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 By Kelley Morse, VP, Talent & Business Partnering, Bullhorn

The coronavirus pandemic has proven that working in an office isn’t necessary for businesses to succeed. As former office workers have discovered, working from home provides greater freedom and flexibility in a variety of ways, making it easier to balance work with life.

Candidates, now accustomed to working remotely, are searching for jobs with generous working from home policies. Businesses that offer flexible working arrangements will have their pick of candidates, while those that are more old-fashioned risk turning prospects away.

However, the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there is trepidation among decision-makers as we ease cautiously into a “new normal.” Many are still determining the ideal working from home policy for their business.

Do candidates make decisions based on remote work policies?

Working from home is a benefit, and while it may not make or break a candidate’s decision to work for a specific business, it does factor into the equation. For one, remote work policies act as a differentiator: between two otherwise equal companies, candidates tend to prefer the one that offers more ways of working.

Surveys (under non-pandemic conditions) have shown that people place a high value on non-monetary benefits, such as flexible working, that affect their quality of life. Some data even suggest that these benefits may be more of a factor than salary.

Fundamentally, the benefits that employees care most about are those that affect their wellbeing. A reasonable attitude toward working from home – as opposed to an iron-fisted demand that all workers are in the office every day of the week – is indicative to candidates that the business has a healthy and understanding culture.

Advertising a company’s culture 

It can be challenging to convey a business’s culture to a prospective employee. Still, besides witnessing happy workers going about their day, few things are as impactful as the company policies. They reflect the company’s values and offer prospective hires a window into what life may be like if they take the job.

Flexibility and respect for work-life balance are desirable traits in an employer, and a robust working from home policy is one way of signalling those aspects to prospective employees. Similarly, businesses should feel proud of the steps they took to support their employees during the pandemic. They can share these with prospects as another way of demonstrating their culture.

Promotional materials for a job should, of course, mention the expectations and responsibilities, but they should also include a brief explanation of the remote policy. Rather than simply saying that the role is “remote-friendly,” businesses should spend a few words to explain the rationale for why the position is remote or office-based and, in the case of hybrid working, provide some expectation of the balance between the two.

Employees want benefits that support their wellbeing

Every business has a unique culture and set of employee requirements, so there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all home working policy. However, every business should be guided by the principles of respecting employees’ time, maximising flexibility and differentiating effective work from hours at a desk.

The pandemic has taken a toll on our collective mental health, and staff are now keen for their employers to show an awareness of their wellbeing. Perks like counselling and measures like mental health days are increasingly in demand, alongside a preference for working from home some of the time.

More than the “free fizzy drinks” or “bean bag chairs in the office” perks that were popular in the 2000s and 2010s, employees now want benefits that support their wellbeing. The pandemic has reminded all of us of what is most important. Employees are now more likely to seek subsidised gym memberships, robust mental health policies and cycle-to-work schemes than flashy but ultimately meaningless perks like snacks in the break room.

Candidates are clear on what they want – businesses need to listen

The way we work is changing, and the way we recruit talent needs to change with it. Prospective employees want to work for a company that appreciates the work they put in and respects their boundaries. Especially following the experiences of the Covid pandemic, “work-life balance” isn’t just a buzzword; it needs to be at the front of mind as businesses create their post-pandemic policies. Only then will they have the best choice of candidates.

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