As businesses have settled into “the new normal” over the past year, employees have more or less adjusted to working from home. While it’s true that working from home has its own conveniences (No commuting! Elastic waistband pants!), it also makes it easy for employees to become disconnected from the pulse of the workplace and fall into the monotony of clocking in and out every day. As an employer, it’s up to you to keep your workplace culture alive, and continue to support employees working from home.
With some creativity, supporting the WFH employee isn’t actually much more complicated (or expensive) than what you may have been doing pre-COVID. Here are four ways that you can keep your employees engaged, content, and connected while they work from home.
- Lifestyle benefits
- Virtual fitness
- Flexible hours
- Lunch socials
1. Lifestyle benefits
Gym memberships and reimbursement on fitness-related expenses are the most commonly known type of lifestyle benefits. But why stop there? Grocery, transportation, childcare, pet care, education, and takeout/delivery are also lifestyle allowances that many employers provide their employees, and don’t cost any more for the employer to offer.
Offering lifestyle benefits doesn’t have to be costly, especially if you simply reallocate funds that were once meant for events or employee lunches. With lifestyle benefits, you may find that supporting employees working from home to be quite similar to how you would’ve supported them before – offering them an allowance for groceries/takeout from your work lunch budget, for example.
Offering lifestyle benefits are a great way to continue to make employees feel appreciated while they WFH, and is a way to boost your overall compensation package and support employees’ work/life balance.
Lifestyle benefits are administered through an Allowance Account, also known as a Lifestyle Spending Account. The employer deposits a monthly allowance amount into their employees’ accounts, and chooses which categories, expenses, and the amount they would like to offer to employees. What’s more, the entire process is automated and easily administered virtually.
Ultimate Guide to Lifestyle Spending Accounts
The only resource you’ll ever need on Lifestyle Spending Accounts.
Read it here.
2. Virtual fitness
Has your fitness regimen been slipping lately? You wouldn’t be the only one. Working from home has made it far too easy – and tempting – to slide into complacency as walking to the office and gym visits have become obsolete. In reality, maintaining one’s physical health is just as important as ever.
Consider offering a weekly virtual group fitness class led by a personal trainer or yoga instructor. Many gyms and studios offer corporate wellness classes, and there are a wide selection of options to choose from. Have fun with it!
Before you commit, it’s always a good idea to survey your employees to gauge the level of interest and availability.
3. Flexible hours
It might be human nature to stick with what we know, but it’s time to rethink the traditional 9-5 workday. For employees who don’t partake in shift work or are customer facing (i.e. work dependant on time-specific tasks), consider giving them more leeway in choosing their own hours if you haven’t already. Offering flexible work times is a “soft benefit” that requires no cost or administration on the employer’s part, but can serve as a great boon for employees.
For example, a parent of young children may opt to start their workday early in the morning before their children wake up and end when they come home from daycare or school at 3pm.
Regardless of the reason, flexible hours give employees the control to balance their work and personal lives without making undue sacrifices. It’s a great way for an employer to garner employee loyalty, decrease work presenteeism and turnover, and stand out as a place to work.
What is Presenteeism in the Workplace (And How is it Affecting Your Business)?
Clocking in and productively working are two separate things.
Learn more here.
4. Lunch socials
As we work from home, casual, organic office chatter has fallen to the wayside in lieu of Zoom meetings that are all business. While there’s no question that work productivity should be a priority in any workplace, the employee culture an employer chooses to set is what separates a tolerable workplace from a truly enjoyable. And during a time when employees are working from home, this holds true more than ever.
If in-person employee lunches are not possible, why not organize an hour at lunchtime for your employees to eat and socialize virtually once every few weeks? Taking the time to relax, chat, and catch up keeps the pulse of your workplace alive and helps build team rapport. It can be especially helpful if you have any new members on your team who may not have had the opportunity to get to know their new coworkers in an informal setting.
As employees work from home, it’s more important than ever to maintain the workplace culture and employer DNA that is uniquely yours. And while times have been tough for many (and perhaps precisely because times have been tough for many), there are many ways that an employer can continue to support their employees working from home without breaking the bank.