Tag: employee benfits

73% of workers will accept a four-day work week if pay does not decrease

A survey of over 2,000 UK workers and 250 UK employers found that flexible work is more popular among job seekers than a four-day work week.

Despite 37% of employers implementing a four-day working week, recent research from Reed.co.uk has found that candidates are more likely to apply for a job offering “flexible working” opportunities (45%) than a “four-day working week” (40%). “Work from home” followed at 32%, and “opportunity to progress” was noted at 31%.

According to the research, despite 89% of workers favouring a four-day working week, flexible work remains the more popular alternative for employers seeking to generate job applications. Flexible working is defined as a way of working that suits the individual’s needs, with flexible start and finishing times and/or the freedom to work from home.

The research also found that only 16% of workers would accept a pay reduction in exchange for a shorter week. Seventy-three percent of respondents were open to the shorter week if pay did not decrease.

Over a third (37%) of employers have implemented a four-day working week, and 27% are considering it.

Generally, the reasons for employers’ support of the four-day working week are focused on employee wellbeing. The benefits cited include:

  • “better work-life balance” (51%)
  • “increased employee happiness” (43%)
  • “higher employee engagement” (41%)
  • “increased productivity” (36%)
  • “reduction of burnout” (36%)

James Reed, Chairman of Reed.co.uk, comments: “Despite strong arguments in favour of a four-day working week, evidenced also by recent UK trials, our research suggests that it may not be the best or most popular way for businesses to attract and retain top talent.

“The National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work has suggested that cramming five days’ work into four might contribute to stress. Instead, offering greater flexibility could be more impactful and more popular.

“Amid a highly competitive labour market, it’s encouraging to see so many employers open to exploring new and creative methods to attract candidates. The era of the traditional 9-to-5, five day working week is over and it’s now more important than ever for employers and employees alike to embrace flexible and inclusive working patterns that will allow everyone to contribute to the workforce.”

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Paid sick leave tops the list

HR and payroll software provider CIPHR recently polled 1001 people about which benefits, perks, and incentives are the most important for employees. According to the new research, 67% of employees said that paid sick leave matters most to them. Next on the list were flexible working hours at 57% and pension contribution matching at 46%.

Also important was mental health and wellbeing support, at 40%. This comes as no surprise after the pandemic and the ever-rising cost of living.

The order of importance depends largely on the individual being surveyed. For example, pension contribution matching is higher on the priority list than flexible working hours for those over 45 (59% vs. 45%). However, the opposite applies to respondents under 45 (57% vs. 42%).

Gender also played a role, where female respondents valued childcare assistance over a market value salary (27% vs. 21%). On the other hand, more men placed more importance on a performance bonus over a market-value salary (45% vs. 34%).

The top 15 benefits and perks were as follows:

  • Paid sick leave (67%)
  • Flexible working hours (57%)
  • Pension contribution matching (46%)
  • Mental health and wellbeing support (40%)
  • Performance bonus (39%)
  • Four-day work week on full-time pay (37%)
  • Extra holiday allowance (32%)
  • Employee discounts scheme (30%)
  • Flexible working location (27%)
  • Market-value salary (26%)
  • Childcare assistance (23%)
  • Health insurance or cash-back plans (21%)
  • Extra paid day off for birthdays (21%)
  • Extended paid parental leave (20%)
  • Death benefits (18%)
  • Unlimited paid leave (18%)

In a separate survey of 332 UK-based businesses, CIPHR found that employers only rated six of the 24 benefits in the same order as employees.

The top 10 benefits that employers think matter most to employees are:

  • Mental health and wellbeing support
  • Flexible working hours
  • Paid sick leave
  • Flexible working location
  • Performance bonus
  • Four-day work week on full-time pay
  • Extra holiday allowance
  • Health insurance or cash-back plans
  • Childcare assistance
  • Pension contribution matching
  • Market-value salary

Matt Russell, Chief Commercial Officer at CIPHR, commented: “It is surprising to see such a disconnect between the benefits that employees value and what employers think – especially given how important good rewards and benefits packages are to attracting and retaining top talent and for supporting a great employee experience.”

“There is no one model or benefits scheme that works for every organisation. Employers need to spend time listening to their own employees to understand their needs and priorities and what benefits they want and value. For example, things like employee discounts, childcare assistance, and health or dental insurance, can go a long way to helping employees through the current cost-of-living crisis. And, what was once more important, pre-2020, has now been superseded by other benefits that reflect the growing shift to remote working and the desire for more flexibility at work.

“It won’t always be possible to deliver on every specific benefits request but organisations that can act on employee feedback, wherever possible, and provide agile and flexible benefits schemes are more likely to have a happier and engaged workforce.”

The significant differences between what employees actually value and what employers think their employees will value, indicate that organisations may be missing valuable opportunities to improve employee experience and engagement.

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43% set to quit jobs for improved working conditions

EY has released their 2022 Work Reimagined Survey, showing that 43% of employees are likely to quit their jobs, motivated by higher salaries, better career opportunities, and increased flexibility.

The survey canvassed over 1,500 business leaders and 17,000 employees across 22 countries and 26 industry sectors and found that employees have significant influence amid a shrinking labour market and rising inflation.

According to the survey, 35% of employees say that their main motivation for quitting their jobs is a desire for higher pay. This is likely due to record inflation numbers in many countries. Twenty-five percent are looking for career growth, while 42% believe that pay increases will address high staff turnover. However, only 18% of employers agree with this statement.

Last year’s survey found that flexible working arrangements were the biggest driver in employee moves. However, with many companies now offering some flexibility, remote work is less of a factor, at 19%. Seventeen percent say they would leave for well-being programs.

When looking at age groups in the various countries, the survey found that 53% of Gen Z employees and millennials in the US are the most likely to quit their jobs this year. In addition, across all sectors, 60% of employees with technology and hardware jobs are eager to leave.

Despite an improved outlook on company culture, many employees are keen to job hunt. In contrast, employers are less confident about company culture. Similarly, while many employees feel that the new ways of working increased their productivity, employers’ confidence in productivity decreased from 77% to 57%.

In looking at growing skills and the talent gap, findings among employers are:

  • 58% agree that it is important to have a strategy that matches talent and skills to business needs.
  • 74% are prepared to hire employees from other countries and allow remote work if their skills are critical or scarce.
  • 21% believe that improving opportunities to build skills will help address turnover.

In respect of flexible working models, the survey shows that:

  • 22% of employer respondents want employees back in the office five days a week.
  • Reluctance to work remotely among employees fell from 34% to 20%.
  • 80% of employees would like to work remotely at least two days per week.

The survey also examines whether new ways of working boost culture and productivity. It reveals that 32% of “optimist” employers have improved culture and productivity by ensuring that their leaders understand company issues, external practices, and strategies. Other drivers of success are hybrid work, investing in on-site amenities, enhancing workplace technology, and empowering employees.

Liz Fealy, EY Global People Advisory Services Deputy Leader and Workforce Advisory Leader, commented: “This latest survey shows that employees around the world are feeling empowered to leave jobs if their expectations are not met. As employers have increasingly provided flexible work approaches, higher pay is now the biggest motivation for changing jobs, particularly given rising inflation and available unfilled roles.”

Roselyn Feinsod, EY Work Reimagined Leader, commented: “We are seeing a top third of companies successfully navigating these divergent positions on pay, career opportunities and flexibility. They have moved from ‘resistance’ to ‘renaissance’ and that’s a win-win for their companies and their workforce. Organizations have to work to retain their employees, instill trust and provide a package that takes into account total pay, career path and flexibility to balance market concerns and risks.”

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Live birth numbers decrease by 4.1%
The latest data released by the ONS on Birth characteristics in England and Wales: 2020 has reinforced the need for workplace fertility, pregnancy and early parenthood support for employees, and not just simply for those who fit into what is considered the nuclear family.

In 2020, the average age of mothers in England and Wales remained at 30.7 years, while the average age of fathers increased slightly to 33.7 years – both prime working ages; with 1,959 live births to same-sex couples recorded in 2020.

The data shows there were 613,936 live births in England and Wales in 2020, a decrease of 4.1% from 2019. Troubles with fertility do not affect everyone trying to conceive, but for those going through it, it seems that it is one of the last remaining workplace taboos – people simply don’t talk about it to their employer or their colleagues.

On top of this, becoming a parent often happens at the same time as careers are starting to flourish, which means it has a major impact on employers too.

Dr. Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy said: “Trying for a baby and becoming a parent can be challenging times. When a member of staff tries for a baby or needs treatment to help them conceive, it can be all-consuming. They may need to take time off work for appointments and the stress and anxiety can lead to additional absences from a mental health point of view too.

“Once a baby is born, the stress isn’t over, with challenges such as feeding, sleeping and managing a new routine.

“This is a time when employees need a huge amount of support, and with the right support the experience can be much more positive, and also mitigate absence.”

Employers should be made aware of other data included in the ONS birth characteristics report that has been revealed and that is that the highest stillbirth rates remain in women aged 40 years and over at 5.5 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2020, which is no change compared with 2019. Also, babies from black ethnic groups have the highest stillbirth rate at 6.3 per 1,000 births. However, this has decreased from 7.1 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2019.

In 2020, 7.4% of live births were preterm births, a decrease from 7.8% in 2019. (A preterm birth is a birth that takes place before 37 weeks’ gestation.) These present incredibly stressful times for families who are often in very challenging careers and employers, along with HR functions, should consider offering more support to employees in situations such as these.

Dr. Mridula Pore continued: “After a miscarriage or stillbirth, many employees will find it hard to discuss what has happened and will benefit from support from someone with dedicated expertise in this area who understands what the individual or couple are experiencing emotionally, physically and practically.

“Whether employees are seeking treatment to help them conceive, have become parents, or have suffered the trauma of baby loss, support needs to be available as part of workplace diversity, equity and inclusion policies for everyone. We know that these issues don’t just affect young women in heterosexual relationships and although they are difficult subjects to address, those employers that are there when their staff are vulnerable and most at need, will be the employers of choice.”

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