The practical and economic impacts of COVID are leading many organisations to rethink how they operate, including their approach to rewarding, and engaging with, their people. Many organisations are now in a salary freeze environment and are seeking new ways to deliver extra value to team members, particularly those on reduced hours and pay. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions worth exploring.
Long before COVID, organisations knew that the value they offered employees went beyond their salary. A combination of pay, affiliation, work content, career, and benefits can all contribute to a compelling Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Thanks to COVID, some of these EVP components have taken a substantial hit, placing employee wellbeing further in the spotlight.
Salaries are stagnant or on the slide
In many organisations salaries have been cut, with other financial incentives and bonuses taken off the table or put on hold indefinitely. Under the circumstances, employees who have taken a hit to their income may be grateful to have kept their jobs, but it still leaves them worse off. The impact may be worse still for households where other income earners have been stood down or made redundant. This is why obtaining greater financial value from an EVP is likely to have become a higher priority for employees right now.
Employees are isolated from each other
Humans are a social species. The impact of ‘social distancing’ and remote work on individual mental health may not be known for some time. What we do know is that affiliation is a significant component of EVP. This is seen when individuals voluntarily forgo higher pay elsewhere to stay affiliated with their current employer, staying loyal to its mission, values, reputation, culture and community.
It is not just physical separation that puts organisational affiliation at risk. Many organisations have needed to make tough decisions, and these decisions may, in turn, be judged harshly by their people. So it’s more important than ever to ensure individual employees feel engaged and valued.
The nature of work has changed
‘What do you do?’ is one of the most common questions asked in a social setting, demonstrating just why there can be such a strong link between work and our sense of identity. On a day-to-day basis, our working lives also provide a sense of purpose and structure in the variety, challenges, autonomy, and feedback we experience through our work. Changes to team structures, roles, systems, and processes as a result of COVID have the potential to significantly impact the EVP and in turn employees, as both individuals and as a team.
Career prospects look bleak
Career advancement opportunities and organisational growth often go hand in hand. With organisational growth under threat, employees are likely to be frustrated about their immediate career prospects. Organisations would normally offset career stagnation with personal growth and training however innovation may be needed now to deliver these opportunities despite broader organisational restrictions.
Benefits matter more than ever
Benefits – including salary packaging, health, work arrangements, and tuition – are an area of the EVP that is often underused and undervalued by organisations and their people. But for many employees, COVID has granted access to a benefit they do value, with working from home becoming the norm for many organisations. This change comes with the real possibility that some employees will not be going back to the office full time, even after restrictions are eased.
However, it’s important to recognise that working from home does not suit everyone or every role. This principle is also true of other benefits, so it’s important to have a suite of benefits for employees to choose from to maximise the value of your EVP.
The benefits are there for the taking
Organisations and employees are currently dealing with high levels of uncertainty. The challenge is even greater when HR – like other teams – are asked to do more with less.
Employee benefits programs shine a light on the opportunity to create extra value for employees in the current economic environment, particularly those that come at no cost to the organisation. Unlike pay, affiliation, work content and career, employee benefits have not been diminished by the pandemic. Exploring employee benefits options within your HR team could set your organisation on the right path to finding innovative solutions for your people, as they search for more rewards from their work and your EVP in this challenging environment.