It’s the 21st century and the workplace and workforce have changed. There’s much more variety in the job market and diversity in the ways in which we’re allowed to work. The success of a more fluid job market has brought about a number of structural changes.
One of these positive developments is employee benefits, and how they're changing the way people relate to their work. These benefits are growing in popularity. In fact, a study by Glassdoor revealed that 57% of people would put perks and benefits amongst their top considerations before joining a company. This shows employees are no longer just considering salaries when looking for a new job or wondering whether to stay in their current role.
A further reason for this is that for workers, the line between work and personal life is becoming ever more blurred. This, of course, comes with both positives and pitfalls. However, employers can help dispel any negatives by utilising employee benefits to optimise the working day, and life outside of work.
What are company perks?
Call them employee benefits, company perks, or wonderful gifts from a deity, whatever they are, your organisation can use them to improve employees' lives in numerous ways. As working lives can often seep into personal lives, it's important that employers do the most they can to maximise employees' wellbeing and work/life balance – this doesn't just benefit the individual, but it boosts company morale, engagement and motivation too.
Let’s start with the bottom line of business - productivity and profitability. It’s no secret that an employee who spends their day wishing they were somewhere else will likely produce poorer work than an employee who is engaged and enthusiastic about what they do.
This is employee engagement in full effect. The more engaged the employee, the better work they produce. So a big step to achieving a more engaged workforce is showing them that you care about more than just ticking those boxes, and a comprehensive employee benefits package can be a great way to get this message across.
Are perks important?
Physically and emotionally healthy workforces will also boost productivity, so why not consider providing benefits that give improved access to such services? When employees see you taking care of them to this extent, they know they're working for the good guys and feel happier both at work and in their personal lives.
This, in turn, can boost engagement and create a healthy company culture, which all feeds back into each other. An engaged and rewarded workforce is likely to display a sought-after characteristic: loyalty. This has unlimited benefits within an organisation.
But how can employee benefits help companies?
Looking after your employees’ well being is a great way to show them you care, but there are also a variety of ways to show employees you're committed to their professional development too. Food stipends for new parents, commuting allowances, training and qualifications towards positive career progression, and even extra holiday days - these all help employees take that next step and thrive in their current situation.
These can all be offered as part of a benefits scheme that’s designed to improve your employees’ quality of life. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company where this is available?
Related to talent retention is talent acquisition. Company perks not only help you keep top talent, but also attract it to your organisation. Many commentators have decried the “war for talent” that's ongoing in the recruitment world. Accordingly, many companies are upping their game when it comes to perks in order to recruit the perfect person for the job.
Indeed, 50% of the modern workforce - who are now millennials - might be influenced to join a company by their benefits package, as found by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. So you’re going to want to make sure you aren’t just attracting the top talent, but the freshest ideas too.
Are company perks expensive?
The idea of forking out thousands per month to contribute to employees’ commuting costs might seem way out of reach for your small business.
However, many perks can make a positive impact while requiring little financial investment. Group mindfulness and yoga sessions throughout the week is an affordable way to keep your workers feeling physically and mentally limber. Also, offering flexible working hours and work-from-home days needn’t cost you anything, you might even save money on tea bags for the office.
You can also make bigger statements to your employees, while staying within your budget. To take a look at these, we're going to look at some fresh company perk ideas that range in financial and time commitments – so you can find the ones that work you and your company.
10 fresh ideas for company perks
1. L&D budget
As we’ve already alluded to, investing in your employee’s skills and qualification can have endless benefits. Put simply, having more skilled employees is a good thing for your organisation. If your benefits package is already strong, they aren’t likely to take their talents elsewhere once you’ve trained them too.
Furthermore, employees are likely to have higher job satisfaction and motivation if their organisation is investing in their professional development. This can improve engagement, bringing with it many of its own positives.
We're seeing a shift in how businesses think about their Learning and Development budgets, with larger budgets being observed across the business world in 2019. LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning & Development Report concluded that L&D budgets were no longer a major issue for the large majority of departments. Make sure your organisation’s L&D team are well funded and enjoy the same benefits.
2. Salary sacrifice scheme
These are clever benefits that require employees to agree to certain amounts of their salary being replaced by, for example, funds to lease a low-emission car. The benefit here is that both the employee and employer receive and pay less in taxable salaries.
Private healthcare plans are another successful salary sacrifice benefit. Health cash plans can range from affordable to eye-watering, so you can tailor these to fit your needs.
Salary sacrifice means that both parties can save money while fostering a positive relationship that encourages the employee to look after themselves.
3. Mental wellbeing support
We’ve highlighted a number of times how important mental wellbeing is to your workforce, both from your employees’ personal perspective and your financial one too. Having on-call counsellors or access to therapy are some ways to reduce the financial burden mental health support can incur.
Employee Assistance Programmes are a great way to offer this to your employees. This is a confidential service that gives employees someone to talk to in confidence, to ease any kind of stress or concern. EAPs can offer 24/7 confidential assistance and let employers help their people in a way that employees find comfortable. Find out more about how Perkbox can help support employees' mental wellbeing.
For a low-cost option, you can look at regular group meditation and mindfulness sessions. These bring employees’ focus onto their inner state, which is a good first step to mental health.
4. Monthly lunches
Another relatively low-cost option, depending on what your taste is like. Cultures throughout history have bonded over lunch. It’s no different in business culture. It’s a great opportunity to both show your employees you value and reward them, while strengthening their relationships with each other. Send over a voucher to use in their favourite restaurant, or to keep costs down you can host themed potlucks - either way a free lunch will get people together, away from their work and help boost morale in the workplace.
5. Free soft and alcoholic drinks
It’s Friday afternoon and you’re just about to finish this week’s deadline. How good would it be to turn this miniature struggle into a miniature celebration. Or at least relax a little bit more because it’s finally the weekend. This is where you crack open a cold one or some fizzy juice to just take the edge off.
It may seem small, but providing your employees with access to home comforts like this helps to create a happy company culture and a relaxed yet focused work environment. This is one of those low-cost perks that still makes a difference.
6. A day off for your birthday
Who wants to work on their birthday? This is another nice perk that won’t break the bank. Instead, it’s a nice touch that allows your employees to relax and enjoy themselves on their special day. They will thank you for it.
7. Cinema tickets
Letting off steam can take many forms. And, believe it or not, they don’t all have to involve sweat or alcohol. A great option to offer employees is deals for the cinema, or simply free tickets, in their perks selection. By letting employees choose what they want to see, there's an option for everyone and it's something that can be enjoyed with family and friends.
This perk can be relatively low-cost and contribute to employees feeling looked after, but also feel like a real treat.
8. Cycle-to-work scheme
Cycling to work brings with it a number of benefits. Most importantly, your employees stay fit and their carbon footprint is reduced. Cycle-to-work schemes are often offered as a salary sacrifice, as the initial cost of purchasing a bike and proper equipment can set a company back a fair amount. However, don’t let this discourage you. Making it easier for employees to cycle to work can start with just supplying a bike maintenance station at work.
This perk is proving very popular for businesses in central locations. As an employer, whatever you do to make this easier will be greatly appreciated by your employees.
9. Discounts on local restaurants
Who doesn't enjoy going out for food? It's something that your employees are most likely doing anyway, so why not help them make it a bit cheaper! Offering discounts to nearby businesses is a great perk and helps to stretch salaries.
At Perkbox we've got a range of local discounts as well as global ones, and this includes restaurants, cafes and the like. Meanwhile, our Flexi Perks allow employees to grab themselves an Uber Eats voucher at zero cost to them. Why pay full price for a full stomach?
10. Weekly free coffee
Another one to consider if your budget isn’t stratospheric. Or, even if it is, it’s probably understated just how much of a contribution great coffee makes to businesses worldwide. You’re doing yourself a favour by giving your team access to caffeine. Give them a break from the instant coffee in the staff room and treat them to a coffee from their favourite coffee shop instead.
Ensure there's something for everyone with Perkbox
If you’re looking for an offering like this and then some, it’s worth having a squint at the Perkbox platform. There are a range of perks for all budgets and business sizes. Plus, the huge array of choice on the platform means there's something to suit every individual's needs and lifestyle.
Offering perks that align with your company culture is a great way to get your employees to buy into your organisation’s overall mission. And in the fast-moving world of company perks, using a platform that stays ahead of the game and offers fresh perks is crucial.
What benefits should you offer?
As we mentioned earlier, perks come in all different shapes and sizes - much like workforces. This means there isn't a one size fits all approach to employee benefits. For example, if you've got a relatively young workforce, they may be super interested in things like pub vouchers and free cinema tickets. On the other hand, if you've got a slightly older workforce, they may be more interested in salary sacrifice schemes that help with bigger purchases.
If you put together an employee benefits selection that doesn't actually benefit your employees – meaning they don't find any value in the benefits or they find them difficult to use – you could actually end up doing more harm than good. The employees will become resentful and feel that their employer doesn't care.
Instead, talk to your employees and find out what they like and dislike about your current perks offering. Ask what they might like to see in the future and what could make their lives easier. This way your employees feel valued and you create a strong offering which benefits all involved.
So there we have it. It’s doesn't take a genius to know that offering perks is a win-win. Your employees’ wellbeing improves, and that massively benefits your organisation.