Companies are increasingly offering sweeteners such as flexible work styles, personal leave, and mental health support to help them be happy at work. But can it replace the good old wage rise, especially as inflation approaches double digits?

According to a recent study by global recruiter Robert Walters, workers are experiencing three life crises, leading to a “major remodeling” of the employment market.

With rising living costs, increasing importance of mental health, and the need for a “purpose” at work, people are looking for companies that can offer more.

Grant Thornton, a professional services company that announced last year that it will hire an additional 1,000 staff in Ireland, is currently offering fertility and compassionate leave for lost pregnancy and is updating its surrogacy leave policy. increase.

Grant Thornton’s partner and chairman, Sinead Donovan, said:

“It’s not just about retention and appeal that matters to us. It’s obviously very important, but it’s important to make employees feel like they can speak out about their challenges.”

Grant Thornton is not the only Irish company to introduce more family-friendly policies to attract workers.

In January of this year, telecommunications provider Eir introduced policies on fertility, miscarriage, menopause and domestic violence.

Following Vodafone Ireland, Germany-owned Lidl Ireland recently announced that it will offer paid maternity leave regardless of the length of service of its employees.

Technology giants Apple, Facebook and Google have announced that they will help staff pay for fertility treatments, including egg freezing, dating back to 2014.

Moira Glasic, Chief Operating Officer of Peninsula Ireland, an Irish business advisory firm, said: “All of this makes you more attractive when you are trying to prioritize your company over anyone else.”

However, she warned that additional leave could put some women at a “slight disadvantage” when it comes to calculating the gender pay gap that large companies have to do from this year.

Employers should also try to stay ahead of government moves to improve workers’ rights, Mr. Grassic said.

“It’s also a sign of your employees that you’re actively working and making it a comfortable place to work. The recruitment market is very tight and it’s important to maintain the staff you have. is.”

So, do these policies really help attract and retain staff, or do rising wages prove the main sweetener?

The public-sector trade union plans to begin formal talks this week on a new wage deal with the government, calling for an 8-10% increase.

Workers in the private sector are already demanding and getting high wages to deal with inflation. Inflation reached a high of nearly 8% in May for nearly 40 years.

Tesco recently announced to Irish staff a 10% salary increase over three years.

In the unblocked sector last year, average weekly revenues increased by 5.9% and financial, insurance and real estate payments increased by 22.7% in the first three months of 2022, according to Central Statistics Office Ireland.

Sweeteners such as flexible work, office fruit baskets, and compassionate leaves “100 pieces are not a replacement for high wages, but they can go some way,” Grassic said. increase.

Suzanne Finney, managing director of Robert Walters Ireland, recently said employers shouldn’t “get caught up in a spiral of wages and prices and fight somewhat unpredictable inflation” instead. He said that the benefits of

“Employers need to consider other ways to add financial value to their employees’ lives, such as small ones that can reduce the burden of daily living expenses. Breakfast preparation, fruit baskets, snacks and drinks I’m happy.

“Also, take the flexi work agenda further and consider allowing staff to travel by off-peak trains or reducing high fuel costs when traffic is reduced.”

Economists and central bankers aren’t yet worried that wages are too high to drive extra spending and even higher inflation, but Treasury Minister Paschal Donohoe is worried.

He warned this week that the next budget could not be “part of the problem” with respect to rising costs, saying there was a “limit” to what the state could do to offset inflation.

However, as job vacancies have more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, companies, especially large multinationals hiring from abroad, have seen significant wage increases, especially as housing costs in Ireland continue to rise. You may find it difficult to resist.

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