'We are sending them a message to focus on family, friends and recharging'
MetLife Australia has expanded its employee benefits program by gifting permanent employees and fixed-term contractors three days of additional annual leave to be taken during the break between the Christmas and New Year public holidays.
The additional leave is on top of the standard four week annual leave entitlement.
The initiative is designed to encourage employees to take a break and recharge over the holiday period, helps to promote a healthier work-life balance after MetLife research revealed this still remains the major challenge facing Australian employees and employers.
The MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study 2019 surveyed over 300 employers and more than 1,000 employees to better understand how employers can attract, engage, and retain the best talent through their benefits offerings.
The findings revealed that more than half of Australians feel stressed at work between half and all of the time, but the work itself is not always the source of that stress. While personal finances was the highest ranked source of stress, 24% of employees surveyed said family commitments was a key factor.
Alex Sosnov, Head of Talent, Asia Pacific and Head of People & Culture Australia at MetLife, said the holiday period can be a stressful one, especially if you’re trying to spend quality time with family and friends and your mind is still on work.
“Year-end can be a quiet period in some industries and many employers have forced business closures over the break where employees must use their leave accrual,” said Sosnov.
“By gifting our employees with three additional days of annual leave, to be taken over the year-end break we are sending them a message to focus on family, friends and recharging without forcing them to take a break out of their own pocket.
“I think we’re going to see more and more Australian businesses get creative with their benefits offering, particularly when it comes to flexibility and leave policies.
“And it’s a win-win because the research consistently shows employers that help their teams achieve work/life effectiveness and respect their lives outside of work, have a more productive and engaged workforce, which will lead to greater profitability in the long term.”
The research suggests emerging benefits programs can help employers meet the growing demand for employees “whole selves” to be supported in the workplace.
The vast majority (88%) of employees said they would prefer to work for an employer that is known for respecting their out-of-work lives and that, in turn, having work/life balance makes them more productive (78%) and more engaged (76%).
Companies are expected to take into account the unique circumstances, values, backgrounds and perspectives of their workforce to deliver individualised benefits at scale.
Even though there is no one-size-fits-all solution, benefits in the form of flexible work schedules, additional paid and unpaid leave, as well as company-wide communication blackout periods for mental health are becoming more popular.
And with a third (32%) of employees saying additional paid time off or annual leave is a must-have benefit (the third highest ‘must have’ benefit), more Australian businesses should be considering their leave policies in the benefits mix.
By updating employee benefits schemes to adapt to this change and implementing policies which provide employees with the time and freedom to take a break and tend to their personal needs, there can be substantial gains in employee satisfaction.