Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed Blog - The new normal for employee perks | Redline Group Recruitment News and Blogs | Redline Group Ltd

The new normal for employee perks

The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionised the way many of us work, what location we work at, and the skills we may need to work. As employees were forced to work from home, which was a completely new workplace experience for most, we found out that this new work environment prompts exhaustion and burnout sometimes more quickly than working in a physical office surrounded by your peers. This has also had an impact on employee perks and what may be the new post-pandemic norm.

COVID made free coffee and doughnuts in the office kitchen irrelevant overnight. The world health crisis pushed businesses to roll out remote working solutions to their respective workforces. Instead, employers have been offering perks like subscriptions to mental health apps, allowances for working from home, and lately even Peloton memberships.

Flexibility was once a perk in itself; now it has become the norm in some working environments. As it becomes increasingly clear that the hybrid office or flexible working is here to stay, employers need to consider how employee perks are going to look in the new normal. How does a business substitute free in-office lunches for some or part of the workforce?

This changing route of travel was highlighted in Aon’s 2021 UK Benefits and Trends Survey, it draws attention to the change across both strategy and employee expectations as increasing numbers of companies adopted a more employee-centric model to their approach to benefits and wider employee experience.

Peloton’s new corporate wellness programme was designed to attract new subscribers via subsidised access and has already attracted attention from giants like Samsung, Accenture and Sky. Other surveys have indicated that 49 per cent of companies are now offering some kind of wellness program, and 43 per cent say they added new and different perks because of the pandemic. According to Glassdoor, 60 per of employees now place more emphasis on perks related to physical and mental wellbeing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven many employers to rethink how they could use perks to engage and reward employees. Mental wellbeing is likely to remain a key area, as many employers began offering mental health resources during the pandemic. It’s now becoming clear that ongoing mental health and wellbeing benefits, not just COVID crisis support, are what employees desire. Many feel it should not have taken a pandemic to make companies offer them.

Even before the pandemic, the perks at Netflix were the subject of envy. It offers unlimited holiday allowance and a flexible work policy. Since the crisis started, it has upped its offering and encourages employees to choose the hours they work. 

Major corporations remain split on the balance between in-person and remote work, with Twitter and Microsoft among those offering more liberal work-from-home policies, while Google and Goldman Sachs are eager to return to the office.

Until recently, flexible hours, free health programmes, and unlimited holidays were reserved for the most generous employment packages — and companies such as Netflix were outliers. But these benefits could soon become standard in many organisations.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, remote work can lead to dwindling mental health, increased depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts- symptoms that are often higher among young adults between ages 18 and 24, many of whom are entering the workforce

According to Annie Auerbach, who spoke to many employees for her book ‘Flex’, old-style perks were designed to keep pulling employees into the “mother ship” to improve productivity. “Not only does that seem out of date in a new working culture, which is much more distributed and remote,” she says, “but simply on the data it does not relate to productivity.”

She describes such perks as a ‘band-aid‘ for a long-hours culture. Much of the ’on-campus‘ holistic approach to perks — on-site laundry, gyms, and entertainment — have origins in Silicon Valley, says Auerbach. These ’stay here tactics‘ will, she believes, be replaced in forward-thinking employers by a more empathetic vision that acknowledges that staff must attend to their lives beyond Zoom meetings. 

Employees are now looking for perks that make them feel valued and show leaders are investing in them as part of the company. The most frequent perk of this nature provided during COVID was a home working cash allowances, to assist with heating and the cost of setting up offices, also HM Revenue & Customs launched “microservice” to help claim tax relief for time spent working from home. These too are likely to become part of the new normal.

Pandemic concerns around childcare and eldercare have also produced long-term shifts, with many employers now offering additional paid family leave and childcare assistance during COVID. Having established these policies, many employers will be reluctant to make themselves unpopular by withdrawing them. In addition, some businesses have been enhancing their holiday and sick leave policies.

However, the role of perks is shifting: from keeping workers productive during the crisis to wooing them back to the office or just retaining them in the new normal.

Some companies are offering traditional perks like free snacks and happy hours to encourage home employees to come back to the workplace, and others are offering additional support with commuting costs, but will either approach be enough?

Data from a recent WeWork and Workplace Intelligence survey suggests that 75 per cent of US employees are willing to give up at least one benefit or perk for the freedom to choose their work environment, while 64 per cent would pay up to $300 for access to an office space. Some benefits they are willing to forgo include healthcare coverage, cash bonuses, and paid time off, the survey found.

The ’great resignation‘ is at hand, with 41 per cent of the global workforce considering leaving their employer in 2021, according to a Microsoft survey. Employees want something more meaningful than a box of Krispy Kremes.

When employees are content, that shows in their work and interactions. There’s a saying, ‘Happy employees are productive employees.’ That tends to be the case, if people feel good and supported about their organisation, they tend to be happy in their jobs.

Perks can also help in the current competitive job market. Sign-on bonuses have become popular and while a person is unlikely to just accept a job just because they are being offered a bonus, it is an indicator that the company wants them to work for the organisation.

Though many may mourn the death of some old office perks. It was reported that one London Facebook employee, highlighted that the biggest loss for many colleagues had been the free meal – its canteen had provided breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There is now no better way to demonstrate your respect and trust for your employees other than helping them embrace the redefined future of work practices, the skills required along with a benefits package to support such activities.

We’re already starting to see the shift due to early adopters, but the next 12 months will reveal the long-term impact more clearly how employee perks will change.

Redline Group enables high-technology companies to build world-class teams through knowledge-led recruitment across Permanent, Contract & Interim and Executive Search. We have helped thousands of companies indentify, attract, select, and secure professional and qualified candidates for over 35 years.

For more information regarding how we can help your business grow, contact Redline Group on 01582 450054 or email


Fill out the form below to let us know about a vacancy you would like us to advertise for you.

Click here


Register your details to access the latest vacancies, create job alerts and much more.