While remote work has been around for a long time, it quickly gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Either by force or by choice, people found themselves working from home. The adjustment came with growing pains for employers and employees alike. But for some, the flexibility of remote work arrangements won them over for the long haul.
Now, several companies are ditching brick-and-mortar locations to go completely remote. With the absence of more traditional in-office perks, employers need to offer the right benefits to their remote employees if they want to attract and retain top talent.
In this article, we'll discuss which benefits are most important to remote workers and why you should include them in your employee benefits package.
What benefits can help with recruiting and retaining remote employees?
Even if you offer a competitive salary, job seekers want a certain amount of perks to come with it. Our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report found 82% of employees say that the benefits package an employer offers is an important factor in whether or not they accept a job.
As office spaces evolve, you want your benefits package to do the same. Employees who work remotely have different priorities than those who still commute to the office. Offering desirable benefits that are tailored to meet the wants and needs of your remote workers can help you retain and recruit top talent at your organization.
Let's go over some of the most popular remote employee perks you can offer.
If you ask employees why they chose to work remotely, many will answer, "Because of the flexibility." From the local coffee shop to an island oasis, remote workers can do their job almost anywhere in the world (Wi-Fi permitting). They can live as digital nomads while maintaining meaningful careers.
You can lean into this benefit even further by offering your employees flexible hours. The Human Resources Director1 (HRD) newsletter calls a flexible work schedule one of the most sought-after company perks for remote workers. Additionally, our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report found that 88% of remote workers rated a flexible work schedule as “very” or “extremely important,” compared to 74% for in-office workers.
Giving your employees the opportunity to choose what time they work helps support the healthy work-life balance they crave. They can run quick errands, respond to personal emergencies, squeeze in medical appointments, and take their kids to and from school every day. Essentially, they can spend more time with loved ones and less time stressing over a typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. gig. In return, you'll notice higher productivity levels and greater employee satisfaction at your organization.
Paid time off (PTO)
You don’t want the saying, “All work and no play,” to be a reflection of your company culture. Hard-working employees deserve time off to relax and recharge. Plus, taking a break to unplug from the daily grind helps prevent employee burnout.
An ample amount of paid time off is a priority for today’s job seekers. Data collected in our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report found that 95% of remote workers value it. Offering PTO at your company is an excellent way for you to stay competitive in the job market so you can hire and retain the best and brightest workers.
A downside to the remote work experience is that it can be fairly sedentary and isolated. This furthers the importance of offering a benefit that promotes a healthy lifestyle.
You can encourage your employees to take care of their physical, emotional, and mental health by offering health and wellness programs in your benefits package. For example, you could offer your employees a stipend that covers gym memberships, exercise classes, and even gym equipment for their home. You could also reimburse your employees for therapy and counseling services.
According to MetLife’s 2022 Employee Benefits Trends Study2, 52% of employees said health and wellness programs are a must-have. However, only 33% of employers say they offer or plan to offer these benefits.
On top of that, our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report also found that 65% of remote workers value mental health benefits, which can be covered by wellness programs or stipends.
Reimbursement for home office supplies
Many people found themselves working from their kitchen table or a sparsely decorated spare bedroom when they transitioned to remote work. By offering a home office benefit, you can help your employees create a space that promotes productivity and efficiency in their workflow. With a remote work or home office stipend, your employees could buy an ergonomic desk chair, an additional monitor for dual screens, a filing cabinet to improve their organization, and more. They can also purchase and get reimbursed for any software or tools they need to do their jobs.
In some states, employers may be required to reimburse their employees for their work-related business expenses.
Stipend for co-working spaces
At the same time, home isn't always the best place for employees to set up shop. They may not have the room for a dedicated workspace, or maybe it's hard to find peace and quiet in general. Either way, a co-working space could be the answer to their problems. A co-working stipend would allow your employee to get reimbursed for a co-working space membership. This allows your employees to share an office space with others in their community at a regional or local co-working space.
Internet access reimbursement
Internet access is a necessity for work-from-home jobs, and it doesn't come cheap. According to Cision3, the average internet bill in the U.S. is $64 per month. As TechRadar4 reports, 67% of respondents on a HighSpeedInternet survey wished their employer covered their internet costs while working from home. With a remote work stipend, you can easily reimburse your employees for their internet access costs while satisfying state laws regarding remote work expenses.
Employee recognition and appreciation programs
Every employee wants to be appreciated for their hard work. This can be something as simple as sending them a message over Slack to point out the awesome job they've been doing or giving them a well-deserved shout-out during a meeting. Common appreciation programs recognize an employee for their years of service to the company or high-quality work over a certain period of time.
Additionally, more and more businesses are using spot bonuses to increase employee engagement, employee loyalty, and employee retention. A spot bonus is an incentive used to acknowledge employee performance. This immediate reward can be used to recognize an employee's extra effort or specific accomplishments.
One company that's embraced spot bonuses is PwC5. Following the coronavirus pandemic, PwC gave employees a spot bonus equal to one week’s pay. This was done as a "thank you" to acknowledge their hard work during the difficult transition of working from home.
No matter if you choose to offer a spot bonus or an employee recognition program, you can offer an employee stipend as a way to reward your employees for their hard work.
At some point in the workday, your employees are going to get hungry. The cost of food comes out of their own paychecks, and it's making a bigger dent than usual.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture6 (USDA) reports that in 2022, the average cost of food increased by 9.9%. Food-at-home prices increased by 11.4%, while food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.7%.
To help offset those costs, you can foot some of the bills. With a meal allowance, you give your employees a set amount of money to buy food, such as meals or groceries. For example, MasterClass7 employees get a $120 monthly stipend for snacks and lunch.
Well-fed, healthy employees have the energy they need to power through the day. Offering the benefit of a meal stipend to your employees can greatly improve company culture and employee retention. It can also bring in new talent looking for a competitive benefits package that supports their financial, physical, and emotional well-being.
Employees want perks that enhance their professional and personal lives. By investing in their continued learning, you can do both.
Potential career growth and development opportunities are things that job seekers take notice of. Plus, it can get your employees to stick around. A Linkedin Learning report8 found that 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their career and personal development.
Our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report also found that 63% of remote workers rated professional development benefits as “very” or “extremely important” to them. This type of benefit aligns with more modern expectations for employers to care for employees in less traditional ways outside of retirement and health insurance benefits.
Offering your employees a professional development stipend, also known as a learning stipend, shows them you care about their career goals and want to invest in their future success. This would allow you to reimburse your employees for things like online courses, conferences, career coaching, public speaking classes, and more.
For example, Buffer9 gives its employees $20 a month for a personal learning and development opportunity of their choice. In addition, the company offers all employees a free Kindle, which includes unlimited free books.
Finally, one of the best ways to keep your employees happy and improve company culture is to provide health benefits as part of your benefits package. If you don't want to offer traditional group health insurance, consider a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or a health stipend.
With an HRA, employers offer a monthly allowance that employees can use toward eligible medical expenses like health insurance premiums, prescription medications, and doctor's visits. Employers can decide which medical expenses they want to reimburse, which employees are eligible to participate, and how much money they want to offer their employees in the form of allowances. This allows employers to provide a health benefit with nearly any budget.
PeopleKeep offers three different HRAs, which include:
- Qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA)
- Individual coverage HRA (ICHRA)
- Group coverage HRA (GCHRA), also known as an integrated HRA
HRAs are a popular choice among many companies for several reasons. They are tax-advantaged for employers and give employees the freedom to use their health benefit however they like. HRAs are also more affordable since you can set a budget-friendly allowance of your choosing. Plus, there are no annual rate hikes.
Remote companies need to consider the wants and needs of their current workforce when choosing what benefits to include in their employee benefits package.
When you offer benefits that are curated for a remote team, you'll have an easier time with employee retention and recruitment. Plus, you'll have happy employees who will act as ambassadors for your brand.
If you’re ready to offer the benefits that are important to remote workers, PeopleKeep can help! With our HRA and employee stipend administration software, you can easily set up personalized employee benefits in minutes.