5 workplace benefits employees want this year

The coronavirus pandemic changed the workforce in 2020, and employees have high expectations for the benefits and perks their employers will provide in 2021.

Employees are looking for better diversity efforts, more flexibility and other benefits that provide an optimal employee experience, according to a recent survey by software company Citrix. The survey polled 2,500 employees and HR professionals to find out how employee expectations have shifted during the pandemic and what they are looking for in the workplace.

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“The pandemic has forever changed the way employees view and approach work, and if businesses want to attract and retain the talent they need to move forward, they must understand their mindset and desires and develop plans to accommodate them today,” said Tim Minahan, executive vice president of strategy at Citrix, in a press release. “Work is no longer about getting the most out of people, but the best.”

Here are five benefits employees want to see this year:

Workplace flexibility

Remote work has become the norm during the pandemic, and employees want to keep it that way: 88% of employees surveyed said they want to work for an organization that offers “complete flexibility” when it comes to their location and hours worked.

Additionally, 83% of employees would consider moving out of cities and other popular urban areas if they were allowed to work remotely the majority of the time, the survey found. While employers including Facebook and Slack have announced their employees can work remotely indefinitely, they’ve also suggested they’d make potential pay cuts for employees living in areas with a lower cost of living. Sixty-two percent of employees would be willing to take a paycut if it allowed them to work from home, according to a survey from software companies GoTo and LogMeIn.

Read more: Moved during COVID? A third of bosses say they’ll cut your pay

Upgraded technology

Platforms like Zoom, Slack and other workplace solutions have kept the workplace running during the pandemic. Eighty-nine percent of employees said remote work technologies have made them more productive, and 73% say it has made them more communicative with their managers and teams, Citrix found.

Technology will continue to play an important role in retaining top talent in the remote workforce, with 88% of respondents telling Citrix that technology tools are now a major factor in whether they plan to keep or leave their current position.

Read more: 6 ways technology changed the workplace in 2020

Educational opportunities

Employees want an opportunity to learn new skills or build on their existing strengths, even during quarantine. Eighty-two percent of employees want training at least once a year to stay competitive in their fields, Citrix found.

But employers have a large gap to fill: a report by West Monroe Partners found that 56% of employees feel their organization’s skills gap is moderate to severe, and 63% believe their manager is not equipped to help upskill their teams.

Read more: How to avoid a pandemic pause on professional development

Diversity initiatives

After a year of difficult conversations around diversity in the workplace, employees will continue to demand meaningful efforts toward change. Citrix found that 86% of employees believe that a diverse workforce will become even more important as roles, skills and company requirements change.

Employers including Merck, GM, Walmart and Bank of America have all pledged to close the racial gaps in their workforce. However, 65% of employees are not confident their organization will prioritize diversity initiatives, Citrix found.

Read more: Salesforce, Google rank high with new Glassdoor diversity ratings

Less focus on output

While employers may have feared productivity would drop once employees began working from home, the majority of employers have reported the same or higher levels of productivity, according to Mercer. But 86% of employees would prefer to be evaluated by the quality over quantity of their work, Citrix found.

A more hands-off approach would make employees work harder and feel more valued by their employer: 69% percent said they are more productive when they feel their employer trusts them to get their work done without being monitored.

Read more: 4 ways to help employees work smarter, not harder