While an increasing number of employers are utilising workplace benefits as a way to increase staff motivation and retention (not to mention enjoying NI reductions), many still offer benefits that are too closely grouped together.
Often the issue stems from a perception of what staff want, or through those in charge of benefits being overly focussed on benefits they would find appealing.
This isn’t necessarily through any desire to pick benefits only they would use, it is a natural result of making decisions based on assumptions.
The problem however is that staff perks that should be beneficial to all can actually become divisive. Rather than providing everyone with an opportunity to save money and time, they can end up being of use just to a select few. Rather than motivating all staff, it can potentially have the opposite effect on some.
To quote the saying, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, however the aim should be to at least please all of the people some of the time, rather than some of the people all of the time.
A suite of benefits should be just that, an offer that appeals to a broad base rather than a select few.
In society, there is often a focus on fitness. Every town centre has multiple gyms, there are endless diet products, there is pressure to get fit and then stay fit.
At any workplace, it is a fair assumption that a good proportion of the workforce engage in regular exercise, whether that is trips to the gym, jogs and walks, playing sport or cycling to and from work.
A number of workplace benefits tie into this strive for fitness and make it easier for employees to stay fit and save money in the process.
Many employers offer discounted gym memberships, savings made as the fees come out as a salary sacrifice. Cycle to work schemes are also hugely popular – in fact these are two of the most common benefits on offer.
For anyone taking advantage of both schemes, the savings can run to hundreds of pounds per year, there are other benefits too, not least that having employees enjoying discounted membership at the same gym helps build friendly relationships outside of work.
However, we have seen examples of employers who have thought of nothing but personal fitness when offering benefits. It might be that the person in charge of choosing benefits is a bit of a gym buff, they might find it hard to believe that these benefits won’t be of use.
Often, though, people don’t have the time or inclination to go to the gym, this particular benefit then being of no interest. Cycling to work, even if it might appeal, is perhaps impractical – cycling back from work isn’t much good if you have to pick up two young children from nursery.
Benefits relating to health and fitness will always be popular, they might be the most popular benefits, but they will also never be universally popular. If all they seem to do is offer savings to some and create a team culture that others are not part of then they might be self-defeating.
A similar problem, but potentially with a different group of people.
Many benefits tend to be of greater appeal to those with families. A workplace nursery scheme is an obvious example, this a partnership with a local nursery that can save parents many thousands of pounds per year (this because fees are paid as salary sacrifice).
The Holiday Exchange Scheme, while open to all, often appeals mostly to working parents. This scheme allows any employee to either buy or sell a week’s holiday, often the majority of those taking advantage are parents looking for an extra week to cover school holidays.
Health insurance offers might also tend to favour families. Dental and medical health insurance is of benefit to all, but often these are items people really consider once they have a family, not least because the savings can take on greater significance.
While working families might be the key beneficiary of benefits in some workpkaces, in others they struggle for a look in.
Some focus on lifestyle benefits – Dining Clubs, entertainment offers, all things that those with children might struggle to take advantage of. Date nights can be a thing of the past for those with young families!
A sense that other employees are saving a fortune on nights out, while you’re not even getting a night out might not cause jealousy, but it might do little to boost your own morale. How about a bit of help here!
The three examples above – and we could labour the point with further examples – show what can go wrong but also hint at how easy a problem this is to solve.
All any employer has to do is offer a range of benefits, these with something (hopefully lots of things) for everyone.
One great tactic can be to get employees excited pre arrival of the benefits – why not ask people to email ideas for the benefits they would value, or get them to vote on their favourites. Given how easy the benefits are to set up, you could easily then add all that get any interest.
A balanced suite of benefits is only working if there are options that genuinely include something for every single member of staff. That isn’t to say all members will take advantage of benefits, some simply don’t get round to it, but nobody will feel they don’t have the option to enjoy benefits.
Setting up all those benefits might sound time consuming, both in the set-up and then ongoing administration. It might also sound expensive.
Neither of these two problems has to be the case – if you entrust a workplace benefits expert such as Enjoy Benefits we can help you set up a suite of benefits and ensure smooth running through a centralised hub.
The benefits will save the business and employees money, the business benefitting through reduced national insurance contributions. A further benefit is that staff retention and motivation tend to be higher – it might be hard to offer salary rises, but benefits can have an equivalent effect.
We work with companies of all sizes across the UK. For an obligation free conversation about workplace benefits at your company, please contact us today on 0800 088 7315 or use our Contact Form.