February 11, 2016

Are you giving your employees the right perks?

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of the UK workforce think they either don’t receive enough perks or are given the wrong kind of perks by their employer. So says a new survey by facilities and building maintenance company, Direct365.

“A lot of companies suffer from ostrich syndrome when it comes to employee benefits,” says Emma Gilroy, brand development manager at Direct365. “They think they are offering perks that their staff want, but as our survey results show, the reality is very different. If employers spent more time focusing on rewarding their staff and showing gratitude, they would not only see increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved customer service, but more importantly, they would drastically reduce the amount of staff looking to move on.”

Direct365 asked UK employees what perks they would like included in their benefits package. What was the result?

– Top of the list was flexible working. More than one in three (35%) said they would like the option to work flexibly.
– 27% would like a company car
– 14% would like corporate gym membership
– 6% would like childcare vouchers

There is lots of research out there detailing what other benefits employees want, on top of those highlighted by the Direct 365 survey. Pensions are always an important benefit, as are healthcare packages and share options. Other popular options are enhanced leave provisions (say extended maternity and paternity leave or sabbaticals), season ticket loans and income protection packages.

HR leaders estimate that benefit packages are worth 11.5% of an employee’s basic pay. This is quite a sizeable outlay on the part of employers, so it’s important to get it right. However, research by employee benefits specialist Thomsons Online Benefits, found that employees are way off the mark with their estimation of how much their benefits packages are worth. The report, ‘Retaining and Protecting your Key Talent, found that the average employee thinks their benefits package is worth 6.6% of basic pay, meaning that they undervalue their perks by 5.4%.

One of the most benefits most favoured by employees can actually be good for the corporate purse. When designed well, flexible working schemes can hugely benefit organisations in terms of increased productivity, the ability to cover peaks and troughs more effectively, reduced absenteeism and attrition, higher motivation and loyalty, etc.

The trick is of course, to offer employees the benefits they want, as far as is practicable and possible. How can you, as an HR professional, ensure your organisation is offering perks that employees genuinely want?

– Ask them. Ask employees what benefits they would like to receive and which ones could be dropped. This could be done via feedback forms or an internal survey.
– Talk to leaders around the business, to senior and middle management. Find out their views on what would motivate employees and what benefits are important
– Monitor take up and usage
– Follow up. If you offer a new package, get feedback on how well it is being received. Find out how it is benefitting employees and how it is benefitting you. This is particularly important in terms of flexible working.