Why are employee benefits important?
When it comes to hiring new staff, the question of who will be a right fit is paramount. Employers are looking for someone with the right skills, the right work ethic, and who meshes well with their current employees. But prospective employees also have a few questions and expectations of their own — half of UK workers have noted that benefits in the workplace would help make them feel happier at work.
In this article, we will explore what employee perks people today are seeking the most, as well as how you can provide them.
Health and wellness benefits
According to Forbes, one of the key areas people want their employers to deliver on is health and well-being. It makes sense; we spend so much of our time at work, it’s understandable that we want that place to be a healthy environment for us!
The idea of wellness and health stretches across so many potential perks employers can provide, including:
- Mental health days — The Mental Health Foundation has posited that the UK workforce could benefit from an allowance of two mental health days per year. This is based on the fact that, as a nation, we are chronic over-workers who tend to fall foul of presenteeism; showing up for work sick or working far beyond our contracted hours in fear that taking a sick day or leaving on time makes us look lazy or less dedicated to our employers.
It is worth considering that while mental health problems are cited as the fourth most common reason for a sick day, 45 per cent of people said they would make up a different reason for their absence in the event of it being mental health related. This stigma means that mental health sick days are probably a lot more common than we realise. By having two days allowance specifically for mental health and wellbeing, employees will be assured by the fact that their employers are taking their mental as well as physical health on board.
- Health sessions such as yoga or meditation — Fitting in a session at the gym before or after work can be a pain. But, by providing the sessions in the hour before or after work, it’s much easier for employees to plan their exercise around their work life without worrying about running late from the gym to work!
Plus, these sessions can be a great way to manage stress within the workplace, allowing employees time away from their desks to unwind for a moment.
- Cycle to Work scheme — This next one tackles the need for health benefits and a dedicated response to greener methods. The Cycle to Work scheme is a great way to help employees lower their fuel costs, their carbon footprint, as well as increasing their fitness and health. By offering the Cycle to Work scheme at your workplace, your employees can buy electric bikes, cycle equipment, and cycle clothing tax-free and pay it off through salary sacrificed over the year.
Flexibility is a key element for many employees in this busy day and age. Fitting in family life, appointments, life events — simply having a few hours leeway on a morning or evening can really make a difference in terms of planning things like doctor’s appointments. In fact, according to a 2017 survey by Timewise, 60 per cent of UK professionals wanted to have a range of flexible working options available to them, and 70 per cent said their managers needed to support this need for a work/life balance.
Interestingly, employees are open to the idea of giving up perks in exchange for seasonal-specific perks. For example, while a Reed survey found 40 per cent of UK workers valued free tea and coffee as their best perk, over a third said they’d swap up those precious cups of tea and coffee in the summer for free ice cream or having a more relaxed summer dress code.
With this in mind, it’s clear the British public really hate to waste the rare sunshine over the summer. Employers can tailor perks to suit these special days! Free ice-cream on particularly sunny days can make for a great vibe in the office.
Summer hours are particularly popular for workers, with one study finding 41 per cent of workers hoping for this perk to be introduced. Kellogg’s Manchester office has run such a scheme since last year, where its employees are allowed to leave at 12pm on Fridays if they have already completed a full week’s worth of working hours. According to Kellogg’s UK HR director, allowing their employees this enviable perk encourages them to work 21 per cent harder.
It’s clear then that a happy worker is a hard worker. What perks could your office introduce?