Free yoga lessons, pet-friendly offices and beer on tap – but how are companies playing catch-up when it comes to sustainable work perks?
Over the past few years, employee benefits have been climbing their way up the ranks, moving anywhere from complimentary granola, to monthly fitness passes on the house. And with the current pandemic continuing and catalyzing new approaches to work, it seems perks that come with the job are also getting a reset: shifting away from their sometimes divisive reputations of simply being tools for company one-upmanship or getting employees to work overtime.
As COVID-19 transforms the way we approach work, topics like mental health and sustainability have moved to the forefront, forcing employers to rethink the value their extra benefits bring. We’d even go as far as saying that companies offering gimmicky work perks are forced to play catch-up. What’s more, if employers don’t, they likely fall behind in finding their place in the modern work world – aligning themselves with inflexible, outdated thinking.
WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani’s recent disparaging comments about employees working remotely, is a pertinent example. By refusing to acknowledge a changing approach to the company-employer relationship, Mathrani and his company are suddenly associated with being behind the times, and ironically, very far away from the entrepreneurism and flexibility that is at the core of the coworking spaces’ promise to workers (as well as its initial Unicorn success).
But more modern and thoughtful approaches to work, like hybrid work models, are here to stay. And that shift in mentality, where caring about adding value for employees, is starting to serve two purposes: being emblematic of what constitutes a modern, flexible workplace, whilst simultaneously exposing a company’s outdated outlook simply in their choice of not acknowledging where the value lies in the first place – with the employee.
And it’s not just startups who are paying attention to how they can offer true value to their employees. At FutureBens, we’ve welcomed new social business Tomorrow Bank on board, but also players like Google and Soundcloud have joined us in wanting to offer their team sustainable employee benefits – and ultimately, make it easier for them to develop more sustainable purchasing habits, all in one place.
We believe that adding value in benefits can also be a point of learning for working adults to gain a richer insight into a companies’ culture and mission, as well as how planet-friendly they are. Or even helping them understand to what extent the employer considers their employees as needing more than just a transactional relationship.
Being able to find conscious, sustainable brands all in one place – at discounts on the house (of the employer) – can thus foster a more positive work environment, but also encourage healthy habits. Whether that’s choosing sugar-free and fair trade chocolate bars from Nu Company, plastic-free and taboo-busting female products from The Female Company, or well-made, sustainably manufactured furniture from Noah Living.
Sustainable work perks are ultimately about helping to foster planet-friendly habits for employees, giving them something more than just a regular contract, and continuously responding to what’s required when taking a modern approach to work perks: making them valuable, relevant, and forward-thinking.