time. We don’t see this demand decreasing even though we are returning to our offices, as we do see a trend of remaining at the home office in the future”, explains John at Epassi Finland.
During covid a decrease of physical movements have been seen. In Sweden studies has shown that a third of Swedes are moving less during the pandemic whereas a fourth have shown an increase in their movements.
“To move and to exercise has been proven to be important for our overall well-being, where physical activities have a strong correlation with mental well-being. We can therefore see an importance of providing opportunities for the work force to have easy access to physical activities to improve well-being and reduce the risk of illness”, explains Åsa at Epassi Sweden.
In Sweden most employers (95%) already offer a wellness allowance to their employees, but it is important to work actively with the benefit program to make sure that the offered benefits are well known and used by the employees.
As the competition of talents won’t end shortly the importance of benefit offerings and employer branding will continue to be in focus for many employers to attract and retain talent. The strategic work of benefits offering have changed during the pandemic and a trend of working continuously with the benefit offering has been seen.
“We can see a shift in how employers are onboarding their employees to new benefits. Previously most employers have started the new year with their new supplier and benefits but are now keener to shift during the year. It is hard to say why this is, but one reason could be the need to rapidly adapt to the change of need from employees and the changes we have seen in society with lock-downs coming and going”, explains John at Epassi Finland.
When looking at how to build your employer brand and how to attract the best talent it is important, for the employer, to keep in mind what benefits that will provide the most value. Both for the employer as well as for the employee.
“Even though the meal benefit has been in the benefit top for quite some time in Finland, we can still see that it is continuing to be highly appreciated by our customers and their employees”, continues John at Epassi Finland.
“To offer a balanced benefit package that is in line with the employer values and identity will be key for a strong employer brand and to attract talents moving forward”, concludes Åsa at Epassi Sweden.
The digital benefit solutions offered by Epassi is a great match when we are facing the new normal; fully digital, pay as you go and supporting existing benefit models. As Epassi is the leading benefit solution in the Nordics we strive to keep growing and meeting the needs of our customers and users. As a forerunner we take pride in our advanced technology solutions and accelerating our development to become even better.