Australian workers are seeking more benefits from their employers – additional leave and more flexibility are top of the list.
A new survey conducted by Smartsalary found that nine in ten HR managers believe employee benefits play a key role in attracting new staff and increasing staff engagement.
HR professional Melissa Behrend believes staff retention has become a hot topic since the GFC as companies look to keep skills within the business and look after their bottom line.
“With staff retention, people are trying to do things for their employees in smarter and cheaper ways,” Behrend said.
The survey found that when structuring benefit packages, HR managers are strongly influenced by business and operational factors. The cost of the benefit to the organisation was their primary consideration.
As well as leave and flexibility benefits, salary packaging, wellness programs like gym memberships, access to consumer retail discounts, and leisure and lifestyle memberships were cited as the most popular benefits. Employees are also looking for training and other career development opportunities.
“With our skills shortages in Australia, you’re getting people at the end of their working careers who would like to have some sort of flexibility arrangement within the workplace so they can be retained,” Behrend said.
“You’ll also find that a lot of fathers are wanted to get more flexibility, being able to buy more annual leave so they can spend more time with their children. Flexibility is core at the moment, for every employer,” she said.
However, Behrend believes providing employees with different benefits may just be putting a band-aid on the real problem.
“Unless a company’s got their core values and company culture cemented in and provides a great working environment, I don’t think staff retention in terms of employee benefits is going to assist them,” Behrend said.
“It needs to be a nice place to work, from the aesthetics through to the types of personalities you recruit within that business. The leadership of the CEO or the MD also needs to come through quite strongly,” she added.