“Soft” benefits: how to attract the best employees

We’re sure you already know, but the CJRS (furlough) is coming to a close at the end of September. Life, as we’ve known it for the past eighteen months or so, is due to spring back to “sort of normal”. So, what could this mean for the job market?

A change in workplace culture

The idea of employee wellbeing and the whispers of the elusive work-life balance target was beginning to gain traction pre-pandemic, but still seemed like a “nice to have but not essential” criteria at the beginning of 2020.

With lockdown came a shift in attitudes, both towards work and home life. Suddenly, we were shut in with our families; trying to juggle work and business visibility, homeschooling, pets Zoom Bombing meetings… all whilst attempting to maintain some semblance of personal wellbeing.

In corporate speak, it was a challenging time (and still is for many people). But the sudden shut down of the entire country has proved a catalyst for a change in workplace culture: we’ve realised that we actually rather like not having a hectic commute, and those people that we live with are quite nice really, and actually, we don’t particularly want to work an eighty-hour week.

So, what does this shift in attitudes and expectations mean for employers?

A big salary is no longer the main attraction

Money no longer equates to an increase in status, and the glorification of “busy” has lost its shine. Many job seekers are now looking for the “soft benefits” and advantages of working for particular companies, and this goes beyond decent pension prospects. We want a slice of the good life, and we don’t want to wait until retirement to get it.

“Benefits need to do many things: match your employer proposition, relate to different employee life stages, enable people to be the best version of themselves at work, and cater to both short-term needs, such as holidays, and long-term ones, such as pensions. But they also need to recognise and reward the right behaviour to ensure it is aligned with your mission and values…”

Robert Hicks, group HR director at Reward Gateway


So how can we attract the best employees?

Avoid empty promises

If you offer potential employees flexible or hybrid models of working at the job advertisement/interview stage, see this promise through. Allowing your team to work from home one day per month does not equate to flexible working.

Offer support, not micro-management

Needing your employees to be chained to their desks for eight hours a day, five days a week is not the most productive way to get the best out of them. Give them the creative freedom they need to do their jobs, and enable them to do so, rather than trying to control them.

Have a mental health support programme

Mental health was seen as the most important aspect of “whole health” by UK workers, with 69% ranking it the highest when considering their wellbeing, according to health service provider Cigna Europe.

The pandemic has brought the concept of mental health at work right to the forefront of our consciousness, and the enforced pause in work for furloughed employees has given many people the opportunity to re-evaluate their wellbeing.

Now, we’re not suggesting that you offer each employee company-funded therapy, but you can certainly look into having a dedicated mental health first aider with access to helpful resources for employees in crisis.

Have an inbox policy

Allow your employees to have protected time away from their email inboxes.

According to Human Resources Director, the average employee spends around four hours each day reading and responding to messages – with most workers receiving up to 120 emails every day.

Email anxiety is a deep-rooted fear of looking through your inbox – coupled with an innate inability not to.

But you can do small things to help manage this. Even adding a footer to your email signature that says your company supports flexible working, and while it suits you to send this email now, you do not expect the recipient to respond outside of their own working hours. This helps to take some of the pressure off the need to be available to employers 24/7.

As more of the economy reopens following Covid vaccinations and the end of social restrictions, demand for talent is fast outstripping supply – it’s now an employee’s market.

The above are just some of the “soft benefits” that companies can offer in order to attract the best candidates.


At Profile Resourcing, we’re here to help you get the best and most diverse talent for your team.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch today.


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