In the current climate, with the cost of living skyrocketing, many employees will understandably be looking for a pay rise to make ends meet…
But for many employers, offering company-wide pay raises at the level needed to keep up with inflation just isn’t feasible. Instead, employers can start looking at the benefits they are offering their employees. In a new study of employee remuneration and working practices, Boundless found that 85 per cent of employees are strongly influenced by the quality of an employer’s benefits offering when considering whether to take a new job. Offering the right benefits can help aid retention and improve the attractiveness of a company to new and prospective employees.
Read on to find out what top benefits employers should consider offering, and which candidates are likely to be requesting in the coming months.
1. Mental health and wellbeing support
Possibly one of the most valued benefits that employees have been requesting historically is enhanced mental health and wellbeing support, and this is expected to become increasingly popular in the coming months. Interestingly, recent polling has found that, while 70% of employers agree that they address employees’ emotional health extremely well, only 47% of employees say their organization offers adequate mental health support. This indicates a disconnect between the level of support employers feel they are providing, versus the actual attitudes of employees. Employers should therefore consider offering more comprehensive, long-term mental health and wellbeing support to their employees in order to ensure they are truly catering to the essential needs of their staff.
2. Financial advice
As with mental health and wellbeing support, offering the benefit of professional financial advice is equally as desirable in the current climate, as employees are looking for trustworthy advice on where to be investing, managing debts and bills, and generally looking for ways to make their money go further. Providing group financial well-being sessions with a financial is a benefit that Heat have found extremely popular with staff, and will likely become increasingly popular.
3. Cycle-to-work scheme
With the cost of fuel and transport becoming an increasing concern for commuters, one solution that employers can offer their staff if they aren’t already would be the introduction of a cycle-to-work scheme. The scheme has been around for a while, but now is the perfect time to start utilising it if you haven’t already, given that the cost of transport is ever-increasing and accounts for a considerable portion of office-working employees’ outgoings. The scheme is a ‘salary sacrifice’ employee benefit, meaning that the employee agrees to give up part of their salary in exchange for the benefit. Not only does this offer a solution to the cost of commuting, but it also has environmental benefits, offering a greener mode of transportation.
4. Subsidised food
Another trending benefit in the current climate is subsidised food. A little can go a long way to help with retention and attraction, as surveys have found that 67% of employees who have free food at work class themselves as “extremely happy” or “very happy.” Offering a free breakfast or lunch option for employees is definitely a cost-effective way to offer value and a partial solution for staff. Even offering free fruit, tea, and coffee if you don’t already, or investing in a barista-quality coffee machine for the team, is a morale booster and valued benefit for many.
5. Four-day work week
The official trial of the four-day working week has been a hot topic, with many businesses taking the opportunity to test the idea out for themselves. Many firms have actually found that the move has boosted employee productivity: “Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand firm trialled a four-day week. The results found that 78% of employees could more effectively balance their work and home life. This was compared to 54% prior to the experiment.”
Equally, in terms of attraction and retention, this benefit in particular is proving extremely popular for prospective job seekers: research shows that 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and keep quality staff with a four-day working week. So, if companies are curious about the possibility of trialing this and are in a position to provide to do so, this will definitely help them to stand out in a wildly competitive market.
6. Flexibility and hybrid/remote working options
You’d think that flexibility has become so commonplace in businesses post-pandemic that it can barely be recognised as a desirable benefit anymore. But, in reality, it’s surprising how many companies are failing to offer it. If you’re one of those businesses that haven’t yet pivoted to offer flexible and hybrid/remote working as standard, you’re falling massively behind other businesses and will undoubtedly be losing out on quality candidates. People expect flexibility and accommodation of their working requirements as standard now, and employers need to be prepared to offer these or they can expect to lose out on employees.
7. Unlimited and enforced holiday
Recently, a lot of companies have trialled offering unlimited holiday days as a benefit. In theory, this is an extremely desirable benefit to be offering. But, in reality, it was shown to be ineffective, as employees actually wound up taking less holiday than they would have with a set number of days. The pressure of most work cultures to appear committed to their work meant that people were taking far fewer days off than they would’ve had they been given a set number of days to take. However, a great example of how to counter this issue and continue to offer an unlimited holiday allowance as a benefit was shown by UK fintech company Oakham, who managed to counteract the issues by not only offering unlimited holiday but also requiring their employees to take a minimum of 20 days off a year. If you’re considering, or are already offering unlimited holiday as a benefit, make sure you’re including a clause that enforces taking days off too in order to ensure your benefit is actually effective.
8. Enhanced maternity/paternity leave
For workers who are considering starting a family, working for a company that opts to offer enhanced maternity and paternity leave is a high priority. At Heat, we offer enhanced parental pay as standard, and we find this encourages new parents to take more time off work to bond with their child and be with their partner and family. Alongside our fully remote working policy, it also helps the well-being of our team and promotes a positive work-life balance.
So, whilst some of these benefits have stood the test of time to remain perpetually popular, it’s unsurprising that we are seeing the effects of the current climate and cost of living crisis having a knock-on effect on employee priorities when considering which benefits they are looking for, either from prospective or current employers. At a time when everyone is conscious of their spending and looking to cut costs, it’s easy to see why those benefits that offer solutions to these concerns are topping the list. Equally, you can also see the impact of the pandemic in the increased popularity of benefits such as flexibility, the 4-day working week model and unlimited/enforced holiday days, as shifting employee priorities have seen the collective workforce prize their personal lives equally- if not higher than- their professional ones.