Maximising employee benefits

happy workforce

Mitch Lea from Wagemate provides practical advice on how employers can maximise employee benefits in order to motivate and retain staff to achieve maximum return.

Many business owners today offer employee benefits as a way of motivating and retaining staff. In order to provide the best employee benefits and get maximum return, it’s important to consider what you offer. Determining the most effective benefits package for your employees will involve assessing various factors, including:

Geographical location

The physical location of your workplace, the distance employees travel and the connecting transport links should contribute to employee benefit decisions. For example, commuting benefits like cycle-to-work schemes are popular, but they are not appropriate if employees have to use motorways or if you are located on a remote industrial estate. Public transport season tickets or cars might be more appreciated by your staff in these cases.

Demographics

The average age of your employees may affect the types of benefits they desire. A US study by MassMutual Financial Group found older employees to value healthcare and pension-related benefits the most, while millennials preferred flexible working, education and training. Interestingly, all age groups rated increased annual leave highly for employee benefits. It would therefore be advantageous to tailor your employee benefits package according to your staff demographic, or provide various options that will appeal to everyone.

Personal circumstances

Regardless of their age, your employees may seek certain benefits based on their situations at home. Anyone who has children – especially those on lower incomes – may be interested in benefits such as childcare support. Equally, those on higher incomes may be interested in opportunities to invest in stocks or shares, or even support a chosen charity. 

Just ask

Simply asking your employees what they would be interested in and find valuable will provide a diving board for your research. You can either circulate an employee survey, ask candidates during job interviews or hold team meetings – all will give you the feedback you need.

Tailored offerings

You can use this information to design the most useful employee benefits package for your business. You might offer a core package, with the same benefits made available to everyone. Alternatively, you could provide flexible packages that enable employees to choose, for instance, 5 benefits out of a possible 10. This provides individuals with tailored benefits in a cost-effective way for the business. 

Employee feedback may also influence whether you offer salary sacrifice or flexible benefit plans. The former involves employees agreeing to give up part of their salary in return for a benefit, which is normally exempt from tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC) for both parties. Voluntary benefits involve the employer securing a deal or discount with a company – this might be a restaurant chain or supermarket, cinema pass or clothing retailer – and then employees have the option to use the discount when buying products and services, or not. 

Suppliers

It’s important to work with a supplier you trust to provide all the promised benefits and support that your employees may need. Doing your research and seeking testimonials from other companies and their employees will help you make the right decision. In some cases, you may even choose to work with more than one.

Employee benefits tend to be highly valued by staff – get your package right and you’ll soon reap the rewards.

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