Employers consider incentives to attract staff back to the office

Almost a third of employers in Northern Ireland are planning to change their hybrid working offering this year and will ask staff to come into the office more frequently, according to a new survey from Business in the Community member organisation Hays.

Almost a third of employers in Northern Ireland are planning to change their hybrid working offering this year and will ask staff to come into the office more frequently, according to a new survey from Hays.

Hays’ annual What Workers Want survey, which received 8,853 responses including 382 from NI, found that 69% of the Northern Ireland-based employers surveyed offered hybrid working to staff.

Over half (54%) of Northern Ireland professionals said their preferred way of working is hybrid, while 26% said they prefer fully working in the office, and only 20% have a preference for fully remote working.

According to the survey, 43% of local employers offer flexible working to all staff, whereas 53% assess each role individually when deciding whether to offer flexible working options.

Of the employers polled, 28% said they expect their hybrid offering to change this year, with 12% saying they are already offering incentives to encourage staff back to the office and a further 13% of employers said they are considering it.

The most popular incentives being offered by employers include:

  • Access to better hardware/software in the office (50%)
  • Bike storage and showers (50%)
  • Onsite café and free drinks (42%)
  • Paid or subsidised access to gym facilities (33%)
  • Social events (33%)
  • Paid or subsidised travel (25%)

The most popular incentives with staff are subsidised lunches (45%), on-site café (42%), subsidised travel (42%) and access to gym facilities (38%).

While some employers are keen to attract staff back to the workplace, 44% of those surveyed expected the proportion of employees based fully remotely to increase in the next 12 months, compared with 22% who think it will decrease and 33% who expect numbers to stay the same.

A conclusive 82% of the employers surveyed said transparency about their organisation’s approach to flexible working is very or quite important to attracting staff, while 94% of staff viewed it was very or quite important. Of the employees surveyed 72% said the use of hybrid or remote working is included in their contract.

John Moore, Managing Directors of Hays in NI said: “While people working in many industries have to be in their workplace every day to do their job, for those whose roles are more office based and reliant only on having access to a computer and the internet, there has been a cultural shift towards remote and hybrid working patterns since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many employers have adapted and accepted that hybrid will be their model for the long term. But others now feel they need more time when their people are together and are offering incentives to encourage people into the workplace.

“Each employer will need to find what works for them but while the labour market is so tight, it is incumbent on them to work out what it is that prospective employees want in order to join or stay with their organisation.”

The survey also found that employers continue to introduce new measures to improve employee wellbeing, with a view to retaining and attracting talent.

Hays found 16% of organisations said they have implemented no meetings during lunch or certain hours of the day, 15% say they have put in place a limit on the duration of meetings, and 9% have implemented meeting free days.

Although 71% of employers said they haven’t put any restrictions on meetings over half (54%) of professionals said they would find it useful if their employer encouraged no meetings during lunch or at a set time, 41% said it would be useful to have a mandated limit on the length of meetings, and 34% said it would be beneficial to have meeting free days.

For more information or to request a copy of the report, please contact Matthew.McArthur@hays.com.