How Employee Benefits Are Changing in 2017
Employee benefits, or benefits in kind, have traditionally been used to recruit the best people to your company and then provide the employee satisfaction to keep them there.
Recently, however, employee benefits have become an important tool in defining office culture and forming brand identity. They can be key to several areas of your business and it’s important to constantly review whether the money you spend on benefitting your employees is achieving enough to make the cost worthwhile.
Employee Perk Box
This virtual box of incentives is a wonderful tool for offering perks to employees, allowing them to take advantage of other companies and the benefits they offer. One example is Perkbox, which offers small businesses support in offering staff discounts and benefits. This leads to increased employee engagement and staff retention, thereby reducing recruitment costs. Feedback from employees is extremely positive so this is certainly something to think about for your business’s employee benefits.
Employee benefits: more than you think
Firstly, it is easy to forget that employee benefits cover more than just medical insurance and company cars. Employee benefits include anything in addition to a salary that a company gives to its employees in order to reward and motivate them.
Bart Lorang, CEO of FullContact made news last year when he started paying for employees’ holidays. The only conditions are that you can’t work or check your emails while away. Although this sounds extravagant, it makes a lot of sense. Compared to giving employees a bonus on their salary, paying for a holiday has some clear advantages.
Firstly, it ensures that employees do take proper holidays: i.e. travel, explore and do fun, relaxing things with their families. Taking these kind of holidays are shown to improve employees’ satisfaction and improves productivity.
Leo Widrich, COO of Buffer, has pioneered a similar reward scheme. He explains how, while a bonus can be spent and is quickly forgotten, the memories from a family holiday will be a tangible thing that working at the company has provided.
“People were so happy, so excited”, Widrich explained “Some people with families came up to us afterwards and hugged us and cried and said ‘I didn’t see a possibility for me to go on a meaningful trip with my family up until this point. This is really going to impact my life in a meaningful way.’”
Corporate gym membership is an employee benefit that won’t add thousands to your payroll, but will produce a marked difference in your team. Depending on your office location, a good local gym can be found for £50-100 a month per employee.
Most obviously, gym membership will have a positive effect on the physical well being of your team. Fitter employees will take fewer sick days and, should you have a group private medical scheme, employees who are in better shape will make fewer claims, helping to keep your premiums down.
It is the additional advantages of gym membership that are most pleasing for employers. Regular exercise can help reduce stress, improve sleep quality and elevate mood. Because happier employees are more productive, gym membership looks like a good option in a world where workplace stress is on the rise.
The psychological benefits of exercise don’t end there either. A study by Bristol University found that active breaks – i.e. exercise during the day – improved problem solving, concentration and networking.
Gifting staff take-home technology upon joining the company is a sure way to make them feel invested in, but it also has a wide range of practical applications. Of course, this employee benefit is industry-sensitive; up-to-date technology is crucial in some sectors and less so in others.
Giving everyone the same laptop will minimise technical glitches, allow your team to share their knowledge of bug-fixes and generally promote a body of best practice. But when it comes to benefits that will really feel like perks to employees, you need to branch out from work-centric items.
Providing cutting-edge company phones and tablets will show your new starter that you are investing in them as a person; that you’re willing to spend a significant outlay and trusting them to stay with your company for the foreseeable future. The benefits of giving staff new technology can also be topped-up as time goes by, with yearly upgrades for staff to look forward to.
The role of employee benefits may be changing, but traditional benefits such as private health insurance and group income protection are as important to attracting and retaining high-achieving staff as ever.