A flexible schedule is the most sought after work perk for Australian employees, according to a survey of 2,000 Australians.

Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of jobs site Seek asked workers what their most desired work benefit would be.

The results show that nearly a quarter of those surveyed believe that employee benefits play a “significant” role in deciding where they work.

Employment Hero chief people officer Alex Hattingh said that with major competition for talent in Australia, attractive perks can set businesses apart from the pack.

“Extensive research shows happy, engaged employees will not only stay longer, but they will perform better and your business will soar,” Hattingh said.

“Perks help you attract top talent and to retain and engage your employees.”

According to the Seek report, the top perks apart from salary are:

· the ability to choose their own working hours during the day

· extra time off for additional hours worked

· the ability to work from home

· health insurance

· subsidised education, training or personal development courses.

Offering flexible working hours can help to make a business more inclusive and welcoming to all, Hattingh said.

“Flexible working conditions are important for people to be involved in family activities, for example school drop-off and pick-up,” she said.

“Increasingly we are seeing both parents working, and this means that balancing children’s needs becomes complex unless you have the benefit of an employer offering flexible or remote working.”

But a business must ensure that they are ready to accommodate these flexible conditions before offering them as benefits.

“Ensure your managers are skilled and knowledgeable to support perks...you will need the right technology in place,” Hattingh said.

“Flexible working is not going to work if your employees don’t have tools like video conference technology and collaboration platforms to make it effective.”

And it’s important that these benefits are embraced from the top down, she said.

“A great way to have leaders display flexible working and family balance is to place in their calendars when they are doing school drop-off or pick-up or attending carnivals,” Hattingh said.
“This makes a big impact on employees feeling they too can leave early to be involved in family activities.”

Australian companies should also be proud of the benefits they offer and put them prominently in job advertisements and around the office on posters to remind employees of what’s on offer.

Most importantly, managers need to listen to their employees and what they want as perks.

“You need to keep revising what employees want,” Hattingh said. “Every six months ask for feedback on what you have and revise your perks plan accordingly. It’s also important to communicate any changes you are making and why.

“If you’re rolling out perks from scratch, the best way to start is to ask employees what they want. Don’t be afraid that employees will ask for everything – sometimes they will.”