DAM Good Roundtable Talk

By KRaynes

DAM Good Roundtable Talk

HR in Hospitality blog 21 April 2022- Esther O’Halloran (Chair)

“Has Covid-19 changed employees' & employers' perceptions of employee benefits?”

We heard thought provoking and insightful perspectives from some of our senior HR leaders during the DAM roundtable breakfast discussion, hosted at the wonderful Café Royal Hotel. We know we are still firefighting as a sector and trying to get back on track.

Here is a summary of the key issues we talked about, how many of you are facing the same challenges and experiences following the pandemic?

What are you seeing out in your businesses?
Are people still looking for ‘cafeteria benefits’ to suit their life cycle, but this depends on where they are in their career rather than black and white benefits, they want a bit more financial security.
• Everything has evolved for many businesses and we are seeing lots of aspirational benefits but times have changed and with increases in inflation staff are looking now to what they immediately need as their situation changes.
• Some businesses are struggling to keep HQ staff out of the office now, they want to be back in person. Some have become more flexible on start times for housekeeping for example who can come in much later now.
• One thing pre-pandemic was staff moaning about lunch and staff canteen facilities, but have now noticed a increase in Uber Eats delivery and staff going out to Wholefoods for healthy options.
• Some hotels stopped/paused staff discount rates during the pandemic whilst others did the opposite and really promoted and encouraged staff to stay.
• Not seeing any evidence of people opting out of auto enrolment increasing despite people feeling their wages are being squeezed.
• Some hotels now offer unlimited counselling and access to EAP to support mental health and wellbeing.

Do you know what is important to your staff?
Most organisations do pulse surveys and ask their teams how they are feeling and understand what’s behind the message that comes back in response to the questions.
• 80% are more responsive to organisations that offered hybrid working, but what does this look like for a chef or a waiter, what applies to our industry and what should we be doing?
• For many what they want is immediate money in the bank, to be paid properly achieve a good worklife balance.
• Issue we are primarily facing now is one of pay and rewards, the most popular App is West End employers where staff can access discounts in retailers.
• Some questioned if they could be better at promoting all of the benefits to staff and improve awareness of what is on offer, (access to spa facilities promoting wellbeing).
• One of the biggest reasons cited for people turning down roles is they cannot take their dogs to work!
• One employer is even offering discounted tattoos for their staff as that is what they wanted! How cool is that for GenZ?

DAM Research showed a slight disconnect where ee’s ranked flexible working hours and improved mental health as their top two compared to er’s who thought flexibility for working from home and L&D. But what they did discover is that GenZ want to give things back. So do you need to get that generation in the room as a focus group and give them a voice to what they want so that you can better understand the gap?

DAM research also asked how important has communication to ee’s been post Covid? HR said it is a high priority for them but ee’s responded with only 28% saying it has been done very well. Does this tell us that still the Number One thing we’re often told as an organisation is that we are not good at this in general?
• Some have introduced Yammer to feed information to staff but how have your staff responded to this. Despite people and culture messages going out most staff want personal communication from the leaders, they want to see a face/person. Who communicates and how to inform teams of what is happening in your organisation is critical, the more you give them the more invested they become and feel proprietorial. They want a sense of belonging to something bigger so will put the extra effort in, that human connection.
• Some have started an Instagram for ee’s and this has seen a higher level of engagement tagging what they are doing and commenting. But they still do colleague get together’s with senior leaders, it is about getting the balance between in person and online communication.
• Others use a range of comms that suits all generations; ‘Yapster’ you can control the comms that comes to you, switch on/off or time it using ‘intelligent muting’. This is good as it provides measures of any comms tool you use to engage with your staff.
• Others have embraced video and using TikTok as a communication business tool to launch their benefits.

DAM research asked, is the benefits package relevant and are ee’s fully utilising them? Most HR professionals feel the benefits are but less ee’s do, yet 75% are not utilising the er’ benefit package! Some often feel it is not particularly as relevant to them as it should be. So, how do you find out what is relevant to your ee’s?
• West One hotels provide good benchmarking data that is shared and can give you insight into what motivates ee’s about benefits.
• We all inform joiners on day one of all of the amazing benefits we offer, but it is good to remind them at various stages after as it is easy to feel overwhelmed on day with so much other information. Some factor in reminders at a month and again at the three month probationary point. Multi comms reminders: via email, text, posters etc help.
• Some arrange specific events such as a benefits breakfast for the team on what is great, showcasing all the things you do as a company and getting people talking about important topics, such as; menopause, fertility, policy making, working from home all the stuff you offer to raise awareness.
• Others have translated their benefits such as Life Assurance into multiple languages for staff to better explain what the benefits are and this helps to make sense to them. They also have benefit forms in various languages to ensure staff are fully aware of the detail and meaning of these benefits.

DAM research asked if offering total reward statements would impact recruitment and retention? Responses suggested it would yet only 33% offer the total reward statements why is this? Is it lack of resource time to prepare these or has it been a low priority in the past?
• Consideration could be given to potentially automate these statements but are your systems capable of collating this information and talking to each other? What is the scale of this?
• Could you publish your benefits and what they are worth in terms of monetary £pound value, such as your free meals? For example something as simple as the value of staff meals. All you would need to do is take an average meal deal lunch cost of a sandwich, drink for the average office worker who pays £7 and add it up (7 x 5 days = £35 x 48 weeks = £1680)! Think of the value of all the other thing you offer these all add up!

In the end, what is important for people in the current climate is that we as employers are looking after their overall wellbeing as much as we can and highlighting the benefits we can offer, reminding them about it always. We need to think about the benefits that impact on people’s lives. But what does this mean tomorrow for your people what benefits have you paused due to the pandemic, do you need to start them again?
• We know that discretionary sick pay not just SSP is important, so do you offer above SSP?
• We know that many people are concerned about finances and stretching their budgets, so do you offer financial wellbeing support through your EAP or have a clear policy on this?
• We know that looking after ourselves physically involves eating well so is your staff food and canteen up to scratch, are you offering nutritious hot food daily or just a cold sandwich?
• We know that wellbeing also involves keeping physically fit so do you allow your teams access to your spa, pool or fitness gyms and encourage this if you have them?

So, in summary covid has changed everyone’s perception of their work, the workplace and their worklife balance. So, finding out what matters most to your employees, talking to them and communicating what you offer will be an important part of engagement and retention moving forward.