2020 has seen quite possibly the biggest shift in how employee benefits are used since we began in the industry in 2009.
The needs and priorities of everyone have shifted dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic. There have been lots of different situations people have found themselves in.
Thankfully, there are lots of different employee benefits options available that can help combat some of the issues people have faced as a result of the pandemic.
Some benefits have changed in terms of how they’re used, while others have seen a surge in popularity.
Here are the main changes we’ve seen in 2020 when it comes to employee benefits, including how your business can use employee benefits to help employees tackle the key challenges they’re facing as a result of the pandemic.
How the Holiday Trading scheme has changed
The changes in the economy have affected businesses in many ways. Some have seen a surge in demand and have had to recruit further to deal with increased workloads.
Others have seen demand and therefore workload reduced along with changes in income.
Unfortunately, many companies have been left with no option but to let go of staff to keep the business afloat following these economic changes.
However, in many cases the Holiday Trading scheme has come in to provide a vital option for employers when it comes to managing hours, pay and workload.
The Holiday Trading scheme gives employees the option to buy and sell annual leave, giving them greater control over their work-life balance.
Now however, the scheme has become multi-purpose and has given many companies a lifeline.
Using the Holiday Trading scheme, many employers have been able to avoid difficult pay restructuring and have been able to cut costs and have greater control over hours and workload to cope with the effects of the pandemic.
As this has been such an important scheme for many of the companies we work with and provide the scheme to, we’ve explained how it works in more detail in our ‘COVID-19: How to use Holiday Trading to manage costs and the workforce’ guide.
The surge in popularity of the Bike to Work scheme
When the UK locked down in March 2020, it prompted many to dust off their old bikes or buy new ones and hit the road.
The roads were quieter, gyms and leisure centres were closed and families in lockdown seized the opportunity to get out together on two wheels.
Cycling was already seeing a surge in popularity before the UK Government announced new investment in improving cycling infrastructure and in helping make cycling more accessible for more people.
As a result, the Bike to Work scheme has become more popular than ever. It’s helped many people afford a new bike and accessories as the popularity of cycling rises and the importance of financial wellbeing increases too.
As the UK Government continues to invest more of its £2 billion green transport package into making cycling more accessible, the Bike to Work scheme looks set to continue to increase in popularity.
The Technology Scheme and our increased reliance on tech
Since the start of the pandemic, it would be fair to say we’ve relied on technology more than ever.
It’s been vital in helping millions transition to remote working while helping families keep in touch with their loved ones.
It’s facilitated education and allowed students to continue studying away from the classroom in a safer environment.
Tech has also helped us in our downtime, helping us switch off and helping keep families entertained while isolated and during lockdown.
As we have relied so much on technology since the start of the pandemic, naturally the reliability of tech has become more important.
Unfortunately, however, the financial strain the pandemic has put on many has meant buying newer, more reliable tech has become more difficult.
As a result, we’ve seen the popularity of the Technology Scheme increase dramatically. Employees are looking to their employers to help them afford reliable tech for themselves and for their families.
Given that we’re likely to feel the financial effects of the pandemic for many years to come and given that many employers may look to continue working from home, the popularity of the Technology Scheme looks set to continue.
Employee discounts have helped employees save
The effects of the pandemic saw the GDP of the UK fall by around 20%, the hardest it has been hit since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) records began in 1955.
Naturally in a recession, many look to cut costs and safeguard their finances.
Shopping expenses are naturally one of the places most people look first when reducing their expenses.
This is particularly important with the weekly or monthly shop, where even a small saving each week or month can really add up across the year.
If you can help employees save on regular expenses such as these then you can help employees make their pay go a lot further, particularly over time.
Providing a competitive discount package has always been an integral part of any employee benefits offering, but even more so today.
We’ve taken a more in-depth look into how employee benefits discounts are helping pay go further on our blog here, including how to find the right discounts package to suit your business as well as your employees.
The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) has become ever more important
For a while now the EAP has been an important option for employees seeking confidential advice available 24/7 to help with all manner of mental health challenges.
It’s been one of the key pillars for any effective health and wellbeing strategy when it comes to employee benefits and its importance has only grown further since the pandemic began.
One of the key benefits of the EAP is the wide range of mental health challenges it is equipped to deal with. Employees can get expert, confidential advice on anything from managing money worries to bereavement counselling.
One of the challenges for many in maintaining good mental health through the pandemic has been the number of different challenges it has thrown up.
Whether it’s the threat of unemployment, financial worries or health worries to name a few, the pandemic has certainly been tough to deal with for many reasons.
Providing a mental health support channel like the EAP has been a priority for many businesses through the pandemic. It has proven to be at the core of health and wellbeing strategies across businesses everywhere and its importance will no doubt continue.
That said, while the EAP is fantastic in helping employees tackle any mental health challenges, more preventative mental wellbeing employee benefits and measures are needed to create a more well-rounded employee health and wellbeing strategy.
How to find the right employee benefits for your business
Its not just employees who’ve faced challenges since the start of the pandemic, businesses have too.
The key for businesses is to find an employee benefits set-up that suits the company as well as its employees.
Businesses need a cost-effective set-up now more than ever as well as employee benefits that help tackle and solve the real issues employees are facing.
As a result of this, we’ve made key changes to help make our employee benefits more accessible and more suitable to the needs of businesses today.