Top 3 wellness benefits employers need to offer in 2020

Top 3 wellness benefits employers need to offer in 2020

A competitive salary alone is no longer enough to attract and retain top staff. Instead, workers now expect companies to offer packages that support their wellbeing and lifestyle requirements too. 

According to the latest Workplace Culture Trends report, 86% of millennials said they would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company that offers packages that suit their values and lifestyle. Such perks include access to health care, gym memberships and parental leave. It is good that companies are listening.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reported that more than nine in 10 companies around the world offer staff at least one form of wellness benefit, and more than three in five have an allocated  “wellness budget”. Morever, these budgets are expected to increase by 7.8% in the coming years. According to Deloitte, the corporate wellness market as a whole will be worth $11.3 billion (R162.3bn) in 2021. 

The term wellness is a broad one and can cover just about any aspect of an employee’s life. So, which specific areas are companies focusing on this year?

Stress and mental health

Already a hot topic, the mental health of employees will continue to dominate wellness discussions. It is estimated that stress and lack of work-life balance support costs the EU20bn (R319bn) per year, Australia $30bn, Canada $12bn and US $300bn through reduced productivity. In South Africa, a study conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) found that more than 40% of all work-related illness is due to work-related stress, major depression, burnout and anxiety disorders. 
Another study found that depression alone cost South Africa more than R232bn in lost productivity owing to absence from work and attending work while ill.

A study by Britain’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 80% of employees with mental ill health in the UK struggle to concentrate, 50% are potentially less likely to be patient with customers and 37% are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues. 
It was also estimated that in the UK alone, mental ill health costs employers between £33bn and £42bn per year, so it is obvious why businesses will continue to address these issues this year. 

Financial support

Employers are also set to offer more financial wellness support this year. An Alexander Forbes Member Watch Survey found that SA employees are spending an average of 13 hours a month, in some cases more than 20 hours, worrying about their finances. What’s more, the PWC Employee Fit and Wellness Survey also revealed that UK employees who worried about their finances were absent from work for twice as many days as those who were not stressed – again impacting on productivity and a company’s ability to operate at full capacity.
This is an issue that overseas businesses have begun to address in recent years, with figures from Bank of America’s 2019 Workplace Benefits Report showing that twice as many companies offer financial wellness support today (53%) compared to four years ago (24%). 

However, according to research done by Thomsons Online Benefits, there are still a number of barriers preventing businesses from offering financial wellness programmes to employees. For example, almost one in four companies are concerned about the risk of getting too involved in their employees’ financial lives, 20% think that it is not their role to do so, while 24% worry about the costs of offering such support. 

Despite these concerns, there’s a clear need for businesses to offer financial wellness packages to their employees as they continue to recognise the impact financial worry has on their wellness.

Flexible working

As employees look to achieve greater work-life balance, they are increasingly seeking work with businesses that offer flexibility. This has become so important to employees that the latest IWG Global Workspace Survey found that 83% of workers around the world would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working, with 54% saying that having a choice of work location is more important to them than working for a prestigious company. 

As a result of this demand, in the past 10 years 85% of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy or are planning to adopt one. However, a number of companies still have reservations about flexible working.   

The employee wellness market has grown significantly in recent years, with HR departments continuing to identify effective ways of building a happy and motivated workforce. This growth shows no signs of slowing down in 2020 with employee mental health, financial well-being and flexible working all expected to become integral parts of staff wellness packages. 

Supplied by IWG.

Soft versus hard skills – which are most wanted in the workplace?

Soft versus hard skills – which are most wanted in the workplace?

How do you measure someone’s ability to manage their time or their ability to work as part of a team, or their ability to lead that team to victory?

This is something recruiters are expected to assess in their exchange with a job candidate when looking at both their hard and soft skills. By scouring their CV, asking the right questions and meeting face to face, they soon extract the information they need about a candidate’s “hard” skills – measurable, teachable capabilities, often technical or practical, such as a computer programming degree or proficiency in a foreign language. More challenging to determine are their “soft” skills – traits often related to people skills such as management, self-reflection and flexibility – which are difficult to quantify and prove.

When companies work with a recruiter to create a job description, hard skills will form the foundation of certain roles – particularly those in technical industries or where a specific competency or level of experience is core to the role. At the same time, there are certain industries where soft skills in the workplace are more important than hard ones. Take PR, where success relies on your ability to build rapport with press and clients, and people are often hired based on the strengths of the relationships they’ve built.

According to the 2019 Hottest Skills Index from the Business Talent Group, project management, a soft skill, was the most in-demand consulting skill. The report also identified a “surge in demand” for marketing and communications consultants, a 750% increase on 2018. Particularly desirable specialisations were strategy, transformation and data science, at a time where companies are shifting to a digital-first standpoint.

In 2019, LinkedIn asked Dutch recruiters and HR professionals what skills were highest on companies’ wish lists. The most sought-after hard skills from companies were tech-centric such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and analytical reasoning. But at the same time, 85% of respondents said that soft skills are crucial for the future of recruitment and HR.

Flexible workspaces like Regus are regularly used by recruiters and companies to interview candidates in near locations. Joanne Bushell, the managing director and vice-president of Sales in Africa for Regus’s parent brand IWG plc said: “In South Africa, a critical skills shortage has been identified in the ICT sector, but companies are complaining that in many cases they are having to turn away capable candidates due to a lack in soft skills required to communicate and report effectively to their teams and managers.”

In short, clients are increasingly demanding candidates with hard skills in emerging tech, but also candidates with the soft skills to implement new processes and to work in tandem with technology to retain the human element of a business. When it comes to filling a management role, recruiters are most likely looking for someone with a unique balance of technical prowess and their ability to lead and inspire people; a hard-soft hybrid.

A candidate’s hard skills are easy to prove or disprove. But how can recruiters make sure that they possess the soft skills their client is seeking? Generally, it is about applying a more scientific approach. One option is to use software that asks candidates to take an online assessment – answering questions or playing games. Algorithms crunch the results and provide an analysis of applicants’ soft skills so that they can be compared like-for-like with others.

Alternatively, standardised interview questions relating to a soft skills list make it much easier to compare candidates. Having a set of questions that each recruiter uses each time they interview for a certain role is crucial. “Tell me about a time something important at work didn’t go to according to plan, what was the outcome?” and “Tell me about a time where you were asked to do something you’d never done before – how did you react?” are well-known questions for assessing a candidate’s leadership and adaptability. However, all candidates going for the same position need to be asked these questions in the same way for their soft skills to be comparable.

To focus on the task at hand, recruiters need to feel that they are operating in a professional environment, free from disturbance, where they can truly get to know a candidate’s unique hard-soft make-up.

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