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What are the most popular work perks in Australia?

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Between Casual Fridays and in-house massages, what are some of the best, most sought-after work perks in the Australian workforce?

Reports have highlighted this fortunate era for millennial employees, where benefits once absent 30 years ago are now near-commonplace for the new generation. As of late 2018, unemployment rates in Australia have fallen to a near 18-year low – with a promising selection of new jobs on the market. This gives job-hunters the pleasant opportunity of weighing out the bonuses that companies have to offer, rather than jumping on the first available role. 

SkillsTalk discuss the most popular perks in today’s Australian workplace, and how they benefit the overall performance and the well-being of an employee.

What are the most popular work perks in Australia?

  1. Focus on professional and personal development.
  2. Opportunities for meaningful work.
  3. Flexibility.
  4. Prioritising health and wellness.

1. Focus on professional and personal development.

team at a seminar learning

In a survey by SEEK and Sidekicker of over 8,000 Australian and New Zealand workers, “professional development” ranked fourth place in the top 10 list of most appealing workplace perks.

This finding isn’t all-too surprising; the millennial workforce is largely known for the strong importance they place on career and skills advancement. In fact, a recent whitepaper by Robert Walters shows that a whopping 91% of millennial employees value rapid career progression, while LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report reveals that 93% of workers would stay longer in their role if their development was well invested in. 

Focusing on an employee’s professional growth shows interest in their success. It boosts their morale and motivation – the more valued a worker feels, the higher the quality they’ll produce in their work, and the more loyal they’ll feel towards your company. 

With the economy’s gradual shift into automation and digitalisation, providing upskilling opportunities is also necessary to keep your workers’ skills fresh and relevant. 

Though it’s not just a focus on job-related skills that workers desire, but personal development programs as well. Whether it’s offering study reimbursements or free classes and coaching, employees appreciate the value placed on their wellbeing outside of company business. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, for example, has a staff program dedicated to helping them manage their everyday finances, along with designing emergency funds and plans for long-term goals. 

2. Opportunities for meaningful work.

Alongside options for personal and professional growth, today’s Australian workers also value participation in “meaningful work”. 

There are plenty of factors that play into a “meaningful” job, including fostering a sense of trust, belonging, and purpose within the workplace. This elicits drive among employees, and maintains strong, healthy work relationships. 

Australian employer KPMG took a literal approach to this, with a viral campaign that encouraged workers to connect their jobs to a higher purpose. This resulted in plenty of captivating employee stories, from how they support the agricultural industry to how their work “champions democracy”. 

Once again, Commonwealth Bank nails effective leadership with their Innovation Lab, a place where workers are encouraged to share new ideas, concepts, and brainstorm innovative solutions. Such opportunities inspire workers and motivate continuous progress.

Autonomy also plays a vital role in “meaningful work”, with government census data revealing this to be a strong contributor to overall job satisfaction. 

By providing an autonomous leadership style, you’re effectively supporting your workers in the decisions they make. This helps them feel far more empowered in their skills, and allows them to perform in ways that work best for them.

Overall, the desire for more meaningful tasks have driven employers to focus on intrinsic perks; or psychological, rather than monetary or tangible rewards.

3. Flexibility.

work life balance concept

In the same aforementioned study by SEEK and Sidekicker, flexible work arrangements ranked as the top most-wanted workplace perk – backed by 59% of respondents.

It’s no wonder most successful companies have this neatly wrapped in their benefits package, including Australian employer PWC, who implemented total flexibility among employees in late 2015. This allowed workers to choose when and where they wanted to work, tailoring their schedules to best meet both their professional and personal needs.

This not only establishes mutual trust between employers and employees, but promotes a healthier work-life balance, and places value on your workers’ individual goals. Studies have also shown workplace flexibility’s contribution to greater productivity, engagement, along with lower levels of absenteeism and employee turnover. Workers feel more in control, develop an enhanced sense of responsibility, and therefore, feel more motivated in their work.

A flexible working schedule can also be offered through job-sharing, compressed work weeks, and extra vacation time. 

Employers are also implementing further support for parents, providing extended, paid time off- whether you’re a father, mother, or even a pet owner.

Deloitte Australia, often listed as one of the “best companies to work for in Australia”, offers 18 weeks of paid parental leave with a 20-week support program for returning workers. 

On the more unconventional – yet innovative – side of things, Pet Circle founder Mike Frizell offered the appropriate perk of “paw-ternity leave” in 2018, allowing workers to take paid time off to care for any of their pets in need.

4. Prioritising health and wellness.

In recent years, Australian employers have continuously strived for better mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. With untreated mental health conditions costing the nation’s workforce an approximate $10.9 billion per year, it’s no surprise this makes a highly in-demand work perk. 

In a survey by Beyond Blue, 91% of respondents believed mental health to be an important company priority – ranking above physical safety (of which 88% deemed important).

Fostering positive wellbeing among workers, both psychologically and physically, results in greater productivity and reduced absenteeism within the workplace. Beyond Blue’s survey also shows that managers who promote this inspire greater respect among employees.

The best employers in Australia have tackled this subject in various ways. KMPG encourages open discussion on the topic, by hosting panels where employees can share their personal journeys. Lendlease offers a one “well-being leave” day per quarter on top of their standard annual leave. Deloitte has an actual “wellbeing” program in place, which includes workshops on healthy eating and physical activity.

All of this enhances worker performance and promotes a supportive workplace culture, lending to long-term business success and increased employee loyalty. 

Workplace benefits have come a long way since the rise of millennials - and with the current job market ripe with selection, Australian companies have constantly found new, unique ways of tending to employee needs.

Job seekers now look beyond standard monetary incentives, focusing on how employers can cater to their personal as well as professional, wellbeing. As stated by Jason Laufer of LinkedIn’s Talent and Learning Solutions, “Employees who feel valued, happy and supported are less likely to leave an organisation, and more likely to promote the company to prospective employees.”

Looking to improve your management style?

Maintaining a happy workforce comes with good leadership. At Upskilled, we offer a generous selection of courses in business leadership and management, from short courses to graduate diplomas. Each qualification is delivered 100% online, letting you tailor your study to a schedule that works best. Enquire today, and discover the ideal course for you. 
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