HR trends for 2022: Staff benefits to get an overhaul

Updated: Jan 21

RESEARCH: Outside of salaries, employee perks and benefits are one of the oldest methods used by organisations to support existing employees and also attract potential talent.

The technical difference is simple: benefits are expenses that an employer covers for their staff in addition to their salaries, such as health insurance, savings for retirement, and transportation costs. Perks, on the other hand, are rewards given outside of the salary, such as wellness activities, cafeteria food, and gym membership.

While those examples remain relevant, today’s employees are also demanding different perks and benefits. And the war for talent means many have the leverage to get those demands met.

Mental wellness is something that the pandemic has highlighted, and created a shift in priority for employees everywhere. As we adapt to different ways of working such as hybrid and remote working, employees are spending more time at home with little to no physical contact, which can bring issues of anxiety, depression, and burnout into play.

Gestures such as showing care and appreciation through a text message or email, could greatly improve one’s mood. Monthly virtual gatherings with free food could also make employees feel better during this time.

Employee discounts and rewards on clothing and food are another perk that employees are looking for at this time. This provides some additional financial relief to breadwinners or employees who had their promotion and bonuses on hold due to the pandemic.

Free Covid-19 testing has become another in-demand perk, particularly for employees who live with their family and children, or employees who are unable to work from home. By supplying testing, employers can cut the chain of infection and provide peace of mind to their staff

The issue is set to stay at the top of mind for HR teams well into 2022. This is because cost-effective and inspiring perks and benefits are seen as a key weapon for employers looking to hold their workforce together during “the Great Resignation” when it inevitably hits the Southeast Asis region this coming year.

In the US, where this surge of employees changing jobs or leaving the workforce altogether has already peaked, a Metlife survey revealed that 69% of staff believed a wider array of benefits would increase their individual loyalty.

Back in the Southeast Asia region. many organisations are taking quick actions to revamp their perks and benefits. One such multinational was investment bank Citigroup. It has branches in Singapore and Malaysia that have also provided benefits to support mployees during this pandemic and the post-pandemic phases.

Some of the benefits that Citigroup has provided is free Covid-19 testing for all their employees, and was covered through the existing Citi Medical health coverage for employees..

It also expanded the number of services available under its Healthcare Spending Account, allowing employees to have more flexibility in how they use those funds Citigroup also launched a mental health program called Be Well, where employees can dial in and talk to a therapist, free of charge.

Adopting quickly to those changing demands allowed Citigroup to keep its existing employees but also attract new talent. Indeed, the company grew from 200,000 employees in 2019, up to 210,000 employees last year.

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report, HR trends for 2022: What can HR expect from the year ahead? For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

HR trends for 2022: What can HR expect from the year ahead (full report) January 13, 2022

Four trends that HR can expect in 2022: Chief of Staff report (news highlight) January 14, 2022

HR trends for 2022: Hybrid working model set to stay (feature) January 16, 2022

HR trends for 2022: Staff benefits to get an overhaul (feature) January 17, 2022

HR trends for 2022: Data analytics are the new gold (feature) January 18, 2022

Keeping staff engaged at Shopee (case study) January 19, 2022

HR trends for 2022: Talent management systems for the win (feature), January 20, 2022

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