Employee Benefits – What Really Works?



Employee Benefits – What Really Works?

It’s an all-too familiar recruiting scenario: You’ve found a qualified candidate that you hope to hire. Everything seems to be a go.....until they decide to go with another position.

They turned down your offer -- why? The other job offered benefits that were more attractive. Understanding the motivational drivers for candidate job offers is key to a successful hiring process.

But it’s not ‘one size fits all’ – the more creative, flexible and personalised benefits schemes, are the ones winning all the prizes: loyalty, satisfaction, contentment!

If companies are to thrive they need to attract and then hold on to staff who are able, experienced and talented. But in tough economic conditions this is not always easy.

Company benefit packages – with pensions, savings and protection plans – can help companies recruit and retain staff. This isn’t just about the products on offer, but also the information and support given – guidance about retirement options or accessing up-to-date information about the value of their funds.

So basic salary aside what really tips the balance for taking a new role and remaining in that role?

  • Location, accessibility & parking - It's hard for some organisations with city centre offices to be able to offer easy accessibility or parking, but for some proximity to train stations, season ticket loans, flexibility around start and finish times (to work with public transport) can be attractive. Again it’s important to understand what works best for each employee & ascertain this before they join, one of the top reasons for people leaving jobs is location and commute time, so be clear before you hire!
  • Flexible Working - Initiating flexible working schemes may seem time-consuming and costly, but employers who use such schemes are often evangelical about the benefits they bring in terms of recruitment and retention. Even a small outlay can reap rewards in the form of happier employees, who are then more likely to work their way up the career ladder within your company than take their skills elsewhere.
  • Telecommuting - Allowing employees to work from home offers many of the same advantages as flexible working. In addition to improved productivity due to fewer interruptions, it offers the ability to work at the time of day the employee is most effective, and employees can work during the time they would normally spend commuting.
  • Reward & Bonus Schemes - A well designed and ‘feasible’ bonus schemes are critical in many positions, especially if there is a sales element of the role. These schemes work best if they are based on a mixture of personal and company performance.
  • Pension - Studies have shown that pensions are the company benefit valued most by employees and are likely to be even more highly rated in future. Changes announced in the Budget mean workers will have greater access to these funds from age 55. Offering a good company pension is a sign the employer is prepared to make long-term investments in staff, not only giving them a salary today, but also providing a lump sum at retirement age.
    However, ensure staff are aware of and fully engaged in the process. There is little benefit in spending time and money on setting up a pension scheme if employees don’t understand the potential benefits.
  • Private Medical Insurance - 'Look after your employees and they will look after your company...' Your employees are the most important assets within your organisation. It’s imperative that you look after them, after all a happy and healthy workforce could bring substantial benefits to your business. One of the best ways to demonstrate your caring credentials, is through a private medical insurance scheme. You will experience less sickness absence and increased morale and motivation amongst your employees - all of which should help improve your productivity and ultimately, the success of your business.

Lower-Cost Ways to Show Employees They’re Highly Valued

Pick and choose some of these low-cost ways to show your employees how important they are, and it’ll help you attract talent, increase employee satisfaction, and reduce costly employee turnover, which is far more profitable than scaling back benefits.

Small businesses can compete for talent without breaking the bank. Yes, you still need to pay competitive wages to get people in the door, but it’s the perks that will help you retain them.

Childcare vouchers - Attract and retain the best staff with a real benefit for working parents, helps retain staff returning from maternity or paternity leave. Childcare Vouchers are an excellent way for parents to make savings on the cost of their childcare. Childcare vouchers are taken out of an employee's salary before tax and National Insurance through something called 'salary sacrifice'. That means that where they could have, for example, £700 in their pay cheque over the year, they can choose to get £1,000 of vouchers instead (though the exact amounts will depend on how much tax they pay). These vouchers can be used to pay for nursery, preschool, a nanny or a childminder up until a child's 15th birthday.

Travel Loans - Some employers will offer an interest free loan of up to £5,000 to allow employees to buy an annual travel card or season ticket (they're usually cheaper than buying daily, weekly or monthly tickets).

Smartphone - Company schemes are such good value now that if you can, offer your employees a smartphone for business and personal use.

Fully stocked kitchen - Provide free coffee, soft drinks, and snacks for employees during work hours. Want to bump this up a notch? add fresh fruit and healthy options to the shopping list and perhaps a beer or bottle of wine for a Friday afternoon drink!

Free lunch - Order in for all your employees once a month to foster community and give employees a break from making / buying their lunches. 

Dress code - Ensure its appropriate for your business, but often a smart / casual approach can help with creating a better work environment, dress-down Fridays are always a winner!

Holiday - Offer good holiday allowances, in a recent survey that Cactus undertook, we found that the average holiday was 23 days + Bank Holidays. Also offer unpaid holiday so employees can take more time off if required to help with childcare or an important event. Give an extra day off on Birthdays!

Cultural Extras - Keep the workplace exciting by mixing in rewards like meals out, concert tickets, movie outings, or passes to sporting events. Don’t forget to throw some cash your employee’s way to cover the babysitter.

Sabbaticals - Offer month-long sabbaticals after five years of service, or two months after 10 years of service.

Employee referral programs - Good people know other good people, and the best employees are usually hired through referrals. Those who refer candidates who are hired receive a cash bonus award.

Paid time off to volunteer - Employees are given a specific amount of time to volunteer in their communities.

Family Events - A huge benefit that many employees will appreciate is if the company embraces family and hosts a few family friendly events each year. Try a summertime BBQ or a winter visit from Father Christmas!

Incorporating perks like these into your organisation will help you attract top talent, increase employee satisfaction, and reduce costly employee turnover, which in the end is far more profitable than scaling back on your benefit expenses to save a few bucks.

The most successful ideas come from employees, so it may be worth getting together ideas from a few people and approaching management if you feel your business could benefit from such schemes.