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Forget nap pods and ping pong tables, WFH allowances and wellbeing support are 2021’s top work perks, according to new research from job search engine Adzuna.

With tight recruitment budgets leading to widespread pay freezes and even ‘firing and rehiring’ at some workplaces, 2021’s new work perks are one of the most cost-effective ways to tempt new staff – without breaking the bank.

The study analysed over 750,000 open roles featured on Adzuna in February 2021, to highlight some of the more unusual perks currently being advertised.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in perks like nap rooms, free food and on-site medical care. But 2021’s top work perks instead cater to the growing number of remote workers not able to access an office. 

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “Offering great work perks can help employers tempt top talent, without costing the earth. Over the last year we’ve seen the emphasis shift from office perks like nap pods to a more holistic focus on mental health and wellbeing. Companies are offering greater support to help their employees work effectively from home, be that ergonomic office equipment, meditation apps, or virtual exercise classes. Some Silicon Valley companies are even starting to offer back-up childcare to help remote workers balance their caring needs. It’s a welcome step forward that employers are starting to choose more inclusive work perks.”

Vicky Vitkay, general manager of Work in Startups, comments: “It’s clear that companies have had to reevaluate their work perks to accommodate a remote workforce. Achieving a good work- life balance is essential for employees today; at Work in Startups, we have seen perks go from fancy coffee machines and funded dinners for staying past contracted work hours to childcare support, flexible working hours and pawternity leave! There is now more of a focus on bespoke and beneficial perks rather than those frivolous. Ironically, a lot of the benefits pre-pandemic that may have encouraged employees to work longer hours, are now no longer so desired with more opportunities outside of the office than ever before.”

Britain’s Top Work Perks: 2021

1.  Work from Home Allowance: There are currently over 69,000 vacancies on offer for work-from-home positions, meaning more employees than ever are setting up a home office. We’ve seen a spike in employers offering a ‘Work From Home Allowance’ as part of their benefits package as a result, helping new recruits create a good working environment at home. Some of the packages we’ve spotted include digital consultants Red Badger, offering a £2,000 WFH budget, Facebook, offering all UK employees £750 for their home office, and vehicle comparison site Carwow, offering a £500 WFH allowance. Some employers are going one step further and paying for their workers’ internet and phone bills and home office furniture.

When it comes to defining what the workplace will look like after the pandemic, UK technology companies are leading the way. London-headquartered Spotify has announced it will let its employees choose to work from anywhere they want, indefinitely, signalling they believe working from home is here to stay. TransferWise has announced a hybrid flexible working model, allowing employees to work remotely anywhere in the world for 90 days a year – even the Seychelles.

2.  Virtual Exercise Classes: With gyms remaining closed, many companies are offering virtual exercise classes to help their employees stay healthy. Online florist Bloom & Wild are offering virtual yoga classes, while news site Citywire has a personal trainer who runs weekly lunchtime virtual workout sessions.

3.  Wellbeing support: Encouragingly, many employers are caring for the minds, as well as the hearts, of their employees by championing mindfulness. Fashion sale platform Depop are going one step further, offering their workers subsidised counselling, access to mental health first aiders, and yoga and meditation sessions. We’ve also witnessed more companies offering a ‘wellness allowance’ for workers to spend on anything from meditation app subscriptions, to trainers, to airpods.

4.  Pawternity leave: Puppy sales have boomed over the pandemic, making this perk more popular than ever. First popularised by brewery and pub chain Brewdog who introduced pawternity leave in 2017, more and more employers are allowing time off for employees adopting a furry friend, including online retailer Sofology.

5.  Childcare: As many parents struggle to juggle childcare and work, (especially with schools currently closed!), some forward-thinking companies are introducing child care as a work perk. This trend originated in Silicon Valley, where Facebook recently implemented a policy of 10 weeks of paid leave for employees needing to care for a child or relative. Meanwhile, Google has increased its Carer’s policy to 14 weeks pay, and Amazon has brought in back-up childcare and subsidised tutoring. Encouragingly, the trend may now be taking off in the UK, with American Express offering back-up childcare or adultcare for UK employees, while for those in the office, Leeds-based bank First Direct offers a subsidised on-site nursery. 

6.  Duvet Days: This work perk allows employees to take time off without notice and with no excuse necessary. Duvet Days are separate to sick days and don’t come out of an annual leave allowance, perfect for days when all you’re good for is bingeing a Netflix series. They’ve been around for a few years now, but we’ve seen an uptick in employers offering this perk since the pandemic, with 520 jobs boasting duvet days currently on offer. Notable employers jumping on the bandwagon include video game developer nDreams, offering employees two annual duvet days, and the Money Advice Trust, allowing staff one duvet day per quarter.

7.  Free language lessons: The number of people choosing to learn another language spiked in lockdown 1.0, with language-learning app Duolingo reporting a 300% uptick in new users and a survey by The British Council suggesting as many as 1 in 10 Brits were learning a new language after the start of the pandemic. But can you do this as part of your job? The answer is yes – if you choose carefully. Both Tui and Flight Centre offer their employees free language lessons, while gaming giant SEGA is offering workers Japanese classes.

8. Birthday Treats: Celebrating your birthday remotely needn’t be forgotten with these companies. Online florist Bloom & Wild celebrate their employees’ lockdown birthdays with a letterbox cake, while over 2,100 of job openings on our site advertise employees get the day off on their birthday.