In the current tight labour market, a low 3.5 per cent unemployment rate and high employee mobility – with data showing three in five Australians could switch jobs this year – many businesses expect to face challenges in attracting and retaining staff.
Now new research from a leading travel management company has found clues to the entitlements that might retain talented staff – if the employer can afford it. The three entitlements that attracted the most interest by Australians were additional paid leave, a four-day working week, and international travel for work.
The findings were derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1,001 Australians, commissioned by Corporate Traveller, Australia’s leading travel management company for SMEs and a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group.
The survey respondents were presented with a list of 11 perks and were asked to select the top three they would most want their company to offer them this year. The entitlements appealed to the majority (86 per cent).
Corporate Traveller presented these 11 entitlements to 1,001 Australian respondents:
- Travel, including international travel
- ‘Working holidays,’ whereby I am permitted to work remotely at a holiday location
- Gym membership
- Additional paid leave days, such as birthday leave
- Covering some or all of the costs of my work commute, including car allowance
- A permanent hybrid or remote working arrangement
- Company shares
- Early finishes on a Friday or a four-day work week
- Charity programs whereby employees do volunteer work on paid working days
- Access to company car
- Company-paid meals and snacks at work
Employees want more time away from the workplace
It seems that workers are seeking more time away from work. Forty-one (41) per cent want additional paid leave days, 37 per cent would like to finish early on a Friday or work four days a week, and an equal 27 per cent would value travel (including international travel) or have their commuting costs covered.
Tom Walley, the Australian-based global managing firector at Corporate Traveller, said: “Our survey results show that Aussies may be seeking a better work-life balance through more leave, shorter weeks, and more travel.”
The four-day work week has gained steam in the last couple of years, with companies across countries such as Canada, the UK, Belgium, and Japan testing its viability. Microsoft in Japan, for instance, reported a 40 per cent increase in productivity, along with more efficient meetings and happier employees, after trialling the four-day work week. Closer to home, Unilever New Zealand reported increased engagement among employees, improved work-life balance, reduced stress and a 34 per cent drop in absenteeism, following their trial program.
Walley adds: “It’s encouraging to discover that travel is also highly valued by our survey respondents. Not only are 27 per cent keen to travel for their work, but 21 per cent are also interested in having access to working holiday opportunities in their job.
“Travelling for meetings and events offers numerous opportunities to connect with peers in the industry, make new contacts that are valuable to the business, and sourcing new-business leads. I’m a firm believer that face-to-face communication is essential for creating deeper connections with stakeholders and prospects. The variety that travel provides in an employee’s career also helps keep them motivated and engaged.
“If travel isn’t a key component of the organisation, employers could seek industry events and conferences or training programs – whereby staff can network, seek new business prospects and learn new skills, all of which can contribute to business success – as an effective tactic to retaining travel-hungry employees.”
Employers covering personal and work-related costs are less valued
The desire for employees to have the cost of their commute covered by their workplace was also a high priority for 27 per cent of Corporate Traveller’s survey respondents.
Research shows that the average Australian spends around $112 per week commuting, equivalent to approximately $4,924 a year, including petrol costs, and while public transport costs can vary, employees can still be thousands of dollars out-of-pocket a year.
Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents would like to be offered company-paid meals and snacks at work, while one in five (19 per cent) would love a permanent hybrid or remote working arrangement.
A gym membership (chosen by 17 per cent), access to a company car (16 per cent), company shares (15 per cent), and charity programs allowing employees to do volunteer work on paid working days (six per cent) were less popular entitlements.
Most valued work perks by age groups
- A higher proportion of younger Australians are interested in additional paid leave, with 49 per cent of under-30s and 48 per cent of 31-50-year-olds choosing it as a valued perk
- 30 per cent of over-50s would like additional paid leave
- Travel came out as the second most sought-after perk for under-30s (at 40 per cent)
- 31-50-year-olds preference shorter workdays or work weeks
- This perk was the third top choice for under-30s, chosen by 38 per cent, and the second top choice for over-50s, chosen by 28 per cent
- 22 per cent of over-50s were attracted to having the costs of their work commute covered, a perk that was also identified as the third top choice for 30 per cent of 31-50-year-olds.
Walley added: “Our survey results offer valuable insight into the benefits that employees desire the most and will be seeking out this year. Businesses could consider offering new perks to remain competitive and attract and retain valuable employees. In particular, conducting similar trials of a four-day work week, exploring travel opportunities, and offering valued leave entitlements could be key to onboarding good talent this year.”
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