Northern Ireland employers consider incentives to attract staff back to the office

Hybrid work mode during pandemic.
Hybrid work mode during pandemic.

A THIRD of employers in Northern Ireland say they are planning to change their hybrid working offering this year and will ask staff to come into the office more frequently.

That's according to recruiter Hays’ annual What Workers Want survey, which received 382 from Northern Ireland.

It found that 69 per cent of the Northern Ireland-based employers surveyed offered hybrid working to staff.

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

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

Of the employers polled, 28 per cent said they expect their hybrid offering to change this year, with 12 per cent saying they are already offering incentives to encourage staff back to the office and a further 13 per cent 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 per cent)

Bike storage and showers (50 per cent)

Onsite café and free drinks (42 per cent)

Paid or subsidised access to gym facilities (33 per cent)

Social events (33 per cent)

Paid or subsidised travel (25 per cent)

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

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

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

John Moore, managing director of Hays 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 per cent of organisations said they have implemented no meetings during lunch or certain hours of the day, 15 per cent say they have put in place a limit on the duration of meetings, and 9 per cent have implemented meeting free days.

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