Redefing employee benefits

The way employers look at employees has changed over the years now. From being just a provider of opportunities to individuals, companies have had to graduate and evolve to accommodate the growing expectations of their talent pool. 30 – 40 years back, skills brought to the table were rewarded with salary. Nowadays, that is not enough. The pay grades have gradually increased and are in alignment with the lifestyle these days not to mention competitive too in the respective markets. But – something is always missing. The human resources teams across time have had so much to learn and unlearn. Salary and leaves were not enough. In came benefits.

It started off as fuel reimbursements. Benefits slowly began to adapt to the average age of employees in a company. From food coupons – which was the most basic and easy to introduce benefit, HR teams have had to quickly evolve to offer other benefits such as phone and internet bill reimbursement, books and periodicals related reimbursements, ability to borrow unused days of leave from your colleagues, office wear reimbursements and even spa reimbursements from massages for employees. With the introduction of GST and other tax related guidelines though, some of these benefits have become difficult to offer to employees.

Of all the varied options we had or have (in part), one of the best and most fulfilling benefits we have seen is health and wellness related. In the day and age of spending most of your time on chairs, with wheels no less, having opportunities to get up and walk around are far and few. Many companies have started building gyms or studio spaces and hiring trainers and instructors who bring fitness to the comfort of their offices. Linkedin, for example, has a state of the art gym with trainers completely equipped for all their employees to work out and stay fit while at office.

Apple went one step further and also introduced standing workstations for all their employees at Apple Park. CEO Tim Cook, revealed the only insider detail so far about Apple Park – their new headquarters and said that all employees now have wide workstations that could double up as standing desks as well. He said that it was a step to improve all employees’ lifestyles and also cited doctors who said that “sitting is the new cancer.” Being seated for long hours is murder to your spine and to make sure you get up and walk around is not possible every time.

So many companies are now acknowledging the need to offer places in their work space where their employees can stand, stretch their spines and work as opposed to being perpetually seated. It is a very small step which is not as expensive as is perceived but goes such a long way to helping care for your spine. It is our responsibility as employers to offer as much support as we can to our employees to take care of their health and wellness. Sponsoring gym memberships is useful only to those who diligently go and workout. There are a lot of other employees who’d rather use whatever their employers can offer at office itself to make tiny lifestyle changes.

Standing desks are a great way to begin if you’re confused about how to introduce health and wellness benefits for your teams. They are portable, sleek, inexpensive as opposed to other benefits and yet are powerfully rewarding for your teams’ spines. Ergonomically designed furniture is in demand and rightfully so. Skimping on such basic necessities is in bad taste and penny wise pound foolish. Your teams bring a lot to the table, let’s give them one that helps them stand for better health!

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