Why have workplace benefits? There are many reasons cited, all valid, but we’re going to focus on one that is perhaps not mentioned as much as it should be.
The benefit of benefits is that they can help to make the workplace more inclusive, this a hugely important target for every business and organisation.
Many industries traditionally struggle for inclusivity with a workforce that is predominantly made up of certain groups. It may be, for instance, that women are under represented or people from certain backgrounds or ethnicities.
Workplace benefits alone cannot solve this, but they can help to make the workplace that bit more inclusive and also start the process of change that can make a positive difference.
How is this achieved?
An obvious starting point is to think of areas the workplace is under represented and then think why this might be, and if benefits could be advantageous.
Using the example of women, has there been difficulty either hiring or retaining working mothers? Does the business do enough to help them balance the roles of being a parent and an employee?
Benefits can help – there are workplace nursery schemes, these help to provide affordable childcare at an excellent local nursery, an employee can save hundreds of pounds per month and so there becomes more financial sense in returning to work.
It may also be that the working mother or parent just requires that bit more flexibility – a scheme such as the Holiday Exchange Programme would allow them to buy an extra week’s holiday, thus making it easier to cope during school holidays.
You can carry out this thought process to think of how benefits might appeal to others – young graduates, older workers or other.
It is also important to ask people what they would find valuable as a benefit, rather than trying to top-down set up schemes in the hope they are the right ones.
This would not even have to be phrased in the terms of employee benefits, after all a lot of people might have a mental blank if you asked them which workplace benefits they would like added.
Instead, it is just finding out what would make it easier for people. How could we make work that bit easier for you; thought can then be given as to whether there are workplace benefits that can help.
Obviously, if you are struggling to recruit or retain some groups of worker, they might not be available to then query – you can’t interview non-existent employees.
However, exit interviews can help, an open and honest chance to discuss if anything more could have been done by the organisation to make things easier for the person leaving, are there things that, in hindsight, might have persuaded them to stay.
If you are trying to find the workplace benefits that would appeal to a group you don’t currently employ, then research will be required – this could be through a research agency, although most experts in employee benefits will have this information to hand.
Certainly, we could advise you on creating a suite of benefits that would appeal to all groups of people.
The company or organisation must also create a culture whereby people are encouraged to sign up for and use employee benefits.
All too often employees feel reluctant to sign up for benefits because they believe – often mistakenly – that they will be looked down upon, that signing up for benefits demonstrates a lack of commitment to work.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought home the truth that everyone has to balance work with other priorities and so allowances will always have to be made.
Employers can demonstrate that employees are encouraged to sign up for benefits by having people act as advocates for the benefits, talking about the benefits they have had from them. The senior management can let it be known that they have benefitted – maybe they too have found workplace nursery provision to be hugely helpful.
Incredibly, it can be that simple awareness is also an issue. The benefits are in place but employees simply aren’t aware. Research shows that most new recruits join a company with no knowledge of the benefits in place – they are not mentioned in the recruitment process at any stage.
If you don’t shout about them, how can you expect people to know to sign up? And, if they don’t sign up, they might then later leave the company when they otherwise might have been persuaded to stay.
By simply giving more thought to benefits, it is possible to make a profound difference. Forbes recently profiled an architect firm who have seen female employees increase from 10% of the workforce to half – simply engaging in workplace benefits key to this move towards equality.
The benefits, as the article suggests, are obvious. Not only is a more diverse workforce more creative and more in-tune with client needs, but the cost of staff recruitment is also greatly reduced.
Rather than having talented women continually leave after relatively short stints, they can now keep these employees – there is no need to recruit anew, train these new recruits and also suffer the drip, drip, drip impact of experience walking out the door.
Financially, it also makes sense to work hard to keep experienced employees, even if this means some investment in benefits. It can cost the equivalent of six months’ salary to recruit someone, and then another six months to train them up – this is a huge expense compared to simply doing that bit more to keep people in the first place.
Workplace benefits are not just a nice to have, they help retain staff and create a more inclusive workplace – or at least they do when implemented with care.
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.