Can Employee Benefits Include Empathy and Compassion?

26 January 2021

Whether your team has been finding ways to keep busy on furlough, juggling home schooling while working from home, or continuing to keep to their usual work routines despite the challenges of the pandemic, the past year has been a game-changer. And the changes haven’t only affected work routines and locations either. The pandemic has prompted many to reassess what’s important to them, reconsider their life goals and invest time in the people they care about.

It’s a culture change that will have long-lasting implications for the way we live and work, with many employers now developing plans for a permanent shift to working from home. And it’s not just the nuts and bolts of the workplace that has changed; the impact of shifting attitudes to what really matters is also affecting the value attached to employee benefits too.

For the employee, material benefits and lifestyle perks, such as restaurant discounts and gym memberships, have taken a back seat as retail and leisure facilities have been forced to close. In their place, family, wellbeing and planning for the future have taken centre stage, and benefits aligned to these areas are much more attractive.

For the employer, meanwhile, there has also been a shift of emphasis. Employee benefits are no longer just a way of communicating that the team will be rewarded; they have also become a vehicle for demonstrating that the organisation cares about its people and supports them. Employers have been a source of information and reassurance during troubled times and benefits packages can extend that duty of care with rewards that recognise the importance of the family and home environment for the wellbeing of each team member.

It’s for these reasons that benefits packages that include bereavement support (including traumatic bereavement), will writing and other legal services have grown in popularity for both employers and employees. Not only has the pandemic emphasised the fact that bereavement can happen to anyone at any time in their lives, it has also made people more aware of the need to protect their family by making a will and planning ahead to maximise the value of their assets. The isolation of lockdowns and social restrictions has created vulnerability because people have been unable to rely on their usual networks for emotional support and advice in the same way. Consequently, access to an independent helpline for support and advice has become a much more valuable commodity. Moreover, the underlying stress and anxiety generated by the isolation and uncertainty of the past year has affected people’s resilience, encouraging them to seek support much more readily than they might have done in the past.

There is an opportunity for employers to be the source of that support with a tailored benefits package that includes bereavement support for both the emotional and practical aspects of losing a loved one. A will writing service as part of the package helps the employee secure their family’s financial future and estate planning services help them organise their assets and feel much more in control. Adding legal services to the package offers further reassurance for employees. Whether they need a legal professional to help them with probate, have been prompted to move house after lockdown, or have experienced the breakdown of their relationship following the stresses and strains of the past year, being able to call upon a vetted panel of trusted professionals reduces anxiety and helps employees access the right expertise.