Do people want only financial benefits after the pandemic?

The expectations of employees have changed, especially after the pandemic, and employers have become more sensitive too.

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The coronavirus pandemic was hard on the working class. Not only did it render many unemployed, it nearly ate into their savings. With the lockdown getting extended, and the need for hospitalisation growing, people had to shell out money to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and breathing. They realised how important medical insurance and health cover were.

Following successful vaccination drives, soon things seemed to be slowly getting back on track. Companies welcomed back employees, and even began to woo fresh talent with bonuses and other enticements.

Money is primary

Google, for instance, granted $1, 600 to its entire staff in addition to the perks and work-from- home allowance it had already offered them earlier. The bonus was clearly designed to provide extra support and financial stability to the employees. Earlier, Microsoft had also given $1, 500 as pandemic bonus to its employees. For many, this extra money was a relief and kept them going in times of extreme financial stress.

“Organisations have provided different kinds of benefits to their employees. They have granted ESOPs and total compensations as part of their wellness initiatives, but financial benefits are not common yet, at least right now”

Anurag Verma, vice president – human resources, Uniphore

Before the pandemic, there was less weight given to the wellbeing of the employees. They were granted the usual yearly bonuses, limited number of vacations, and care packages according to company plans. Overall, however, there wasn’t as much concern for how the employees are coping. At least, not in the way that required companies to drastically give out aids in order to support employees.

Now, with the arrival of new variants of the virus, and the constant uncertainty surrounding the status of the pandemic, people realise that more than anything else, it is financial stability that they should be seek from their jobs. Many employees may expect their employers to offer monetary benefits, which are clearly more useful in these times as compared to extra holidays, or meditation classes or other virtual ‘feel good’ events.

Anurag Verma, vice president – human resources, Uniphore, says, “Organisations have provided different kinds of benefits to their employees. They have granted ESOPs and total compensations as part of their wellness initiatives, but financial benefits are not common yet, at least right now.”

“In tech-oriented, and new-age organisations, the employees are expecting a mix of benefits, other than financial help alone,” Verma says. By providing a bouquet of benefits, the companies are aiming to cover more areas in which they can help their workers.

“The financial importance has gone down after the pandemic as people have realised the importance and value of life. They’re less likely to think in monetary terms now than before”

Sachin Narke, chief learning officer, head- talent acquisition, and head-HR, Forbes Marshall

Jai Balan, head – HR at Bharti AXA Life Insurance says, “There hasn’t been any significant change in the employees’ priorities after the pandemic. They’re largely accepting whatever benefits the companies are granting them. There hasn’t been a slide into any of the extremes where the employees are looking for specific, monetary grants.”

Money is secondary

Sachin Narke, chief learning officer, head- talent acquisition, and head-HR, Forbes Marshall, holds a totally different opinion. “The financial importance has gone down after the pandemic as people have realised the importance and value of life. They’re less likely to think in monetary terms now than before.”

“Of course, money is still very important,” Narke says, but in relative terms, it has a secondary position in the list of priorities for people when they think about receiving perks from the company. Employees are more likely to prioritise time with their families, so they may prefer leave packages, vacations, and early time offs, more than money.

While this may be true for those with stronger financial conditions, people who have limited income and have no other way of making money will naturally hope that their companies will support them financially in times of need.

Companies still seem to be leaning into providing money to their employees because the preference for financial stability in the post-pandemic world is higher than any other need. Money also ensures that the employees have something extra to hold onto besides their salaries in times of emergency.

“There hasn’t been any significant change in the employees’ priorities after the pandemic. They’re largely accepting whatever benefits the companies are granting them”

Jai Balan, head – HR at Bharti AXA Life Insurance

Clearly, the pandemic has made companies more vigilant about their employees. Employers are taking better care of the needs of their workforces. The benefits that companies provide should ideally be in line with what is important for their employees. After all, employees’ needs change according to the environment at the workplace and their personal lives. Organisations should focus on how to provide for their wellness without making any concessions. This can be achieved by being closer to the ground level, and listening to employees’ wishes. That will help them form plans that cater to employees’ immediate needs.

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