While flexible work practices, career progression opportunities and ongoing learning and development are the top three non-financial benefits employees want, Hays has found the number of employers offering these across Australia and New Zealand has fallen year-on-year. This follows news that the value of salary increases is also reducing year-on-year, resulting in a ‘tug of war’ between employers and employees.
“Non-financial benefits can help bridge the salary expectation gap, allowing employers to reward staff when they don’t have the salary budget to do so,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.
According to the 2019/20 Hays Salary Guide, 83 per cent of employers now offer flexible work practices, down from 84 per cent last year. 70 per cent offer ongoing learning & development, down from 73 per cent, and 62 per cent provide career progression opportunities, down from 66 per cent. The offering of financial support for study and payment of employees’ own device usage charges at work have also taken a hit.
Only three non-financial benefits are offered by more employers this year compared to last: health and wellness programmes are now provided by 42 per cent of employers, up from 41 per cent; 21 per cent now offer staff over 20 days’ annual leave, up from 19 per cent; and 8 per cent give staff a day off for their birthday, up from 7 per cent.
“The overall drop in the number of employers offering the top benefits that employees actually want is concerning,” says Nick. “It will add to candidate attraction and retention challenges, which are already heightened in response to subdued wage growth.”
As a case in point, Nick points to rising turnover, which increased for 33 per cent of employers over the last 12 months. In addition, data from the Hays Salary Guide shows that 53 per cent of employees who are currently looking or planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months say a lack of promotional opportunities is one reason behind their job search. Also motivating job searches is a lack of new challenges (42 per cent), an uncompetitive salary (41 per cent), poor training and development (27 per cent) and poor work-life balance (also 27 per cent).
Moreover, the survey found that just 44 per cent of professionals are ‘very satisfied’ or ‘extremely satisfied’ with their current level of work-life balance.
Nick suggests this could be because employers need to think outside the box when deciding on the flexible benefits they can offer. “With flexibility now seen as standard, employers must think beyond compressed working weeks or staggered start and finish times to stand out and attract and retain the top talent. Think about what other genuine work-life balance solutions you can offer to appeal to a wider range of candidates.
“For instance, while 75 per cent of employers offer flexible working hours or compressed working weeks, other popular flexible work practices include part-time employment (73 per cent), flex-place, such as working from home or an alternative location (66 per cent), flexible leave options, such as purchased leave (36 per cent), job sharing (26 per cent), career breaks (16 per cent) and phased retirements (14 per cent).”