In September 2020, we surveyed over 2,700 workers and job seekers on a multitude of topics – from their current salary and benefits, to how well their employer has supported them throughout the pandemic. This data informed the basis for our annual Salary and Benefits Review and shed light on the key features that workers expect from their employers moving forward.

To help businesses better retain their top-performing staff in 2021, we’ve outlined four key lessons to be taken from the challenges faced over the last twelve months.

Benefits packages must adapt to changing times

When the majority of office workers transitioned to home working in March, some businesses offered benefits to help them through that period. We saw companies provide subsidies to help employees set up their home offices, or organise private transfers so they could avoid public transport. According to our survey, other new benefits included increased mental health support, along with allowing flexible hours to allow for caring and parental responsibilities.

Unfortunately, it seems this was not the case in the greater number of cases. In fact, 60% of surveyed respondents reported that their employer had yet to make any changes at the time of survey, seven full months into the pandemic. It may seem logical, but – if they are to attract and hold on to talent – employers must adapt their benefits packages to reflect workers’ changing working situations.

Flexible working is here to stay

One of the biggest insights we learnt was that workers, on the whole, don’t want to give up flexible working. In fact, losing the flexibility they have gained through the pandemic is their biggest fear about returning to the office. Alongside the widely-understood benefits of working from home, such as cutting travel costs and commuting time, 70% of workers hope that their employer realises how working from home can be good for productivity.

However, 40% of employers haven’t made any permanent changes to their remote-working policies, despite their experience working from home this year. If a business is looking to retain and attract the best talent, it’s highly likely they will need to implement a permanent hybrid or remote-working arrangement.

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Workers still expect a pay rise

Despite the economic difficulties facing businesses, financial compensation such as salaries, bonuses and pay rises haven’t fluctuated dramatically. Salaries have remained stable and 46% of surveyed respondents still expect a pay rise within the next 12 months. Additionally, in comparison to last year, there was only a 5% decrease in the number of people who received a financial bonus this year.

According to our data, a competitive salary package is the number one priority for those looking for a new role. Therefore, it remains essential that employers continue to offer a competitive salary to current and prospective employees over the next 12 months.

Short termism is still alive and well

Surprisingly, despite the redundancies businesses have seen this year, four in 10 workers reported that they’re planning to leave their role within the next 12 months. This may be related to their employers’ pandemic response and the lack of support shown to workers, as 45% say their company could do more in this area.

In summary, employers could risk losing their high-performing employees if they don’t do enough to support and communicate with their workers throughout this uncertain time. When the market turns around – and it will – leaders’ responses during tough times will make all the difference to talent attraction and retention.

If you’d like to request a copy of our full 2021 Salary and Benefits Review, click here.