What are employee benefits?
The term “employee benefits” implies that all of the benefits lie with the employee – but it’s important to recognise that implementing a fair benefits programme can reap serious rewards for employers, as well.
Not only will you increase staff satisfaction and boost productivity with employee benefits, but you’ll also pose a more attractive proposition to new recruits and persuade your best talent to stay put. Indeed, poor employee retention rates can be a hugely costly expense for companies, since the time and resources required to source and train replacements could be far better spent elsewhere. With that in mind, ensuring you have in place a robust benefits programme is key to the success of your enterprise.
Which benefits you should offer depends entirely on your unique situation. Among other influencing factors, you should consider the resources available to you, the niche in which you operate and the specific circumstances of individual employees. However, it might be a good idea to consider incorporating the following areas into your benefits package to allow employees the freedom to choose the particular areas most suited to their needs and wants.
Giving your staff the liberty to manage their own time will not only make their life much easier, it’ll also show them you have faith in their ability to meet targets and achieve goals without micromanagement. Offering flexitime, as well as the ability to work from home on occasion, is viewed as a huge advantage by employees of an independent disposition – and will make them far more kindly disposed to you.
There are bound to be some members of the team who prioritise an active life; make fitting those extracurricular pastimes around their work commitments all the easier by offering free or discounted gym memberships to those who want them. Establishing an agreement with a local gym will likely result in cut-price rates for the company as a whole. Alternatively, you could join the UK’s Cycle to Work scheme and allow your employees to purchase a new bike and accessories tax-free, giving them access to savings of up to 39%.
There’s nothing quite like an out-of-hours get-together to get the team gelling and pulling in one direction. This could take the form of a regular occurrence (such as Taco Fridays or Bowling Tuesdays) or a one-off shindig where you reward your workforce by taking them out for a slap-up meal, a cookery class or a round of golf. Perhaps conduct a survey to see what sort of extra-curricular activity would be most popular and arrange for it to happen.
While the NHS does provide a safety net with regards to universal healthcare, some employees would certainly appreciate a helping hand in acquiring private insurance. Similarly, the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) applies to most employees for up to 28 weeks, but offering additional remuneration in the form of Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) also reflects well on the company’s empathy and understanding. Dental and optical insurance can also be valued policies for staff with a history of such medical complaints.
Aside from offering maternity and paternity pay for newly-blessed parents, the opportunity to receive company-subsidised day care for their little ones can be a massive boon to many. This could take the form of vouchers in lieu of a portion of the employee’s salary and can give protective parents invaluable peace of mind that their child is being properly cared for while they are at work.
According to government regulations, employers can legally provide their staff with an interest-free loan of up to £10,000 every taxable year. This is most commonly used to purchase seasonal or annual travel cards, which can work out far cheaper than daily, weekly or monthly equivalents. However, it needn’t be restricted to such use; employee loans can be a great way for a business to help its loyal workforce finally renovate that kitchen or upgrade on their vehicle, establishing trust and loyalty between the two.
Perhaps one of the simplest and most traditional of employee benefits, paid vacations are still one of the most prized by employees. Who wouldn’t like to put their feet up on some far-flung beach in an exotic location and be paid for the privilege? A company which outstrips its competitors in terms of the number of paid holidays is likely to have their employees come back more refreshed and recharged than others.
As mentioned above, recruitment and the hiring of new staff can be a laborious process – but it needn’t be. Your existing workforce is a great untapped resource for new talent; put in place a referral bonus scheme whereby each staff member receives a financial reward every time they recommend a candidate who is eventually hired and you’ll not only have a united, happy workforce on your hands, you’ll also save time and money in assembling it.
Prioritise contentment over compensation
Although many of the benefits above may involve no small financial outlay, they will pay for themselves many times over when they result in a satisfied workforce who are committed to making your business succeed in the long-term.
Even if some of them seem too extravagant for the budget your company can afford, it makes sense to reward the diligence of your workers in any way you can. They’ll certainly thank you for it and repay you in kind with their own loyalty and dedication, which is worth its weight in gold.