Work-life balance takes precedence over pay post-pandemic

To retain talent, companies need to offer employers more benefits

In this post-pandemic world, employees are looking for more work-life balance and flexibility, according to a new study by pension provider Aviva.

Workers surveyed said they were more attracted to their current role because of the work-life balance (41%) it offered rather than the salary (36%).  

Companies may need to consider this interesting change in ranking from 2019, before the pandemic, when more workers said they were attracted to salary (41.02%), followed closely by the work-life balance in second place (40.97%). 

Unsurprisingly, among the respondents, men are still more likely to say they are attracted by salary (43%) than by work-life balance (34%), while women choose work-life balance (44%) over salary (33%). Men prefer to focus on their salary, perhaps, because most of the time, women are responsible for homework, childcare, etc. 

Work-life balance over salary

When asked how they feel about their workplace, 88% said that workplace benefits other than pay improve their overall happiness. This figure was up slightly in 2019 (86%).

Laura Stewart-Smith, head of customer engagement at Aviva, said: “Before the pandemic, it would have been hard to imagine a time when employees would choose a role for work-life balance over salary.” 

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of balancing family life, sports life, dog life, lifestyle, and work activity. Striking this balance is difficult for employees and employers, but if achieved, it can often result in a happier and more productive workplace.

Workplace benefits package

When it comes to improving workplace benefits packages, nearly 9 in 10 employees (87%) said they would like to see changes in the next 12 months, which is a slight increase compared to 2019 (82%).

The workplace benefits package and the pension contribution on offer have remained constant over the three years, ranking 7th and 8th as reasons for taking on a current role. Again, ahead of the bonus. 

A challenge

On the business side, however, more than half (53%) of employers this year said they struggle to offer competitive benefits to their employees, up eleven percentage points compared to 2019 (42%). 

Almost two-thirds of SME employers (62%), between 50 and 249 employees, see this as a challenge. In 2019, employers said the cost of implementing benefits was the main reason (62%) they struggled to offer competitive workplace benefits.

In Stewart-Smith’s view, it is clear that both the workplace benefits package and employer pension contributions are still important to employees in a post-pandemic world. However, times are tough, and understandably, employers may feel they are struggling to offer a competitive benefits package.

 Good engagement

Given the economic challenges, the first step is to make the most of what already exists. Employers could offer financial education seminars, salary sacrifices, higher pension contributions, low-cost loans or childcare vouchers to improve workplace benefits.

Stewart-Smith concluded: “Employers can only get the best return on investment if employees understand and make full use of the benefits available to them, and the key to achieving this is good engagement. When communicating about workplace benefits, it is important to be sensitive to the financial challenges people may face in the current climate. Case studies of employees who have benefited can be a useful tool in bringing to life what a workplace benefits package can do for other colleagues.”

In this article, you learned that: 

  • More workers said they were attracted to their current role for the work-life balance (41%) than the salary (36%). This is a switch in rankings compared to 2019, before the pandemic.
  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) employees said workplace benefits (other than salary) improve their happiness.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 employees (87%) said they want to see improvements to their workplace benefits package over the next 12 months.
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