October 22 2021

Benefits packages: Best perks to attract talent

Ready to invest the time and energy into creating a successful employee benefits package to attract talent? Then your business will reap the rewards. Read on as we share everything you need to know about creating a must-have package that job candidates will love. 

There’s no escaping the fact that COVID has had a significant impact on employment. With furlough schemes, reduced wages, and uncertainty around whether a job will exist post-pandemic, the challenges have been great. 

As businesses adapted to stay above water, employees faced significant change too, forcing employees to take stock. Working from home allowed employees to reassess and reflect on their priorities.

Now employees are coming back to the workplace with very different expectations. 

The Great Realisation  

For companies expecting to meet employee retention targets and secure the best new talent, it’s vital to understand the psychological changes that employees have experienced as a result of the pandemic. 

What was once viewed as an attractive employee benefits package is likely to be less attractive now to employees. As a result, employers need to re-think their offering to create a package that better reflects today’s employees.

In this article we’ll explore four key aspects of employee benefits packages. Read on for insights into how you can tailor your offering to create a successful benefits and rewards package that will satisfy candidates so that you can attract the best talent. 

1) Pay

Pay is the major player when it comes to the benefits and rewards offered by an employer, right? 

The salary you’re offering is a key consideration for candidates. For most people, the higher the salary, the more attractive the job. 

Securing the best candidate for your business is like winning gold at the Olympics. Substantial effort and investment is needed to prime your company to fight off the competition.

In 2020, a third of UK businesses froze pay while others cut the levels of pay on offer. In 2021, businesses have experienced a degree of recovery, but it’s not uniform across all sectors. A recent study revealed that starting salaries for employees are actually the highest they’ve been for 24 years

Does this mean that they are in a position to review the levels of pay that they offer?

As well as being subject to pay freezes, many employees were placed on furlough at the height of the pandemic. Reduced levels of pay will have only exacerbated any financial issues that they already had. 

What if your business can’t afford to increase pay?

Many businesses are still going through a recovery process and are not in a position to increase salaries. With this in mind, what can businesses offer in place of larger salaries? 

  • Annual leave purchase scheme 
  • Cycle to work scheme 
  • Season ticket loan scheme 
  • Reduced gym membership 
  • Discounts on days out or other leisure activities
  • Non-financial perks for example on-demand pay

With energy bills set to rise, and the cost of food and fuel spiralling, employees will be highly conscious of their financial citation. Candidates will value initiatives that allow their money to go further. 

2) Flexibility….and not just with your working hours  

Flexibility has always been a key consideration for employees. Flexibility with their start and finish times, their place of work, or the ability to vary their working hours to care for children during school holidays are critical for many employees. 

The impact of COVID has opened employees’ eyes and now many value flexibility even more. 

Breaking new ground with flexibility 

With employees seeking greater flexibility with their work, employers are ideally positioned to break new ground and offer a relatively new, yet exciting initiative. 

Companies are comfortable with offering flexibility when it comes to the way employees work, but flexibility when it comes to paying employees is now on the rise. 

On-demand pay is also called a salary advance, pay advance or earned wage access. Essentially on-demand pay allows an employee to access their earnings before payday. Typically this is to cover an unexpected expense. Learn more about how on-demand pay works.

In fact, on-demand pay doesn’t just tick the box when it comes to flexibility. Being able to decide when to get paid helps employees become less stressed about money. This can bring a much-needed boost to their financial wellbeing, which has a positive impact on employers as well as employees.

These plus points make it an attractive benefit to candidates who are craving financial flexibility. We’ll look more closely at on-demand pay as a financial wellbeing benefit later in this article.  

3) Mental wellbeing 

For a while now employers have supported the physical health of their employees. This has included offering benefits like medical cover, dental plans, and gym memberships. 

In recent years, the link between physical and mental health has been proven. Poor physical health often accompanies poor mental health, and vice-versa. 

Increased stress levels have led to an evolution in the benefits that employers offer to include support for employee mental wellbeing. 

There’s a wide range of mental wellbeing benefits out there, ranging from the more traditional Employee Assistance Programmes to the more modern approach where employees can access yoga sessions and wellbeing days. 

In reality though, these types of initiatives are merely scratching the surface when it comes to employee mental wellbeing. There’s so much more that can (and should) be done to support employees.

Why should your benefits package support employee mental health?

While working from home has been a positive experience for many, employers should bear in mind that this can mask problems. With a lack of interaction and no distinct boundaries between work and home, some employees will be suffering in silence. Businesses must ensure that regular communication takes place with those working from home. 

Understanding the impact of poor mental health highlights just why this should be a priority for your business.

Poor mental health leads to poor physical health, issues with relationships, and eventually results in burnout. 

Stressed, anxious or depressed employees aren’t good for business. Employees suffering with mental health issues are less productive and more likely to be absenteeism. And that’s not forgetting the human cost of poor mental health.

How can you join the mental wellbeing revolution?

The first step is to recognise the extent of any issues. COVID has led to people experiencing increased levels of stress and given that work is a major part of our lives, employers are in a great position to assist. 

So what should your company consider when choosing mental wellbeing benefits?

1. Mental wellbeing policy 

OK, so a policy alone isn’t going to directly support your employees’ mental health. But what a policy does is demonstrate your commitment to supporting employees. Communicating that employees can openly talk about their mental health issues without fear of being penalised is imperative. 

Until we can bring an end to the stigma associated with mental health, employees will continue to need reassurance that struggling emotionally won’t set them back at work. 

2. Mental health training for managers

Managers can be trained to spot potential issues with employees and support them. When they recognise an issue, the training will allow them to open up a discussion with that employee in a sensitive way. 

The key is for managers to make employees feel comfortable and safe when talking about their mental health. You can even train your managers or other key personnel to become mental health first aiders. 

3. Reward employees with feel-good benefits 

Offer your employees benefits that will help them feel good. This could be an internal, policy-driven initiative for example allowing your employees to buy additional annual leave so that they can relax and recharge. 

You can also provide access to digital wellbeing tools, like mindfulness and relaxation app subscriptions. Or consider a Christmas gift for staff like a spa day instead of organising a Christmas social event, which can be a financial burden for some. 

Communicating all the great things you’re doing to support your employees’ mental health can go a long way with candidates who are increasingly looking for mental health support from employers. 

4) Financial wellbeing 

We often assume that our wellbeing takes a hit if we’re overworked, dealing with relationship issues or perhaps a life event like moving house. But stress and anxiety is the result of many things, and money (or a lack of) is one of them. 

There is a clear link between mental wellbeing and financial wellbeing. One report shows that 39% of employees believe that money negatively affects their mental health. With 58% of employees reporting that they feel stressed about their finances, money worries are widespread.

The key take-away is that well over half of all workers are worrying about money – how they’re going to pay their bills, and if they have enough to tide them over. 

Worrying about money doesn’t disappear when work starts. In fact, financial stress is stopping many of your employees from bringing their A-game to their work.

Performance, productivity, and focus all suffer when employees are stressed about their finances.  

Now is the best time to implement a new financial wellbeing initiative 

Given that some 44% of employees are unsatisfied with their benefits and rewards, it’s the ideal time to reform your company’s package based on what employees need and want. 

The smartest employers are recognising that an employee benefit that combines flexibility with financial wellbeing support is likely to be well received. 

If you’re not convinced about the need to address your employee’s financial wellbeing, our article explaining how financial wellbeing relates to the workplace is a good place to start. 

Translating your benefits package into faster recruitment and increased retention 

With your new employee benefits and rewards package ready to go, how can you help your employees make the most of it? 

  • Communicate your benefits clearly and regularly to your employees. Help them understand what each benefit really means for them. 
  • Publicise your benefits on your recruitment adverts and mention them in your interview process. Don’t wait for candidates to ask, otherwise you could risk losing them to another company that is communicating its benefits package better than you. 
  • Don’t forget to give complete information to new starters about benefits on offer, so they don’t miss out. It’s imperative for the onboarding process that you follow-through with everything you promised during the recruitment phase. 
  • Monitor take-up using data analytics. Engage employees to understand the reasons why they haven’t taken up a benefit until now.
  • Try using a survey to get a clear picture of how your employees feel about the benefits they have access to. This will give you insights into which benefits are most popular and you can promote these to candidates. 
  • Highlight a benefit each month using internal communication channels so that employees have multiple opportunities to engage with it. 

Want to know more?

If your company is interested in providing a financial wellbeing benefit that costs you nothing and can help reduce financial stress among your employees, then get in touch.