Are your benefits actually beneficial?

There is a strong correlation between reward and performance. Employees who are rewarded suitably and are satisfied, are more loyal, more productive and more successful.

As benefits are a key component of reward, offering the right benefits can be crucial for business success.

Not only are praise and recognition essential, but with an increasingly low unemployment rate, having a great benefits offering is imperative when looking to attract and retain the best talent for your organisation. This is further supported by research that highlights that over half of UK workers would consider taking a lower salary for better benefits, such as a better work-life balance, childcare, pension contributions or flexibility.

One thing that people often look out for when applying for a new job is the benefits that come with the position. The problem is, many employers still seem to be pursuing an unmeasured and undifferentiated, ‘follow‐the‐herd’ benefits strategy. A ‘one size fits all’ approach rarely satisfies everyone’s needs. In reality, there are many ‘benefits’ that if not used in the right way, may do more harm than good.

Benefits are nothing without engagement.

Even if you’ve chosen benefits that reflect the needs of the workforce and have made them flexible and easily accessible – if employees don’t know about them, they’re futile.

How to overcome this:

Get the team involved – involve employees from the get-go. After all the benefits are for them, so involve them in the decision making process. For example, when implementing a wellbeing benefit find out what employees actually want. Would they prefer a subscription to an all-inclusive fitness program where they can attend any class in any location, over a gym membership? Would they like guided mediation classes over Zumba classes? Would they prefer a cycle to work scheme? Or would including all of these and giving employees a choice, be a better option?

Word of mouth promotion – ensure everyone is aware of the programs and gets excited about them. If you’ve chosen the correct benefits, more people will participate and naturally spread the word.

Encourage all levels to participate – benefits should be available to all employees, regardless of their seniority.

– Easy access – make them easily accessible! All benefits should be available in one place and should be simple to gain access to.

Benefits that are not benefits:

1. Wellness without engagement

A healthy workforce is a happy one. Employees suffering from poor mental health or presenteeism are less likely to be engaged workers. The link between wellness and productivity is obvious, but it’s also important to make sure that your employees are engaged with what you’re offering.
After all, how many of us have had a gym membership that we never use?

2. Unlimited holidays

Statistically, it is proven that employees with ‘unlimited’ annual leave actually tend to take fewer days off.

Holidays are usually approved by the discretion of the manager, but without the use-it-or-lose-it driver, most workers will keep working in order to serve commitments to customers and peers.

It is often just as, if not more effective, to offer a fixed amount that is fair at all levels and rewards long-serving employees (with the option to buy extra days if need be).

3. Employee discount programs

The problem with most external discount schemes is that they are usually all about generating revenue through partnerships, which means your employees don’t actually save any money. Some unique programs are utilised effectively, however most are forgotten about.

4. Employee of The Month

While recognition programs can increase morale and make employees feel special for a short period of time. They can serve as a demotivator for anyone else who has been doing a great job. Being more instantaneous in your approach to recognition can be more successful long term. Why wait to reward someone when doing it now will provide a better and longer lasting impact?

5. Special or over-inflated job titles

These job titles are superfluous and may actually hinder employees when applying for future roles. Assigning an employee a job title that doesn’t accurately reflect their duties can misrepresent them in the market, and make it harder for them to find another position moving forward.

6. Free meals and childcare services

Benefits that appear to encourage employees to work longer hours could backfire. For example, some employees believe that onsite childcare services encourages employees to work longer, as it removes the need to physically pick up their children. Some also said that providing meals seems to incentivise people to work later as well.

That’s not to say that neither of these benefits work, however the communication regarding why they are in place needs to be clear.

 7. Ping pong tables and bean bags

Many companies opt for modern workspaces equipped with snacks, bean bags, and foosball tables. The intention is to inspire the workforce to feel more engaged at work. However, often the result is meager, as what’s really important to employees is having purpose and being passionate about what they do.

It’s not that ping-pong tables aren’t nice in an abstract way, but they can also wreak havoc on everyone else’s ability to get things done.

8. Paying phone bills

On the surface, this sounds like a great benefit. After all, it’s essentially increased compensation. However, it can promote a culture of never switching off.  Your employees may feel like they should be taking calls or answering emails during evenings and weekends.

Encouraging this sort of behaviour can be damaging as it’s been proven that people are more productive when they can truly leave work at work.

Listening to what your employees actually want, and promoting a flexible approach to benefits is the best way to gain a competitive edge and reward each employee fairly.

Your employees are not looking for work to be a playground, bar, gym or restaurant, and not because fun at work is not important. Creating a positive environment to work in is vital. Although in the end, a great benefits offering should be flexible and tailored to the needs of each employee – not the masses.

Author: Leigh David

Are you a candidate looking for your next role? Let us help you.

Alternatively, are you an organisation with a HR or Reward vacancy? Get in touch


Tags: , , Categories: Employer, Reward

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