What are the most sought-after employee perks and benefits?

Employee benefits has become one of the most important factors a candidate takes into consideration when looking for a new role or debating whether to accept a job offer. In fact, statistics from Employee Benefits show that when asked about employee perks, a whopping 72% of respondents said that they don’t currently receive any, despite 71% of people believing all businesses should offer them.

With the competitiveness of today’s job market, you need to remember that although it’s all very well expecting candidates to sell themselves to you with the perfect cover letter and CV, it’s also important that you sell your company to them. This is backed-up by the fact that, according to Employee Benefits, 62% of people consider workplace benefits to be a key factor in their job search.

Not necessarily a perk of the job, but inspiring your staff can be as good as any benefit you can offer and the team at the Office Design Company have put together a comprehensive guide on ways to inspire your staff – FULL GUIDE HERE

Additionally, despite it once being the norm for someone to stay with the same company most of their working life, people now have more different jobs in their lifetime than ever before. As statistics show, a typical worker today will change roles between 10 and 15 times (with 12 being the average amount).

However, despite the fact that 85% of people have said they’d rather receive a pay rise than any other additional workplace perk (if offered), a pay increase isn’t the only reason people chose to change jobs or move to a new company entirely. As Small Business explains, people who rate their work happiness levels at 2 out of 10 would consider changing jobs for better benefits.

Another reason that employees choose to leave jobs is because they want to progress in their current career path or take on a new role entirely. This is something that was experienced by Daniel Healy, Facilitator at Leading Teams. A few years ago, when Clara, the company’s Head of Marketing, expressed interest to move into a facilitator role.

He says: “Money isn’t everything in a job. Flexibility and opportunity are every bit, if not more, valuable.

“At Leading Teams, we believe in recognising our employees’ commitment and potential with opportunity and would do everything we can to hold on to a member of staff who has shown their ability to live our culture in everything they do. As an example, Clara, had limited facilitating experience, but after four years in the business she had a wealth of knowledge of our work.

“In her marketing role, Clara was most definitely willing and able. If we were to move her into a facilitator role she would move to willing, but initially unable in a facilitation sense. Her attitude would not change, but her ability to carry out her new role initially would be limited. She would need training and it would take time. And yes, we would have to find a marketing replacement for her.

“So, what to do? One option was to push back and remind Clara how good she was at her job and how important the role and her execution of it were to the organisation. Possibly even throw some more coin at her to keep her happy. And that might’ve worked…for a while. Our experience with clients in this situation though has suggested that it wouldn’t be long before Clara entered the unwilling but able category; that is, her level of engagement and desire to give discretionary effort would diminish relatively quickly. And/or she would simply leave us.

“I’m pleased to say that wasn’t the path we took. With the words of Richard Branson ringing in my ears “recruit on attitude and train them up”, we jumped at the chance to give Clara a go. Like Branson, our belief is that a strong willingness will trump technical skill every time.”

This indicates that employee perks aren’t just vital for retaining your existing members of staff; they’re also a key part of attracting new ones to your company! So, what are the world’s biggest organisations doing to ensure their roles stand out above the rest?

At Facebook, free food, gym memberships, and travel reimbursement are all provided, as well as ‘baby cash’ to help with the cost of newborns. At Quibit, employee benefits range from health insurance, to weekly yoga, meditation, and Pilates classes. However, the lucky workers at TransferWise are treated to all-expenses-paid company holidays each year, while in the Buzzfeed UK offices, staff can expect to see performances from some of Britain’s best musical acts every Thursday.

Shelley Breen Head of People & Culture at Omni Wealth, says: “In a recent internal survey, we found that employee are in fact not that interested in financial reward so much as they are interested in work/life balance and study support. We therefore offer study assistance to all of our permanent employees, as well as flexible work arrangements and a modern primary carer leave policy for those considering starting a family.”

Kaylyn Jeffrey, HR Manager at Service.com.au, adds: “People value experience most in the workplace. If you want to create a healthy company culture where people want to be productive and engaged, you must create a good experience for them. This ranges from respectful and genuinely kind treatment, to brand-based office design. Employees want to work in a good environment where they actually want to be for 8 hours of the day.”

Although some of these perks and opportunities are a tad trickier for smaller businesses to provide, most people will be satisfied to receive more ‘basic’ employee benefits, such as flexible working hours, and more time off. Here are 5 of the most sought-after employee perks and benefits UK businesses can offer…

Flexible working

“Offering flexible working hours and the ability to work from home occasionally is great for parents, as well as anyone that needs to attend important doctors or dentist appointments during working hours.” – Debbie Aurelius, Peppermint Fish

According to Employee Benefits, flexible working is the top employee benefit that’s sought-after, with 47% of respondents saying that they’d like to receive it.

Virginia Brown, Account Manager at The Atticisim, says: A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace. A Gallup poll also found that 37% of respondents have enjoyed worked virtually.”

Eugenia Boldyrikhina, a digital marketer from Delta Growth adds fuel to the flexible fire “One of the greatest benefits an employer can give is a work from home option. It saves time in the morning to get ready, reducing commuting (and congestion/pollution), and it saves costs like fuel, car maintenance and/or public transports cost. Essentially your employees will get more sleep, get less stressed and reduce their outgoings. Win Win Win!”

Seasonal cash bonuses

With the majority of people saying that they’d rather receive a pay rise over any other employee perk, it should come as no surprise that seasonal bonuses were cited as being the most desirable by 37% of employees. The most obvious option for bonuses is cash, although extra time off and other prizes can also be offered in conjunction with this.

Early finish on Fridays

According to research from Paymentsense, 35% of 2,000 office workers would like to have the benefit of finishing work earlier on a Friday. Although this may seem as though it could cost your business by decreasing the output of work, it has been proven that shorter working days do increase productivity, as employees will work smarter to ensure their tasks are completed more efficiently. As Ben Marrin, the Director of Wow Event Hire explains, “shorter working days can lead to more efficient working in many cases. This is particularly useful on a Friday afternoon, as many people’s motivation and concentration is sure to be at its lowest during this point in the working week.”

Free gym memberships

With gym memberships and access to free fitness facilities being cited as a top employee perk by both Employee Benefits and Paymentsense, this is something you should provide if you have the means to do so. As well as improving the well-being of your workers (as exercise releases endorphins), free gym memberships can also strengthen staff relationships by encouraging them to attend sessions together. As Inspire Sport explains in their article,How does exercise impact educational performance?‘, InspireSport explains: “Studies have showcased a link between increased activity levels and improved mood compared to levels of inactivity. These findings help to solidify the importance and need to undertake some type of physical exertion to combat a host of mental health issues in modern lifestyles. This improvement in mood contributes to a healthy balance in the mind, and can subsequently assist in tackling problems more calmly and logically.”

Snacks and drinks

18% of workers have said that they’d like to receive free snacks and drinks when working in the office. However, this doesn’t just benefit your staff by making them happier; Morgan Lovell advises providing a fresh fruit bowl and, if possible, healthy lunches to encourage them to increase their vitamin intake. This helps to ward off colds and flu, which minimises the amount of sick days being taken.

Green spaces

Ben Donsky, Vice President of Biederman Redevelopment, says: “One under-the-radar office perk businesses can provide is access to outdoor space. Businesses that offer greener workplaces (particularly those that have access to an outdoor space for meetings or lunch) not only normally see an increase in worker productivity, but also experience a positive impact on office morale. Study after study has shown what’s intuitive to anyone who sits at a desk eight hour a day or more; a little bit of down time and fresh air helps you refocus on your work and makes you feel better, both physically and mentally.

“When businesses invest in this outdoor experience, it pays off: the better the environment, the stronger the emotional connection an employee has to the space, and these feelings translate into a more positive attitude about work in general. Instead of a couple benches, an attractive and comfortable seating area makes break times more pleasant and encourages camaraderie among coworkers. Adding fun bonuses, like ping pong tables and other games, makes these spaces into platforms for creating positive memories, and these memories are associated with the workplace.”

“Bringing the great outdoors indoors is a great way to making sure employees get their fill of biophilia. Beautiful flowers have the ability to turn around a gloomy day, brighten your mood, and put situations into perspective.” – Flowers24Hours.co.uk

Bespoke incentives

Nothing like originality to make you stand out from the crowd and the same can be said for employee perks. It can sometimes just be the gesture of offering somebody access to something they wouldn’t normally have. Claire Walker, Marketing Manager at Webvine explains how the owners of the business give employees 7 days a year to use their holiday beach house… A great example of quality and originality.

Rachel Perkins, Director of JustMums Recruitment, adds: “As the Director of JustMums Recruitment, a specialist agency for mums returning to work and working mums, flexibility in the workplace is by far the most sought after perk. This could be the opportunity to work part-time or in a job-share, remotely from home or hours that fit in best with their family commitments such as being able to work school hours only. It is not only parents seeking flexibility in the workplace but non-parents too wanting better work-life balance to pursue activities outside of work. One of the best perks I have seen offered is on-site childcare which was funded by the employer. One organisation, an agile consulting firm, had a funky “children’s room” set up within the office allowing kids to play and have fun whilst the parents worked nearby. For parents, these perks are the most sought after with the standard free coffee, fruit bowls, office bean bags and table tennis now holding less appeal.

“Recently, I have seen an employer offer life coaching to their staff, another feeds the team on a Friday by bringing in a range of food trucks, and another allows staff to take their dog to work on occasion. We give our staff their birthday off because who wants to get up and go to work on your birthday? In a competitive or candidate short market employers need to be creative in how they attract top talent to their team, so offering such perks is highly valuable to their performance and bottom line.”

Now that you know what the top employee benefits are, it’s time to start implementing some of them to ensure a productive, healthy, and most importantly, happy workforce!