Employee benefits – schemes such as discounted gym membership, the cycle to work scheme, workplace nursery provision, health insurance and more – they are for major companies aren’t they?
To have these schemes, you need lots of employees, you need the staff who can oversee the admin, surely they aren’t for smaller businesses.
Except, however, they are.
Employee benefits aren’t just suitable for smaller businesses, they are also becoming increasingly essential. With a huge surge in the number of SMEs who provide workplace benefits, those who don’t are starting to stand out – and not in a good way.
Research shows that in 2020, a staggering 47% of UK small and medium-sized enterprises introduced additional employee benefits.
Last year was, of course, far from a normal year and many of these benefits were brought in to help people work from home and manage to stay productive whilst also battling with issues such as lockdown and homeschooling.
Nevertheless, the surge in employee benefits demonstrates that businesses of all sizes are seeing employee needs as a key priority and taking steps to help people create that difficult work-life balance.
We have seen in previous posts that employees value benefits almost as much as salary in that a package of employee benefits can lead to increased loyalty and staff retention in a way that a salary increase cannot.
It is also often not practical or possible to offer salary increases, however benefits typically cost the business nothing and can even lead to savings against National Insurance.
Just as importantly, the benefits also just make people’s lives that bit easier. In 2020, this often referred to working from home – help with flexible working or technology, but the benefits can go far beyond this.
With the majority of employees not keen to return to full-time office work, instead wishing to work from home at least for part of the week, benefits are only going to grow in importance as there is less face-to-face interaction.
The value for employers is not only in helping to keep staff motivated and to make their life that bit easier, but also that they are increasingly a must-have for employees.
If everyone else is offering a suite of benefits that make it easier to work from home and to save money on a range of services, then, all other things being equal, they will be more appealing to work for.
We should start with a caveat. There is a danger in having too much of a top-down approach, listing the benefits that employees tend to value and then implementing these.
While there are some benefits that would be of value to any workplace, for instance the Employee Assistance Programme, this provides a 24/7 confidential counselling service for any issues that may be impacting an employee.
Other benefits might vary by the make-up of the workforce, for instance workplace nursery provision would be of little use if no employees actually have young children.
There can also be a danger of someone choosing benefits and having a natural bias to the things they would use, another problem we see is that businesses set up benefits form then staff they have, but not the ones they wish to gain in future.
If, for example, there is a desire to recruit talented young graduates, then the benefits offered need to appeal to this group.
During the pandemic, we have seen benefits linked to flexible working rise in importance, and scheme such as the holiday exchange scheme. During the summer and autumn, the cycle to work scheme surged in popularity.
These will stay important, but a company should not plan their entire benefits strategy around the pandemic as things will change again and other benefits will rise in prominence as we return to something more akin to the old ‘normal’.
A better strategy for the long term can be to set up a suite of benefits that offers something for everyone, including those you would wish to join in future.
For the smaller business, setting up employee benefits can sound a huge challenge, especially when the days are full with tasks related to the core business.
Employee benefits might seem a nice to have, but one that will be hard to prioritise.
Working with a workplace benefit expert can solve this problem. The benefits can be set up and an online hub created so that employees are empowered to make their own choices, without the creation of an administrative burden for the company.
Perhaps best of all, this service still saves the company money, as they save against N.I.
Rather than agonising over which benefits to set up, an expert could work with your employees to find the benefits that would be suitable, and then oversee the implementation. It is a hands off process for the business owner.
At Enjoy Benefits, we have great experience in helping companies of all sizes introduce benefits that are suitable for their workplace.
Benefits are easy to set up and ongoing administration is then run through a hub, this allowing employees to manage their own benefits while the employer can see which benefits are proving popular and what level of take-up each has had.
If you would like an obligation free chat to discuss which benefits might work for your business and your employees, please contact us by calling 0800 088 7315 or using our Contact Form.