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New Fringe Survey: COVID-19 Puts Spotlight on Lifestyle Benefits

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Six months into shel­ter-in-place, there’s no doubt that our new WFH nor­mal is mak­ing employ­ers reeval­u­ate their ben­e­fits offer­ings — espe­cial­ly when 76% of employ­ees want to con­tin­ue work­ing from home for the fore­see­able future (Glob­al Work­place Ana­lyt­ics). This is large­ly dri­ven by demand from employ­ees for more flex­i­ble and mean­ing­ful ben­e­fits as they nav­i­gate dif­fi­cul­ties adjust­ing to home office envi­ron­ments, jug­gling child­care and vir­tu­al instruc­tion with work, and more. In the absence of in-office perks and ameni­ties, employ­ees are increas­ing­ly demand­ing a new type of perk — one that ful­fills imme­di­ate, day-to-day needs as the mass­es buck­le down from home.

We recent­ly con­duct­ed a sur­vey of 700 full-time employ­ees to bet­ter under­stand the shift­ing atti­tudes towards employ­ee ben­e­fits and perks. The biggest finding?

Employees (95% of whom are still working from home) want benefits that support their current lifestyle — what we at Fringe call ​“lifestyle benefits.” Alarmingly, not all employers are meeting this demand.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the key findings:

  • Atti­tudes are shift­ing: While the major­i­ty of employ­ees miss in-office perks (83%), 80% admit that the WFH sit­u­a­tion has changed the way they look at benefits.
  • Lifestyle ben­e­fits are the best replace­ment for perks of the past: While many top employ­ers have offered stipends to sup­port a suit­able home office envi­ron­ment, what employ­ees real­ly want are ben­e­fits that impact their day-to-day.
  • More than half of employ­ees indi­cate that they pre­fer perks and ben­e­fits that sup­port their lifestyle instead of sup­port in set­ting up or sus­tain­ing a home office.
  • More­over, 84% of employ­ees believe that lifestyle ben­e­fits will be more valu­able in a post-COVID world than in-office perks and amenities.
  • Not all employ­ers are respond­ing in mean­ing­ful ways: Less than half of employ­ees indi­cate that their employ­er has stepped up to pro­vide addi­tion­al ben­e­fits or sup­port dur­ing COVID-19.

Fringe as your pandemic perk companion

Even before the pan­dem­ic upend­ed our lives, our goal with start­ing Fringe was to con­nect employ­ees to ben­e­fits and ser­vices that meet cur­rent needs and make an imme­di­ate impact on their day-to-day life. Less than a year ago, we nev­er could have pre­dict­ed how impor­tant or per­va­sive this new cat­e­go­ry of ​“lifestyle ben­e­fits” would become. Over­all, we’ve seen a 22.5x increase in users since March 1st; the major­i­ty of employ­ees (92%) sur­veyed are active­ly using Fringe cur­rent­ly, and in fact 32% say they’re using it more since March 1st.

The response from Fringe users demonstrates the value Fringe is bringing to employees this year:

  • Fringe is a good replace­ment for perks of the past: 85% of employ­ees see Fringe as a ​“good replace­ment for in-office perks and amenities”.
  • Users enjoy the flex­i­bil­i­ty that Fringe pro­vides: 73% of employ­ees have changed the types of ser­vices they select on Fringe through the pan­dem­ic; Rough­ly 73% of employ­ees have indi­cat­ed their selec­tions on Fringe have shift­ed dur­ing COVID-19.
  • Fringe is a viable solu­tion to WFH chal­lenges: The major­i­ty (70%) of employ­ees feel Fringe ben­e­fits are meet­ing their needs and chal­lenges relat­ed to work­ing from home.

Some­times, it takes a cri­sis for new modes of think­ing and new ways of doing things to stick. If there’s any sil­ver lin­ing to COVID-19 with respect to the work­place, it’s that lifestyle ben­e­fits have been giv­en a plat­form to influ­ence the next 30+ years of employ­ee ben­e­fits — even when offices begin to repop­u­late and the WFH Era of 2020 becomes noth­ing more than a dis­tant mem­o­ry. How employ­ers respond in this moment will ulti­mate­ly inform their abil­i­ty to keep employ­ees hap­py for years to come.

In an effort to stay informed on employ­ee needs and atti­tudes, we’ll be con­duct­ing more sur­veys over the com­ing months. Stay tuned for more insights!

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