For sales:  1300 352 734Login

What to do when you can’t give your employees a pay rise

With Australia now experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, companies continue to feel the pressure of the pandemic. Unfortunately, this also means that employees may have to keep waiting for their promotions and pay rises due to constrained resources. This, of course, is likely to lead to lower employee morale.

But there are ways for companies to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic. One of the best solutions is to consider expanding your benefits offerings. These additional offerings can support your employees in key areas during this challenging time and also provide some financial relief to make up for the lack of a pay rise. Below, we share four categories of benefits to consider: 

Flexible work benefits 

According to a study, a flexible work arrangement is one of the ‘must have’ benefits for Australian employees. This is especially prevalent now, as employees are feeling the stress of balancing their work and home lives once again. Here are some flexible work benefits to consider: 

  • Flexible working hours. The 9 to 5 schedule doesn’t work for all employees – especially those with families and children. Allow your workforce to choose their own hours so they don’t have to stress about being online at a time that’s inconvenient for them. This will not only relieve stress but also demonstrate to employees that you understand and respect their individual needs. 
  • Work from home options. Whether your employees have recently returned to the office or are still remote, it may be a good time to either extend or offer up work from home options as an alternative to being in the office. As COVID-19 cases escalate again, you want to make sure everyone feels safe while they work. 
  • Home office setups. If you do have employees working from home, relieve some of the burden by paying for their home office set up. This can include covering the cost of a new desk, chair, monitor, or whatever else they need to work comfortably from home. 

Financial benefits 

Even if you can’t directly provide a pay rise, there are other ways to financially support your employees – while staying within your HR budget. Below are a few ideas of the types of financial benefits you can offer: 

  • Employee discounts. At Flare, we have an exclusive benefits and discount platform. that provides your employees with discounts from hundreds of leading retailers, including Amazon, Woolworths, and Foot Locker. Giving your workforce access to these types of benefits can ease some of the financial burden they’re feeling right now. 
  • Novated car leasing. Offering employee benefits like novated car leases and salary packaging can help your employees reduce their taxable income and therefore reduce their income tax. Flare offers novated car leasing to customers as part of employee benefits.
  • Real time pay. Imagine if employees could access their pay after each day’s work rather than waiting for the weekly, fortnightly or monthly pay cycle? This could soon be a possibility. Flare will soon be offering real time pay as part of employee benefits so that employees can access their pay for a small fixed fee for when they really need it.
  • Equity. If you can’t afford to increase the salary of your employees, consider giving them more equity instead. This is an investment that can pay off many times over in the long run, and it gives workers more stake in your organisation – which, in turn, can boost morale and engagement. 
  • International payment transfers. You may have employees with family members outside of Australia that they’re providing financial support to during COVID-19. If you want to help them save on expensive transfers, consider offering WorldRemit as a benefit – they offer much more affordable international money transfers. They’re also a partner on our own benefits platform!

Physical and mental health benefits 

Your employees are dealing with many stressors right now – from feeling anxiety around their job security to worrying about the health and safety of their family members – which can come with negative physical and mental health side effects. To help them combat these potential problems, you may want to consider the following benefits: 

  • Wellness budget. If you have the funds to do so, consider giving each employee a wellness budget. They can use this money to invest in self care. For example, they can use this budget to cover the cost of a massage, new running shoes, or an online meditation course – anything that helps improve and maintain their sense of well being. 
  • Fitness subsidisation. Staying active can go a long way. And the great news is that there are tons of virtual fitness classes these days. So whether it’s an online yoga course or a cycling class, pay for your employees to indulge in their favorite exercise routines – it gives them one less thing to worry about cost wise and encourages them to get moving. 
  • Healthy snack delivery service. If you want to make healthy eating more accessible for your employees and boost their morale, provide them with delicious snacking options! Companies like Snacks With Bite will deliver healthy snacks directly to your employees’ homes. It’s one less decision they have to make, and it’s something they can share with the rest of their family. 

Family benefits 

As schools start to close down again due to the new wave of outbreaks, parents are scrambling to figure out how to balance work and family life for the second time. Not receiving the pay rise they were expecting can further exacerbate your employees’ stress levels. To help, here are a few benefits you can offer: 

  • Childcare support. If your working parents do find themselves back at home with the kids, give them the funds to hire additional childcare support. Maybe they can have a trusted babysitter take care of the kids in the morning, when they’re the busiest with work. Or they can hire an in-home chef to prepare healthy meals for the family if they don’t have time to.
  • Fun family activities. It’s challenging for parents to always think of new, stimulating things to do with their children. To help, send your working parents “family care packages” that contain fun activities – such as puzzles, at-home scavenger hunts, or s’mores kits. This is one less thing that your employees have to think about and gives them a reason to spend quality time with their families. 

Even though your employees will be disappointed to not receive the pay rise they’ve been waiting for, they’ll appreciate your efforts to compensate them in other ways in the meantime. Take care of your employees’ needs during this challenging time, and you’re likely to see a more engaged and productive workforce.

Want to give your team access to more employee benefits and discounts? Flare Employee Benefits gives your workforce access to an exclusive benefits and discount platform of leading retailers like Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi and Amazon. If you’re looking to implement more employees benefits in your company, reach out to [email protected] to learn more.

Understanding the finances of your international workforce

For Australian employers there are many considerations to be taken into account when employing people from overseas. One that may not be so obvious is understanding the financial circumstances of these employees with international backgrounds.

For example, did you know that many international employees may have loved ones living overseas with a financial responsibility to regularly send a proportion of their earnings back home? This financial assistance, known as ‘remittances’ supports their loved ones with daily living expenses like paying for rent, utilities, groceries, health and education.

This following article outlines some of these considerations and the role you can play as an employer to support your employees.

Global Remittances

Remittances are an essential source of income for millions of families around the world and remitters play a key role in the social and economic development of their countries.

In 2019, global remittances reached a record US$554 billion and they are instrumental in many countries. For example, personal remittances received in Nepal made up over a quarter of the country’s GDP in 2019. In the Philippines, it is a well-established cultural practice to head overseas to work. In fact, 2.2 million, at any time, of these overseas Filipino workers are engaged in industries as diverse as healthcare to seafaring. From Australia, both India and China are also substantial recipients of remittances. Many remitters will see their remittance as a non-negotiable financial commitment, in the same vein as Australians might regard their mortgage payment. Behaviour varies, but many remitters will send money home as many as four times a month. 

Financial Access

Like all employees, migrants working in Australia require an Australian bank account to receive their salary. Fortunately, unlike other countries, it is very easy to set up, with the ability to apply for one online regardless of location, with many free or low-cost options. 

However, for recent arrivals to Australia, applying for credit cards is not as simple. Banks will usually require some credit history here in Australia before granting even a small credit limit. This can place a credit card off limits for new arrivals, which can be a source of frustration for migrants who have enjoyed well established financial affairs in their original home country.

Tax and Super

The rules relating to taxation and superannuation are complex, and vary according to the individual circumstances of your employees. 

In general, many people from overseas who have worked and earned super while visiting Australia on a temporary visa, can apply to have their super paid to them as a departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) after they leave.

On tax, as long as foreign residents have earned more than $1 in Australia during the financial year they can choose to lodge a tax return. This lodgement can even be done online in your employees’ home countries after they depart. If your employees are leaving Australia permanently, they may be eligible to lodge an Australian tax return early. In this instance the process is offline and is known to  take longer.

The monies received from a superannuation payment or a tax refund, regardless of amount, is highly valued as an extra boost of financial support for when your international employees are returning to their home country.

What can you do as an employer

Understanding the unique financial considerations of your international and migrant workforce is a great first step, but there are also a few practical ways you can help:

  • Sending money home: For remitters, maximising the amount their friends and family receive whilst ensuring the security of the transfers is paramount. Due to lack of awareness, many new arrivals will default to using their bank to transfer money home. However, the Australian Government (in the ACCC’s 2019 report) expressly highlighted that using digital non-bank alternatives, such as WorldRemit, can be a cheaper and faster way to send money home. Also, for employees who are working in remote locations, the fact that these services are fully digital means they can be accessed from a smartphone at any time (without having to visit a bank branch or agent location). Helping make your employees aware of these alternatives, can ensure their families and friends are receiving the greatest amount possible by way of remittances without delay.
  • Financial access: As employees establish themselves in Australia, you may find they come to you more frequently than others for proof of income or employment, as they navigate the likes of housing and credit applications. Bear in mind your company expenses policy, where they require employees to front large expenses before being reimbursed, may be unduly burdensome (or not possible) for new arrivals who don’t have a credit card.
  • Tax and Super: Each individual is different so the best thing you can do is direct your employees to the ATO website, which has extensive resources relating to international tax and access to superannuation. The ATO guidance suggests that employees check with their employer before they depart to make sure that all super contributions have been paid – so don’t be surprised if you receive these sorts of queries from your team.

WorldRemit is currently offering the first three transfers free to all Flare users. You can access WorldRemit through the Flare employee benefits portal.

Simple strategies to promote emotional wellbeing in your workplace

We live in an increasingly stressful world. Everything from rising costs to escalating pressures in the workplace are contributing to mental health issues in our employees. Given this, prioritising emotional wellbeing is more important than ever. But what exactly is preventing our workers from achieving emotional wellness, and what can we do to help? These are questions we’ll address in the rest of this post. 

Why is emotional wellbeing important? 

As of 2019, 50.6% of the Australian workforce had experienced a mental health condition, and two in five of those workers reported that their workplace either caused their condition or made it worse. These work-related mental health conditions cost approximately $543 million of workers compensation and $750 million in life insurance claims paid to Australians each year.

It’s clear that emotional wellbeing, or lack thereof, is a huge problem that infiltrates the workplace. There are a few reasons why it’s important for employers to address this problem head on: first, since one of the main sources of stress is from work, it’s every company’s responsibility to help alleviate some of that burden. Secondly, without addressing emotional wellbeing, we can’t expect our employees to perform their best at work. Mental health issues can affect everything from an employee’s satisfaction with their job to the bottom line. 

Related article: 5 Ways to help your employees improve their financial wellbeing

Barriers to emotional wellbeing 

It seems as though more and more employers are investing in emotional wellbeing programs each year. But if this is the case, why do mental health issues continue to be a problem among Australian workers? It may be that the programs aren’t explicitly addressing the most common barriers to emotional wellbeing, which include: 

  • Lack of education and training. A survey found the most common barrier to achieving an emotionally healthy workplace is lack of appropriate skills in managers. Therefore, investing in more training and education around mental health and wellbeing can help break down this particular barrier. 
  • Fear of stigma. Even though the conversation around emotional wellbeing is becoming more commonplace, that doesn’t mean the stigma around mental health issues doesn’t exist. In fact, research has found that mental health is the issue Australian workers feel most uncomfortable discussing with their managers.
  • Access to the wrong resources. Finally, it may also be the case that you’re not offering the resources that employees actually need to improve their emotional wellbeing. Unless your decisions were backed by feedback and data from your workforce, there’s a good chance that your employee wellness program isn’t aligned with people’s mental health priorities.  

In the next section, we’ll cover simple strategies that will help your organisation overcome these common barriers. 

Related article: 10 Ideas to help you boost your employee engagement

3 simple strategies to promote emotional wellbeing at your company

Your emotional wellbeing strategies don’t have to be complicated or break the bank. Start off with one or all three of these strategies to start taking steps in the right direction:

1. Make mental health trainings a requirement

Sometimes mental health can be tough or uncomfortable to talk about. That’s completely natural. But that’s why we encourage HR teams to invest in mental health training – not just for employees, but also for the managers and leaders at the company as well.

These educational opportunities can give everyone the practice they need to navigate conversations about emotional wellbeing, respond with more empathy to people who are struggling, and understand what next steps might look like. While you don’t want your managers to play the role of therapist for your employees, they should – at the very least – know how to handle those initial conversations and connect their direct reports to the right resources. 

2. Normalise conversations around emotional wellbeing

It’s unsurprising that Australian employees don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health at work. This usually stems from a fear of judgment or – worse – a fear that it’ll affect their career development. The best way to assuage these fears is to normalise conversations around mental health in the workplace so that your employees know this is a challenge that almost everyone is dealing with. 

Don’t just wait for Mental Health Month to have these conversations – instead, make it a normal and accepted part of your company culture. There are several ways to accomplish this: ask your leaders and managers to speak openly about their own mental health struggles; create safe spaces or Employee Resource Groups where people can speak openly about emotional wellbeing; and make it ok to take mental health days.

3. Customize your benefits offerings

This may also be a good time to revisit your benefits offerings. Even if you have an incredible benefits package that gives employees stipends for massages or virtual therapy sessions, that doesn’t mean it’s what your workforce needs. Maybe it turns out that they’d rather have flexible working hours and more mental health days instead. 

The only way to find out what your employees truly need is to ask them. You can do this through one-on-one conversations or, if you have a bigger organisation, send out a wellbeing survey to identify the current gaps in your benefits. Once you have this information in hand, you can actually customise your offerings to align with your employees’ priorities.

Don’t overlook emotional wellbeing when it comes to your overall HR strategy. The mental health of your employees has the potential to make a huge impact on their happiness, productivity, and desire to stay with your organisation. Use our strategies to demonstrate that you care and to promote the importance of emotional wellbeing in your workplace. 

If you have any employees who are in need of support, be sure to check out The Flare Wellness Network, a free hub designed to support Australian workers by giving them access to benefits and offers, while encouraging businesses to partner together in an effort to support the wellbeing of the Australian workforce.

If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

Managing COVID in the hospitality industry with Shaun McDonald from Lucas Group

Lucas Group has six restaurants across Sydney and Melbourne including Chin Chin, Kisumé, Gogo Bar, Baby Pizza and more. Their aim is to provide exceptional dining experiences which redefine the boundaries of expectations and excite the senses. In this interview, we chat to Shaun McDonald, the General Manager of People and Development, about how Lucas Group have been managing COVID in the hospitality industry.

Tell us about the impact of the pandemic on LUCAS Group

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant industry, including LUCAS Group, was required to close as non-essential services. The impact on our business resulted in us having to stand down 650 people during that time, and changing our business operations. 

Our main priority was around our people. Every decision we made was about putting our people first, communicating regularly, and executing on a strategy that supported our people as much as possible throughout the pandemic.

We shifted to ‘takeaway’ business operations within 48 hours and reopened our brand — something that we’ve never done before. The sole reason for this shift was to support those people that would not be eligible for financial assistance from the government. 30 percent of our crew are from overseas. 

The Job Keeper Program was introduced by the government a few weeks later, which was great for our people. It was another mechanism for us to support our crew. We applied immediately, and were able to support our stood down crew.

How did you manage communications with your staff? 

Strong communication was critical for us during this time. We focused on crafting messaging that was concise and clear, and enabled managers to share messages aligned to our CEO’s direction. Managers were provided tools and training, so they could communicate with their people.

At every level of our organisation, we ensured people understood the new direction, that they knew what to do in their roles, were trained up effectively and ready to fight. We needed to ensure our systems and processes were set up to effectively deliver the same quality in house in a takeaway model. 

Training was so crucial to helping people understand what to do, as their roles changed — and to deliver exceptional service to our guests and bring that level of comfort.

What are your return to work strategies and plans? 

As we transition our business from being a takeaway back into a restaurant, there are a few safety precautions we needed to make to our workplace so our crew felt comfortable to return to work. At the beginning, things were changing on a daily basis, constant updates, changes to legislation and changes to the job so we needed to keep up to date.

When we reopened we wanted to make sure that, we had done everything as a business to make sure that our people were safe, and explained to them that we were meeting social distancing guidelines and being compliant.

We also educated our managers to make sure that the messaging was the same. This brought a level of comfort to our crew. We’ve actually received a lot of positive feedback about the level of communications that came out of the clear and the concise messaging that was distributed.

We had to go through lots of planning to ensure which employees we would stand up and planning how we would layout our restaurant to adhere to social distancing restrictions. If any of our staff had reservations about coming back to a guest facing role, we put some of them into back of house roles so they would be more comfortable. We made sure that we communicated to our staff so that they knew we were running our venues safely and we were adhering to all the requirements set by the government.

How do you ensure that your employees are engaged and feel safe after returning to work?

Pulse surveys have been a great for us to ensure that people are comfortable with being back in the work environment. We’ve been able to get feedback and jump on any changes that we possibly need to make to make sure that people feel safe and they feel comfortable at work.

Related article: 10 Ideas to help you boost your employee engagement

Learn more about how Shaun McDonald used Flare to engage with employees through digital onboarding and benefits in this case study. If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

Why providing financial literacy for employees is important

Everyone is familiar with the concept of literacy, which refers to one’s ability to read and write. It’s a skill that clearly has a huge impact on everyday life. But what people might be less familiar with is the idea of financial literacy, which is having the knowledge to make informed decisions about one’s financial situation – from budgeting to investing to saving. 

Unfortunately, Australians have long struggled with financial literacy. A study found that only 50% of men and 35% of women were able to answer five basic financial questions correctly. The good news: there’s an opportunity for employers to step up and help improve the financial literacy of their employees. We explore how in this blog post. 

The importance of financial literacy 

Before we dive in, it’s important to establish why financial literacy is such a critical skill to invest in. The short answer is that financial literacy leads to better financial health. And there’s a lot of research to support the fact that poor financial health creates many problems for employees – from health problems to anxiety, which eventually leads in lost revenue for companies.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the statistics:

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that improving the financial literacy of employees should be a top priority for organisations.

Barriers to financial literacy in Australia 

So what exactly is it that’s preventing people from being financially literate? We can generally attribute low financial literacy to a lack of access in three categories:

1. Education. By far the biggest barrier to financial literacy is a lack of access to financial education. To have the confidence to make smart financial decisions, one first has to be equipped with the knowledge to do so. Unfortunately, financial topics aren’t built into our education system, which means that many people reach adulthood without an understanding of how to manage their money or save for long-term milestones. 

2. Tools. To improve financial literacy, it’s not enough to simply memorise information. That knowledge needs to be put into action. But employees may find themselves feeling overwhelmed or require some assistance to get started. That’s where access to financial tools – which can serve as the bridge that helps people go from having knowledge to taking action – may be useful.

3. Professional support. Finally, it’s important to recognise that financial topics are inherently complex – which is a large part of what makes financial literacy so difficult to achieve. This means that almost everyone could benefit from receiving professional support to help answer questions and guide their decisions. 

In the next section, we’ll share a few recommendations to help lower the barriers to entry when it comes to these three categories. 

How to help your employees build financial literacy 

When it comes to your own employees, there are many ways you can improve their financial literacy. This will, in turn, help their sense of financial wellbeing and lead to decreased stress, boosted productivity, and less revenue lost for your organisation. 

Related article: 5 Ways to help your employees improve their financial wellbeing

Education

To increase access to education, consider offering financial wellness benefits that provide employees with the space to learn more about relevant topics. This can come in the form of online courses, in-person trainings, or even printed materials that your HR team puts together. The most important part is to make sure these educational resources are accessible to your entire employee population. Here’s how:

  • Raise awareness. If employees aren’t aware that these educational resources exist, then they won’t use them. Throughout the year, send out reminders to employees – whether it’s through email, Slack, or in-person announcements – that make them aware these benefits are available to them.
  • Offer various formats. Not everyone enjoys learning through an online course. Similarly, some people don’t enjoy reading through printed materials. So where possible, try to offer a variety of educational formats to match the specific needs of your employees. Better yet, consider using a survey to make data-driven decisions. 

Tools 

As we mentioned before, tools are a great way to encourage employees to take action on the financial knowledge they acquire. There are many types of financial tools you can offer your employees, such as real-time payments or budgeting apps to make money management easier. The tricky part, of course, is getting employees to actually use the tools you offer. Here are a few tips to improve adoption:

  • Create incentives. Consider building in incentives for employees to use the financial tools that are available to them. For example, perhaps you can “gamify” the budgeting app so that every time an employee uses it, they collect points and can eventually win a prize of their choosing. Or you can incentivise more superannuation contributions by “matching” however much they add to their accounts, up to a certain amount.
  • Make it social. Believe it or not, there are ways to make finances fun for your employees. One way is to make using financial tools a social experience. Create a financial health support group, which employees can voluntarily join to talk about their favorite tools or their personal finance goals. Or, with permission, share employee testimonials on the intranet or at the next all-hands meeting about how much they’ve benefited from using the financial tools provided to them. This may inspire others to adopt those same tools!

Professional support 

You can also offer professional services, such as financial advising or counseling, as part of your financial wellness benefits. You, as an HR leader, can also offer up your expertise on topics like salaries and retirement savings. Having access to an expert who can answer questions or explain tricky concepts is an effective way to improve an employee’s financial literacy. Of course, talking about money to you or a professional may feel uncomfortable for employees. To help, we have some recommendations: 

  • Normalise the conversation. Make finances a normal conversation to have in the workplace. To encourage this mindset: train your managers to openly answer questions about salaries; Host lunch and learn about financial topics; And encourage support groups where employees can discuss finances in a safe space. 
  • Have company leaders set an example. One of the best ways to encourage employees to have more conversations about finances is to have your company leaders set an example. For instance, have your CEO share that he or she also uses the company’s financial counseling resource. Seeing someone in a leadership position get help with their own financial situation may inspire others to do the same. 

Financial literacy is so critical in determining the overall success, wellbeing, and productivity of your employees. As an organisation, you have the opportunity to unlock financial resources that they might not have access to otherwise. Start with one or two of our recommendations to help improve your employees’ financial wellbeing. 

If you have any employees who are in need of support, be sure to check out Wellness@Work, a free hub designed to support HR and Australian workers by giving them access to free content.

Related article: 10 Ideas to help you boost your employee engagement

If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

10 appealing employee benefits companies should consider

Employers understand that they play a huge role when it comes to helping their employees succeed both in and out of the workplace. But you may be wondering: how do we support every individual’s needs when we have a rapidly growing organisation? The answer lies in employee benefits.

Employee benefits are additional forms of compensation that are provided to employees in addition to their salaries. They’re a great way to address the needs of your workers and can easily be scaled. To ensure that you’re only investing in the most impactful offerings, we put together a list of 10 employee benefits that we believe will have the most positive effect on your workforce.

Why are employee benefits important? 

The average employee spends one-third of his or her life at work. Given this, workers have very limited time to tend to other aspects of their life – whether that’s family, personal passions, or health. By offering a variety of benefits, employers can make this balancing act a bit easier for their employees by providing them with the resources, tools, or opportunities needed to take care of their personal and professional needs. 

There are business advantages to offering employee benefits as well. These types of offerings have been proven to improve company culture, boost productivity, and increase retention rates – all of which can lead to significant cost savings for your organisation. 

Below, we share 10 types of employee benefits to consider.

Mental health

The unfortunate reality is that we’re living in an increasingly stressful world. This is reflected by the fact that more than half (55%) of Australian employees feel stressed at work. One of the most effective ways to help employees manage this stress is to offer mental health benefits. These can come in the form of tools and resources to help your employees relax, work through their problems, and build resilience. 

Examples of mental health benefits:

  • Online therapy or counselling services
  • Meditation or mindfulness apps 
  • Paid time off for mental health days 

Related article: 10 Ideas to help you boost your employee engagement

Physical health

Physical health is an extremely important component of employee wellness as well. Whether it’s helping your employees stay active or better manage any illnesses they’re dealing with, benefits that improve physical health can make a huge difference to your workforce. 

Examples of physical health benefits: 

  • Flexible wellness budgets
  • Subsidised gym memberships
  • Annual health screenings 
  • Chronic disease management or smoking cessation programs

Family 

Juggling the demands of both work and family is challenging. To ease some of the burden, employers can offer benefits that either financially support family-specific needs or make the integration between home life and the office a bit more seamless. 

Examples of family benefits: 

  • Flexible childcare spending accounts
  • Adoption, surrogacy, or in vitro fertilisation support 
  • Daycare center at the office 
  • Monthly family-friendly work events

Commuter 

As businesses start to re-open after COVID-19, we’re likely to see an uptick in commuting. Getting to and from work can easily be one of the most stressful parts of an employee’s day, as they battle terrible traffic or sit on the bus for long periods of time, just to get to their 9 a.m. meeting on time. Fortunately, there are commuter benefits you can offer to minimise the impact.

Examples of commuter benefits: 

  • Subsidised public transportation passes
  • Employee parking spots 
  • Flexible schedules that allow employees to commute during off-hours

Financial well-being

Two out of five Australian workers experience financial stress during their careers. This makes it clear why financial wellness benefits are becoming an increasingly important part of wellness programs for many organisations. Offering benefits to boost the financial health of your employees can help reduce anxiety and help them reach long-term goals like buying a home or starting a family.

Examples of financial well-being benefits: 

  • Financial counseling 
  • Real-time payments
  • Financial education courses 
  • Additional superannuation contributions

Related article: 5 Ways to help your employees improve their financial wellbeing

Professional development

A study found that one of the ‘must have’ benefits that Australian employees expect to receive is training and development on the job. To keep people feeling fulfilled and engaged at work, you have to provide them with opportunities to grow – not only professionally, but personally as well. Benefits are a great way to encourage this type of development. 

Examples of professional development benefits: 

  • Learning and development budget
  • Monthly training opportunities 
  • Coaching or mentoring programs

Flexible work

One of the other ‘must have’ benefits for Australian employees is flexible work arrangements. Increasingly, people are looking for the ability to choose when and where they work. That’s why companies that offer flexible work benefits, such as accommodating remote working options, are likely to attract and retain top talent. 

Examples of flexible work: 

  • Work from home days
  • At-home office budget 
  • Flexibility to set a personal schedule

Pets  

Did you know that 62% of Australian households own a pet? Your employees likely view their dogs and cats as part of the family. This can make it stressful for workers to leave their pets at home all day or deal with a sick animal. Offering pet-focused benefits that relieve some of the financial burdens or allow pets to be in the office with their humans can have a positive impact on your employees. 

Examples of pet-friendly benefits: 

  • Pet-friendly office
  • Subsidised pet care
  • Paid time off to take care of a new pet 

Recognition 

Introducing benefits that are focused on recognizing the hard work of your employees can be a powerful way to keep them feeling motivated and appreciated. There are many types of recognition programs you can introduce to your organisation. 

Examples of recognition benefits: 

  • Experiential recognition program
  • Peer-to-peer recognition program 
  • Company value awards 

Social 

Having the opportunity to connect with other teammates can be hugely beneficial to employees. Not only does it encourage collaboration, but it ensures that people know they have a community to turn to. There are several socially-focused benefits you can offer to encourage these bonding moments at work.

Examples of social benefits: 

  • Monthly team outings
  • Budget for coffee dates or lunches with colleagues
  • Company-wide gatherings or events

Want to give your team access to more employee benefits and discounts? Flare Employee Benefits gives your workforce access to an exclusive benefits and discount platform of leading retailers like Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi and Amazon. Check it out here

Lauren Dick from Relier Group on how to train employees and build high-performance teams

We interviewed Lauren Dick, the founder and director of Relier Group. Lauren has over 10 years of experience working for Australian owned retail brands such as Kookai, Aje and Tigerlily. In her experience working as a national training and development manager for Tigerlily and a National Retail Manager at Aje, she was responsible for coaching and developing hundreds of individual sales associates all across Australia.

She has now launched her own business, Relier Group, which is a HR consultancy business with the goal of making enterprise training and recruitment accessible for all businesses. Lauren uses her skills to build bespoke training programs and talent acquisition programs which help her clients build high performance teams who achieve consistent business results.

What are the company values of Relier Group and how do you uphold these values?

Relier is a french word with an English translation which means to connect. Connection is my founding value and my two other values are community and communication. My goal is to help businesses connect with their staff so that they can generate customer loyalty, client loyalty, and employee engagement. The communication value is based on open, honest, transparent and kind communication.

The reason I started Relier is because not all companies can afford to have an in house training manager or an in house HR support, so I started Relier so that no business would have to miss out on the benefits that HR can establish between an employee and the business.

What are some things you’ve learned by working in HR?

One of the biggest things I’ve learned by working in HR is to get feedback from the staff who are customer-facing because they tend to understand the customer best. Some businesses make the mistake of making assumptions about what their customer wants when they are quite removed from their customers. A better strategy is to ask their customer-facing staff for feedback.

Another important lesson I’ve learned is to coach your team to make decisions for themselves. I’ve worked in roles where I would have 300 people reporting to me, so it would be impossible to dictate every decision everyone makes. Instead, I learned to coach my team into being autonomous.  By asking them the right questions which are thought-provoking and solution-focused. In the long term being able to coach people into making the right decisions instead of telling them what to do will mean you will develop a team of amazing leaders that are ready to take on new challenges.

Where do you go to learn?

I think that the best way to learn is to look at what other companies are doing well, what they’re not doing well, and then developing an innovative strategy based on that. I would probably say a lot of my learning is self driven and is about understanding the competitive climate.

How do you ensure that a new hire is a good fit for your clients?

In my experience with recruiting for large companies for several years, what I’ve learned is that the culture first approach gets the best outcome in the end. The culture first approach means that you hire people based on cultural fit first, rather than their technical skill. The reason why I use this approach is because I believe that the best outcomes don’t always come from the people who have the best technical skill. Culture fit is especially important in a client and customer facing role, because the employees are representing the brand to customers and clients in everything they do. In my experience, a culture fit is always more important than a skill fit because skill fit is easier to find.

What tips would you give someone who’s just starting out in HR?

In any HR role, you have to start by really mastering leadership and mastering people management. Theory can only teach you so much it really comes down to getting practical experience in leadership and management roles. In these roles you will be able to learn how to manage different personalities, learn how to be an effective communicator and how to take on feedback to give feedback.

Education comes next when you’re at the point where you do want to step into a generalist role or a HR specific role. However, experience comes first because it’s hard to give advice when you haven’t been in the situation yourself. That’s why it’s important to pick your field, get experience, lead people, become an amazing leader and then go from there.

What are some of the best things that you’ve learned about leadership?

I think good leadership starts with communication. One of the best things I’ve learned is how to communicate effectively and drive learning for different personality types. Learning that different people have different needs has been really beneficial for me.

I’ve learnt to tailor my communication based on the needs and innate motivations of each individual team member and this has certainly been fundamental to my success. For example, I consider who in my network is an intuitive leader, who is driven by analytics, who is driven by individual success, who is more driven by shared team successes and so on. This then determines how I lead, coach and personalise their training to optimise outcomes. Communicating differently with each personality type is a skill I’ve learnt through retail training courses and consistent applied practice throughout my entire career.

How do you lead, coach and strategise with clients to achieve great retention rates for them?

It depends on what service they need, whether it be hiring and performance advice or developing customer service models.

My approach is to collaborate with the entire team, get to know the customer and develop a model which is customised for them. This helps to improve the retention rates and get better results on the shop floor.

Adjusting the focus and roles of the team to ensure that the right people are in the right roles is also important. For example, moving team members to focus on KPIs or moving them from a KPIs focus to a networking focus. This process ensures that my clients can retain talent and save on costs associated with having to hire or train new employees.

How do you ensure that new hires of your clients have a great experience?

I work on the onboarding process for my clients as a first step. An example which comes to mind is when I developed a digital onboarding experience using Flare for one of my clients. This client was a holiday and travel business, so I developed an onboarding process which was aligned to their values. In this onboarding process, it would take new starters on a digital journey which was really unique to the client’s business. I believe that a new starter’s onboarding experience sets the tone for what they can expect on their first days at work.

Are there any final words you’d like to share with our audience?

The best thing you can do is communicate regularly with your team and lead with kindness. This can help you ensure that you are staying productive and working towards your goals.

Some businesses are afraid to share results with their team, however I believe that it’s important to educate your team on the results, why they’re important and how they can impact the business in a positive way. Showing your team that they are important and they can make an impact is my biggest tip.