Standing out to top tech talent used to be all about the perks your business could offer. Tech companies offered amenities like yoga classes, gyms, restaurant-quality food, nap pods, game rooms, and more.
In the post-pandemic world, however, those types of perks don’t mean much to potential hires. The proliferation of remote work and the flexibility that affords employees in terms of where they can live, when they can work, and how work fits into their lives is much more valuable than any sort of in-office perk.
Why take a fitness class when you can work online and live near amazing hiking trails? Why would you care about a nap pod when you can work from home and nap in your own bed? Why would you want a ridesharing reimbursement when you don’t need to commute at all?
At a time when the competition for top high-tech talent is fiercer than it’s ever been, businesses are finding out that traditional perks just don’t cut it anymore. “At the end of the day, mental health and the ability to live your life and work—those are the main perks that companies should be focused on,” Sarah Vedas, Director of Employer Brand, Advocacy, and Social Marketing at Intel says.
Opinions are split when it comes to how big of an impact work from home has on employee productivity. A recent study co-authored by researchers at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, predicted that working from home is here to stay.
“Our data on employer plans and the relative productivity of WFH imply a 5% productivity boost in the post-pandemic economy due to re-optimized working arrangements,” according to the research paper. They note, however, that only a fifth of this productivity gain will show up in traditional metrics because they don’t capture the time savings from less commuting.
Amazon, however, is making a push to reestablish an “office-centric culture” as quickly as possible, according to the Washington Post. At the moment, Facebook is going back to its one-day-a-week policy from before the pandemic.
As policies continue to evolve, however, conversations around who gets to work from home and how often have become even more heated. Many businesses that don’t offer flexibility are going to find themselves with a retention problem.
Work-life balance has transformed from something you pay lip service to on your website to a core value you need to sincerely commit to. “What we’re hearing from talent now is they’ve been setting boundaries and expectations for themselves and talent’s leaving—they know there are other opportunities,” Vedas says. “If you want to continue to hire and retain top talent, you really have to live into those values of mental health, wellness, and having that break from work to live your life.”
Coming out of COVID-19, there are a few things leadership can do to create a more supportive and sustainable culture:
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