If you’re looking to introduce an employee benefits package into your organisation, the big question you’re probably asking yourself is “Just what makes A good employee benefits package?’
And it’s a question we get asked a lot! Not surprising really, given that we’ve been successfully helping organisations all over the world with their benefits for over 50 years!
The answer however isn’t as straightforward as you might think. This is because implementing an employee benefits programme isn’t as easy as heading to the shops and picking something off the shelf. Every business is different; with its’ own set of unique challenges, employee demographics and preferences.
So, instead of asking ‘What makes a great employee benefits package’, the question you really should be asking is: ‘What would make a great employee benefits package for my team?’
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, AND YOU’LL GET THE RIGHT ANSWERS
There’s no doubt that offering a wide range of benefits for employees is a good thing. After all, today’s modern employee wants more from their job than just a regular salary!
In an ultra-competitive jobs market, employees now expect the world of work to not only provide a satisfying career path, but also help improve their quality of life - a competitive salary and a decent coffee machine are merely the tip of the engagement iceberg.
It’s also important to remember that benefits are a driving force behind positive staff engagement and retention. Offering longer-term benefits to employees is a proven way to encourage them to stick around for longer and develop their careers with you; reducing staff turnover and ensuring crucial skills and experience stay with your organisation.
But, before you do all that, we come back to the original question: Just what should a good employee benefits package look like? And the answer is a lot closer to home than you realise.
To discover what the best employee benefits package for your team looks like, you need to start by engaging with your own business. This is because there’s no blanket answer to choosing the right employee benefits package!
What may engage with one workforce may not be of interest to another, so it’s critical that you start your journey not necessarily by looking at how others have approached it, but by identifying the needs, challenges and requirements of your own people and business.
So, now we know where to start, what should you be looking for?
DOES IT OFFER YOU A GOOD RETURN ON INVESTMENT?
Your internal budgets will obviously play a huge part to play in the type of benefits you offer, but there are some employee benefits which can end up paying for themselves in the long run – in fact, you could even achieve cost-free employee benefits!
Take annual leave purchase, for example.
This is a beautifully simple benefit that gives the gift of time for your employees and helps support a healthy work-life balance – not bad, right? But the benefit also works nicely for the employer, too. This is because if used as a salary sacrifice arrangement, it can help businesses save money by reducing wage expenditure and in turn, reduces National Insurance payments. It really is a win-win for everyone!
Also, remember that a good ‘return on investment’ can also include your staff retention rates, productivity and your recruitment costs – not just the initial bottom-line investment or staff take-up.
DO THEY HELP YOUR PEOPLE LIVE HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER LIFESTYLES?
With people now living longer but our treasured National Health Service struggling to meet demand, looking after your workforce with health and wellbeing benefits can often make a world of difference to their lives.
Health and wellbeing benefits can take a multitude of forms: from cycle-to-work schemes or discounted gym memberships to help your employees keep active, to employee assistance programmes or access to financial advice to help with their mental or financial wellbeing.
A good benefits package can go a long way to improving the health and wellbeing of your people; and when you have a healthy workforce, you’ll have a better chance of having a happier, more productive organisation, too!
DO THEY HELP IMPROVE YOUR EMPLOYEES’ QUALITY OF LIFE?
Employee benefits shouldn’t be viewed as a perk or a bonus of working for an organisation – they’re intrinsic to positive company cultures and success. So, when you think about the benefits you offer to staff, think about the effect they have on their quality of life both inside and outside the workplace – not just whether they’re a flash-in-the-pan fad, an Instagram-baiting trend or even a benefit at all!
It’s also important to consider that the benefits that have the greatest impact are the ones which improve not only the lives of the employee; but also their friends and families, too. When you offer a benefit such as discounts at high street retailers, flexible working or even just cinema tickets, they can be used and enjoyed by those people closest to your employees – their friends and families!
CAN THEY BE USED AND ACCESSED EASILY?
Benefits packages can only be truly engaging and effective when:
A: Your employees know they exist, and
B: They can be used and accessed easily.
When you’re deciding on the types of benefits you want to offer, think about how they can be redeemed: are there mountains of forms to complete or credit checks to pass? Can discounts be claimed whilst on the move? Are they relevant, up-to-date and include offers for local retailers?
Also, think about how they’re communicated to your employees. It’s all well and good including the usual benefits blurbs on job listings or buried deep in your employees’ contracts; but are they communicated regularly to keep them in sight and in mind?
Having a great catalogue of employee benefits is one thing, but ensuring that you keep up employee engagement with them is a process which can often be forgotten…
HAVE YOU ASKED YOUR EMPLOYEES?
Finally – or perhaps firstly! – ask your employees!
One common mistake we often see made by organisations both large and small is that their benefits programmes are simply not relevant to their employees and as a result, staff take up and engagement are non-existent.
There is a reason why this is such a common mistake, however – and it takes us back to the original question of ‘What makes a good employee benefits package?’
The problem is that some businesses will look at the success of another similar organisation and think that introducing the same sort of approach will yield the same excellent results. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.
Undertaking activities such as employee surveys, focus groups, inductions, exit interviews and even team meetings are all ideal ways to identify the benefits that will work best for your business and your employees.
Whether you're just looking to get a better understanding of what your people will engage with, or even want to give them overall control of the benefits you offer, it's critical to involve your employees in the process and not simply do as others do.
The input from your employees will give you the big answer you seek; ensuring that you know you've picked the right benefits package for your business and one that your people really want.