Gone are the days when all of your employees worked under one roof. Thanks to leaps in technology, and companies opening their eyes to the benefits of having employees that can work from anywhere, the amount of remote workers in the U.S. has almost quadrupled in the past decade.
On the one hand, that’s obviously very exciting. You can literally recruit and hire workers from anywhere in the country. On the other hand, attracting and retaining remote employees comes with its own set of unique challenges.
Take, for example, employee perks. All of those awesome investments you’ve made in your office space for your employees—The big kitchen? The gym? The ping pong table? Your remote workforce can’t use those. Nor can they enjoy any office perks like free food or company parties.
In other words, if a lot of your perks are office-centric, your remote employees are really missing out. And with two-thirds of job seekers telling GetApp that pay and benefits are a top factor when considering a job in 2021, a lack of perks for remote employees could be costing you great candidates.
To help ensure all of your workers are getting awesome employee benefits regardless of where they are, here are five perks you should consider offering to your remote employees.
Finding a health insurance provider that can meet all your employees’ needs within budget is hard enough. If you have remote employees spread across the country, the challenge can feel insurmountable. Imagine this: Even if 99% of your workers can find an in-network doctor within an hour of where they live, if 1% can’t, that’s an inequitable solution.
Telemedicine can bridge this gap. Allowing workers to video conference with a doctor from home for all of their non-emergency medical issues, telemedicine can be a real time-saver for all of your employees, and an absolute game-changer for those working in more rural areas.
If you’re still not convinced, know that employees love the flexibility of telemedicine. Of those patients who had a telemedicine appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic in a 2020 GetApp survey, 57% said they’d prefer to use telemedicine more when the pandemic is over, with 12% going as far to say they’d prefer to use telemedicine for all of their medical appointments.
It’s not enough to give remote employees flexible options for the occasional injury or stomach bug though. They also need support for their mental health. Alongside higher rates of burnout, 20% of remote employees say they struggle with loneliness and depression.
Companies can provide mental health support in a number of ways:
Giving remote workers access to counselors and therapists through an employee assistance program
Uploading content regarding mental health and wellness best practices to the company intranet
Setting up peer support networks and employee resource groups so like-minded workers have a forum to talk about issues with one another
If you’re going to offer perks to remote employees, you have to prioritize the most important things. Helping with their physical and mental well-being is a great place to start.
Some benefits administration software vendors, like Zenefits, are also insurance brokers. You can use these platforms to find insurance providers that offer telemedicine or employee assistance programs, purchase plans that work best for your needs, and track employee enrollment.
A company intranet is a great place to store mental health resources and set up employee resource groups, while an affordable communication tool is all you need to keep remote workers digitally connected to their peers.
Healthy snacks in the kitchen, gym equipment, even yoga and meditation classes are all effective ways that companies can promote employee wellness.
There’s just one problem: Despite suffering from high stress and sleep disorders more often than their in-office counterparts according to a study by the International Labor Organization, remote employees don’t have the same access to these beneficial wellness perks.
The solution, then, is to meet your remote employees where they are with your wellness offerings. Here are some examples of how you can do it:
Give remote employees an exercise stipend they can spend on home gym equipment, wellness apps, fitness events, or a gym membership in their area.
Invest in a subscription service like Urthbox or Graze that will automatically send healthy snacks to remote employees based on their preferences.
Launch company-wide fitness challenges that can be tracked digitally, and make any on-site group classes available to view and participate in online.
As wellness initiatives continue to gain popularity, it’s important to step back and make sure all of your employees—not just those in the office—can take part in them.
Home office perks got a lot of press at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for good reason. Compared to the setup most employees can get in an office, a home office (if a remote employee even has room for a home office) can be severely lacking.
Besides providing them with necessities like a computer, companies can go further by giving remote employees desks, mouse pads, chairs, or extra monitors. If you don’t have specific office equipment in mind, you can simply give your employees a stipend to purchase the equipment they need themselves.
If you want to prioritize one part of the home office above all others though, it has to be internet access. A study by Stanford University found that only 65% of households in the U.S. had fast enough internet to handle video calls. If your remote employees don’t have good internet, all of the home office equipment in the world won’t make a difference.
Though you can’t exactly get your remote employees better internet providers, you can send them wifi range extenders like this one or a mesh wifi system like this to boost their signal (we have a guide on how to get faster internet if you want to check it out). At the very least, a great remote employee perk is to simply pay for their internet. Your in-office employees don’t pay for WiFi to work, so why should everyone else?
On top of primary benefits like health insurance, some benefits administration software systems allow you to manage and track optional benefits like stipends. As for all of that expensive, hard-to-replace technology you’re lending out to remote employees? An IT asset management platform is a must to make sure you know where every piece of equipment is and ensure it’s up-to-date with company standards.
If two remote employees make the same amount of money, but one lives in San Francisco, California while the other lives in Des Moines, Iowa, are they really making the same amount of money? No way. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,500 a month. In Des Moines, it’s less than $1,000.
Despite this, according to Gartner research, companies rarely account for cost of living differences when determining remote worker wages (full research available to Gartner clients). Just 21% of HR leaders said they did so before the COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic, only 15% plan to do so definitively, while 38% are considering it.
Is this, strictly speaking, a perk? Maybe not. But when you consider how rarely organizations factor the cost of living into remote employee wages, this could be a marketable way to stand out from the competition and attract remote talent to your business.
Compensation management software makes it easy to determine the right wages for all of your workers. Accounting for multiple factors—location, supply and demand, special skills, years of experience—these systems can help optimize salaries for current employees, or help you come up with the right salary range to post in your job openings.
As much as ‘Zoom fatigue’ has set in due to the pandemic, virtual events remain as one of the only ways that remote employees can bond with their co-workers. They’re a highly valuable perk, and if you’re too focused as a company on in-person events in the future, your remote team members are going to eventually feel left out.
Whether it’s a company-wide virtual event, or a smaller virtual get-together at the remote team level, companies should get creative to ensure these virtual events don’t become stale. Here are just a few examples of virtual events you can host beyond the typical hangout:
Use a website like Tabletop Simulator so remote employees can play virtual versions of some of their favorite board games together.
Have remote employees do tours of where they live, or host a virtual scavenger hunt to see who can find a list of items in their home the fastest.
Send employees a gift basket of cheese or wine, and host a virtual tasting session with an expert.
If you do host a big in-person event, like an annual party, make sure to capture it all on video so remote employees can see the highlights.
The remote workforce is only getting bigger, and companies are adjusting in response. When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, 49% of HR leaders told GetApp they plan to hire more fully remote employees than they do today, while 37% plan to offer more virtual perks and benefits.
Without the right remote employee perks that cater specifically to these workers, your chances of hiring and keeping them away from other companies will disappear. HR leaders, hiring managers, and recruiters should work together now to ensure their perks and benefits will allow them to achieve their workforce goals.
The GetApp COVID-19 Consumer & Employee Impact Survey 2020 was conducted in June 2020. We surveyed 564 people making up a representative sample (by age and gender) of the U.S. population. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.
The GetApp COVID-19 HR Impact Survey was conducted in August 2020. We surveyed 123 HR “leaders,” defined as CHROs, HR vice presidents, HR directors, HR managers, or any other role with HR leadership responsibilities at U.S.-based businesses. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.
The GetApp HR in the New Era Survey 2021 was conducted in January 2021. We surveyed 922 U.S. workers at small businesses with 2-500 employees. The responses are a representative sample (by age and gender) of each country’s population. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.