Benefits? I’m sold.
It’s true. There’s a reason many of us accept our status as human capital, and that’s because there are benefits to working like a dog from time to time.
A benefits system is made up of a range of extra incentives to help motivate and encourage employees in the workplace. This can be anything from a free dental care plan, a pension scheme, flexible working hours, to a lifetime supply of McVitie’s biscuits.
While a lifetime supply of biscuits should, of course, be standard, it’s not a core benefit. Core benefits are legally required benefits and should be distinguished from optional company rewards, otherwise known as company perks or, sometimes, trivial benefits.
In the UK, employees are legally entitled to some form of workplace pension scheme, income protection and holiday allowance (a minimum of 5.6 weeks per year).
It should be noted that a benefits system is not necessarily the same as a rewards system. A rewards system may only provide certain perks when a particular criterion is met, whereas a benefits system is usually made up of things which are unconditionally offered to employees, simply as a thank you for them working for the company.
All good companies know that a good benefits system is one of the most important tenets to any business strategy. Why? Because it helps keep employees happy, and happy employees get positive results.
There’s a reason why jobseekers will take a job with a lower salary because the perks are more attractive: sometimes your wage isn’t enough to keep you inspired nor content in your position at work.
While the big capital might make you believe that everyone is hardwired to pursue money, money and more money, it’s not true. Wellbeing is actually pretty important too! And having a sound, up-to-date benefits system could increase your workforce wellbeing and improve your company culture tenfold.
That said, it’s all well and good having a benefits system in place, but if none of the benefits appeal to your employees, what’s the point in having one?
Funnily enough, Perkbox are pros at perks in the workplace – we may have won an award *cough cough*. We know a thing or two about incentivising employees to work hard and stay put in their job. You want your employees to enjoy their benefits, right? So give them something they actually need or will benefit from.
Where is your company based? How do your employees get to work? Maybe you can have a benefit that will help your employees with their commute.
For companies with… let’s say more than 100 employees, you can find out this kind of information by sending out a short poll in an email. For smaller firms, you could simply ask in person. If you opt to take the poll route, find out whether your employees walk, cycle, take public transport, drive or use some form of alternative commuting method, e.g. transport by space hopper.
If you find that the majority of your employees cycle to work, it may be a good idea to have a cycle to work scheme at your company. If you don’t know what a cycle to work scheme is, here’s a quick definition: the scheme allows employers to loan cycles and cyclists' safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit.
It was actually introduced by the government in the UK relatively recently in an effort to help combat climate change and rising CO2 levels. If you’re an environmentally conscious company, this is well recommended!
On the other hand, if you find that the majority of your employees are taking public transport and it’s costing them a fortune, help them out a little with subsidised travel. This is a contribution to their travel costs. Plan your travel benefits by making use of discounts with the major transport providers in your area.
Alternatively, if your company is based in a remote area, or your employees are required to travel extensively for the job, provide them with a company car.
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock lately has probably noticed that the wellness industry is booming. The benefits of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle are limitless. Learn how to do it for yourself here.
A few good options to consider are offering either a free or subsidised gym membership for employers, organising corporate yoga classes for employees, or providing meditation courses or wellness programmes.
At Perkbox, for example, we provide hundreds of online wellness incentives, including access to online fitness classes, as well as discounted gym memberships. Our featured gyms include Total Fitness, Fitness First, Virgin Active and Pure Gym, to name a few.
A few other companies have jumped on board the wellness train too, incorporating wellbeing services into their benefits system. Genentech have a free onsite spa for employees (and their cars – they have a car-washing service too), while Airbnb provides free vacation. If a free holiday isn’t good for your wellbeing, I don’t know what is.
On a more realistic level, though, most companies only really have the budget for gyms and various fitness classes.
This is maybe another time where polls will come in handy – we know how much you love polls. Find out what kind of things your employees would benefit from most. Maybe the demographic you’re dealing with aren’t interested in becoming gym bunnies and would rather something like an Employee Assistance Programme – offering counselling support and wellbeing advice – instead.
With the above in mind, employees might not really be after excuses to wear their new gym leggings, nor a fancy company car. They might just want, you know, a bit of good company.
A great company benefit is the simple perk of being able to hang out with great people. However, often we’re so busy beavering away at our desks, we don’t really get a chance to look up and enjoy our neighbouring colleague's fabulous sense of humour.
Company events and social outings are super ways to improve company culture. They enable employees to get to know each other outside the office environment, when they’re able to blow off some steam, and to properly have a good old natter.
Social life benefits don’t necessarily have to be related to work though. These might come in the form of dinner or drinks vouchers for local restaurants, vouchers employees can treat their family with for example.
Another thing to consider when putting together your benefits system is training. Moving away from traditional ideas of training, why not think outside the box? Of course, you can always get better with coaching and mentoring within your sector, but what about going outside of your sector?
There are many benefits to trying new things and gaining insights into other areas of expertise. It keeps us open and interested as human beings - it’s a sad day when we lose all curiosity, also widely known as adulthood.
Give your employees something new to learn. All skills can be transferable! Have a few fun E-learning courses, like photography, creative writing, or how to use a particular design suite. Alternatively, what about providing cooking classes or reduced membership to a local cinema club?
These are all great things that will encourage employees to use their brains in a different way. Exercising the mind and keeping it active will have a great influence on their work ethic and general wellbeing.
Alternative perks like training programmes with a twist will nurture their minds while adding a new string to their bow.
A final thing to consider is the domestic and family life of your employees. Maybe a few members of your workforce recently had children. Flexible hours might be appreciated, so they don’t miss out on some of those special moments.
Also, incase you haven't heard, babies are expensive. Something a new mum or dad would certainly appreciate is childcare vouchers. Lots of companies already do offer childcare and parental support as a benefit. Netflix, for example, offer unlimited parental leave.
Alternatively, if you’re a larger corporation with a chunkier budget, you may consider funding for schools or universities. Starbucks provide full tuition reimbursement for their employees, so their children don’t have to worry about paying back any scary university loans.
Life insurance and pension schemes are also things to consider. While the benefits scheme will make your employees want to stay working for you, they’ll still want to be prepared for post-work-life too.
Providing a pension scheme will relieve any stress related to finishing work and going on that long dreamed of trek across the globe.
Haven’t asked your boss about your benefits package in a while? You should. Although many companies will state a list of benefits in their job description or employment contract, not all do.
We recommend that you ask what benefits are included at a company before accepting a job there, as a good benefits system can ultimately change your entire experience of the job.
Likewise, asking beforehand may enable you to negotiate which benefits are best for you. For instance, maybe your company has a whole plethora of benefits, but not everyone is entitled to each perk. Which ones would benefit you most?
With the above in mind, companies should be more vocal about their benefits system. For starters, attractive benefits systems make companies much more appealing to job seekers. It's also really rewarding for employees to know what they could actually receive, other than their paycheque, for their time spent at the company.
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