The State of Australian Employee Benefits Research

Competition for tech talent in Australia is fierce.

Companies offer many employee benefits in order to attract and retain high-quality people.

We know that job seekers research companies when they evaluate a potential employer. In the current market, where companies are trying to lure people away from their employers in order to work for them, it makes sense that they’d be able to offer competitive benefits that are enticing and attractive.

We looked at a sample set of 125 technology-led companies in Australia. The companies we looked at fell into 4 categories, Fintech, Consulting (Technical/Digital), Banking & Financial Services, and Technology (mainly SaaS, Marketplace & Platform businesses). They ranged from established businesses with valuations up to $7bn to newer, high-profile companies with valuations of $50m and above.

We went to the careers sections on their websites as well as Glassdoor pages and recorded what was publicly available because this is what potential candidates do.

Whilst there, we looked for details around 14 offerings that are the most discussed on social media platforms such as Linkedin, Reddit, Slack & Facebook.

In no particular order they are;

  1. Stock/Equity – Does the company offer any financial incentives outside of salary and super?
  2. Financial planning – Does the company offer any financial management services.
  3. Remote work – Does the company offer 100% remote work as a standard?
  4. Hybrid work – Do they offer hybrid remote/in-office options?
  5. Training allowance – In a knowledge-based industry, does the company provide an allowance for their staff to keep skills and knowledge up to date?
  6. Health Insurance – Given the current state of the world, does the company offer any health insurance coverage or discounts?
  7. Parental leave – What is the companies position on parental leave?
  8. Paternity leave – Do they explicitly offer paternity leave?
  9. Equipment – Do they offer anything other than a computer such as a home set up allowance?
  10. Gym &  Fitness – Does the company offer any kind of gym membership or wellness initiatives?
  11. Community/Volunteering opportunities – Does the company allow employees to get involved in any employee communities or external volunteering initiatives?
  12. Employee assistance programs (EAP) – Does the company have some kind of established EAP?
  13. End of trip facilities – For people coming into the office, are there any bicycle parks and/or changing/showering type facilities?
  14. D&I Focus – Whilst this shouldn’t be a “benefit”, we were also interested to understand if the company took the time to describe their position with regards to D&I?

The results.

The number here is the % of all surveyed businesses that actively promote the fact that they offer this benefit.

Stock/Equity 17.12%

Just over a quarter of companies offer financial incentives such as an ESOP or RSU’s. Interestingly the lowest performer in this category was the Fintech space at 16% when we expected them to be the highest. The Tech sector was in fact the highest at 26%.

Financial planning 29.51%

A third of the companies we looked at offered some kind of financial planning services. Unsurprisingly, the Banking & FS sector ranked top as providers of financial planning benefits at 54%. The Tech space was the lowest at 6.5%.

Remote work 58.01%

Just over half (58%) of all companies are offering 100% remote roles. The highest performing sector was Consulting at 100%. Client projects need delivering regardless, so they’ve clearly found a way to make it work for everyone.

The lowest-performing sector was Banking & FS at 36% which given their regulatory commitments and concerns over issues such as insecure home networks, is probably understandable.

Hybrid work 64.98%

Again the Consulting space was the stand out here at 100%, with the Fintech sector seemingly less comfortable with only 41% offering hybrid options.

Training allowance 63.11%

The Consulting world again was the big stand out at 100% of companies offering an allowance. Fintech again surprised us with only 37% offering some kind of training allowance.

Health Insurance 51.20%

Size brings benefits and many of the Consulting firms employ thousands of people, so they’ve obviously negotiated great rates. So much so that they were the clear leaders in this category at 83%. The Fintech sector once again was last over the line at 20%. Maybe they’re too busy thinking about disrupting Insurance rather than offering it 🙂

Parental leave 62.04%

If you’re planning a family, then think about a career in Consulting, 83% of the firms in this sector offer 18 weeks or more parental leave. Maybe stay away from the Fintech space though, under a third (28%) offer the same.

Paternity leave 52.99%

New fathers are well looked after in the Banking & FS world, with 81% of firms offering some kind of paternity leave. They actually came a very close second to the Consulting sector in the Parental leave category.

However, they’ve most likely been quicker to replicate this benefit across both genders. Once again, those cool Fintech kids came in last at only 18%.

Gym/Fitness 24.17%

Admittedly it’s been hard to even get into a gym in Australia for the last year or so but 41% of Consulting firms offer membership or subsidy of some kind. So if you like push-ups, that’s where you should be working. At 10%, the Banking & FS sector is too busy counting the money, but they obviously have other people to carry it for them.

Equipment 15.51%

To be honest, we thought that this one was so simple to roll out that every tech-led business would be jumping up and down about the cool stuff they offer. Nopes. Not at all. Under 16% of all the companies, we looked at talked about it.

The Consulting firms at 41% were the standouts and the Banking & FS sector, at a measly 10%, were the last to cross the Equipment line.

Community/Volunteering opportunities 29.76%

On average just under a third of companies have some kind of link back into the community through social initiatives such as volunteering. The Tech sector was the highest performer here at 39% and the Fintech space at 20% was the lowest.

Employee assistance programs (EAP) 41.24%

The EAP is probably thought of as an old-school benefit, which could be why the Consulting world a more established sample set of companies, at 50% was the highest performer. Our Fintech chums once again limped home last at 21%.

End of trip facilities 8.53%

The tumbleweeds have blown through the corporate showers and cycle racks in the last year, so it’s unsurprising that this one might not have much focus, but at 28% it’s not as low as others.

The Tech sector at 26% was the highest performer and Banking & F/S was the lowest at 10%. As organisations try to reconnect cross-functional teams in person, maybe they’ll need to better communicate the in-office experience including end of trip facilities.

Diversity & Inclusion Focus 47.73%

Given the nature of our business, this one was the one we were most interested in. To be honest it’s also the one we were the most disappointed with. Less than half of the organisations in our sample set actively and publicly describe their position on D&I. At 67%, the Consulting sector was the top-performing sector. At a paltry 24%, the Fintech’s were again last.

The baseline.

So as an employer, what do your benefits need to consist of in order to be attractive and competitive? Let’s take a look, in order of the things we get asked the most by candidates.

Remote work

It goes without saying that the current knowledge worker wants the flexibility of a hybrid workplace but with the option to be 100% remote if they want or need to be. Offering remote work “for now” or “until we can all come back” isn’t enough for people at the moment. And it may never be again.

Equipment

The days of turning up to the office and being given a desk that still has the previous persons’ blu-tack and old pens in the top drawer are, thankfully, well and truly behind us. Arent they? Does anyone else remember tipping their new keyboard upside down only to see a loaf of breadcrumbs drop out of it? Choice of a laptop, choice of monitor, home office allowance in your 1st pay – these should be standard and are expected.

Parental leave

The last two years have seen the statutory Parental and Paternity leave allowances state that eligible working parents receive 18 weeks of parental leave pay at the national minimum wage.

This is fully funded by the Australian Government, though employers must process the payments through their payroll. Eligible working dads and partners can receive 2 weeks of government-funded pay. Not all workers understand this, so stating loud and proud on your careers page in and amongst your benefits makes sense.

Financial benefits

Whilst plenty of studies have shown that money isn’t the biggest single deciding factor for job seekers, there’s no doubt that it’s important. ESOP’s, RSU’s or any other form of long term compensation is comparatively rare in the big scheme of things. The idea of skin in the game isn’t new of course, but it’s something that has been proven to bring plenty of benefits to both employers and employees.

Training allowance

The technology sector is constantly evolving. The technology itself, leading practices and capabilities are always changing. Knowledge workers are aware of this and they want to stay up to date. The worst thing for them is for their skills and knowledge to be outdated, so offering the ability to remain relevant is a high-value benefit. It also ultimately benefits the employer.

D&I Focus

We see an increasing number of knowledge workers wanting to understand a companies’ position on D&I. It’s becoming a deciding factor, so state your position and prove it. A simple way to do this is through imagery of your actual team – not stock images and never stock diversity images. You could also find out how many different native languages are spoken in the business. One of our clients has 17, how many do you have?

The takeaways

Consumers and Candidates are all people

Digital adoption has seen us go to great lengths to give consumers all the information they need to make decisions about buying our products and services. Yet many businesses don’t extend the same thinking to potential candidates, which is entirely illogical. Until this happens, it’s easy to see how knowledge-based workers can feel commoditised.

Ownership

When talking to companies about their careers communications, we sometimes hear language about the need to be “on-brand” and that Marketing needs to approve any copy or imagery. Given that Marketing is primarily tasked with revenue-generating activity, careers communication generally sits at the bottom of a priority list. The reality is that TA or People teams need to own this area. If they dont have the creative or marketing capability within their team, then they need the budget to leverage external support.

Maturity need not be a barrier

If a relatively new company just doesn’t offer these benefits yet, they can easily talk about their roadmap of benefits, in other words, what’s coming and when. This is at the very least showing that employee care is on the agenda and being discussed. This is honestly true for businesses of any size.

Massive upside

We’re totally aware that some of the businesses we looked at may actually offer the benefits we went looking for but didn’t find. For those that do, updating a careers page should be relatively simple, it’s the new year anyway so why not give it an update and then build a candidate marketing campaign around it.

If Careers pages are the window to your business, then maybe the benefits you offer are a window to your culture?

Some observations

One of the companies we looked at stated that they were “Open to discussing flexible working at the interview stage”, we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that this was their position pre-covid and that things will have changed now? It highlights that Careers pages shouldn’t be static pages that are set and forgotten. The workplace evolves, and workers expectations have evolved, now more than ever, and so the way that benefits and culture are described should evolve also.

A benefit we loved the sound of was “an extra week of paid leave to learn something you’ve always wanted to”. Given how time-consuming work is at the moment, and how remote work can blur the lines between work and home life, this sounds like a great initiative.

Something we see with organisations that are genuinely focused on employee benefits is the way they’re described. The language they use is very human, rather than a dot point, they might say something like this “Our parental leave policy and return to work flexibility for primary and secondary carers helps parents manage their family while maintaining their career at…..” It’s human, it’s relatable and it’s genuine. This is what people want.

In the big scheme of things, the majority of knowledge workers aren’t looking for anything too unrealistic or unreasonable. For the most part, they want to be treated well, paid fairly and have flexibility.

How does your workplace stack up against this list and what benefits have you heard of or experienced that you couldn’t do without?