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Come for the salary, stay for the perks: Do corporate perks make a difference?

| Heidi Thompson | 20 September 2023

Workplace perks are becoming increasingly popular as employers compete to attract and retain the best talent within their business.

Perks are far from a new trend, but as the market gets tougher, it’s becoming more important to establish which perks are actually worthwhile, and those that are a waste of company funds.

There are many reasons to offer perks

The main reason for offering employee perks is to attract and keep the best possible talent within your organisation.

Pay, working conditions and career opportunities are certainly fundamental for most employees, but a package of perks that can be tailored to each individual can also reward them in ways that are meaningful too.

From cycle to work schemes, childcare support, private healthcare or extra holidays, perks are now so common that many workers consider perks when looking for the best offer of employment.

Once you’ve attracted your ideal candidate, your benefits will also play an important role in keeping them happy, motivated, long-term employees that are less likely to be tempted by other offers.
Not to mention, most benefits will help to improve employee morale and productivity too. If employees are saving money and participating in activities, this is likely to improve their mood and energy levels.

Types of corporate perks

Many perk schemes are on a subscription basis, with employers paying a sum each month based on the number of employees. This entitles them to choose from a selection of perks - including discounts at shops, entertainment venues or other services, allowing team members to choose perks that suit them.

As well as large, nationally operating schemes, there are also smaller, more locally-focused schemes that prioritise offering discounts for businesses in the local area, which also makes a statement about the company’s values and its support for the community.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop employers from creating their own reward or perk scheme, by forging their own deals with businesses, but this can be time consuming and may be less cost effective than joining an existing scheme.

Offering health-related perks has become increasingly popular amongst employers - after all, everyone is more productive when they feel at their best! Benefits such as health insurance, wellness offers and mental health support can also help to reduce the time that employees will need to take off work, though can be costly so it's important to ensure these benefits, like all others, are welcomed by your employees and are affordable.

Enhanced paid sick leave may seem like a reward for absenteeism, but it can be a very smart benefit to offer in workplaces that suffer from presenteeism, particularly if team members regularly attend work when feeling unwell. Going beyond statutory sick leave will encourage employees not to come into work where they can infect others, and instead focus on getting well again, quickly.

Salary sacrifice can be a little confusing without proper explanation, but it essentially enables employees to increase their pension contributions, purchase items or pay for services through their pay. This can reduce the amount of Income Tax paid, thereby saving them money and also reducing the National Insurance Tax paid by employers. Bicycles or electric car purchases are a very popular salary sacrifice scheme, but there are important rules that must be followed.

Lastly, carbon offsetting is a perk that’s gained popularity in recent years. Companies can pay for either trees to be planted or other sustainable works to be completed around the world. The amount invested into these schemes is enough to offset each person’s carbon footprint, essentially making them and their household carbon neutral or even carbon positive. While this may not be of financial benefit to the employee, it can give them a sense that by working for you, they are doing their part for the environment.

There are some downsides to consider too

Offering employee perks certainly has its benefits but there are a few issues that may need to be considered first.

Rising costs are becoming more of a problem for businesses, especially those on a smaller scale. The cost of medical and health insurance for example will increase year on year, meaning it could eventually become out of your budget.

There’s also some admin costs associated with benefits too - as many of them will require inductions, set ups and general maintenance, as well as an ongoing fee or subscription. Many firms implement a benefits-tracking system to help with this, but again, there’s a price to pay for that.

It can also be tricky to keep everyone happy, as everyone has different priorities and interests. Some people may share the opinion that medical and health benefits are at the top of the list, whereas others may prefer activities or wellbeing support - so try to get a balance if you can or allow individuals to choose their own perks from a list of options.

You’ll also need to make sure that you’re regularly reviewing your budget and spending, to keep track of any rising costs associated with perks. If you find that things are becoming too expensive, you may receive backlash when cancelling a benefit once employees have become accustomed to them.

Importantly there are a number of non cost (or low cost) benefits that are attractive for employees and more realistic for many employers. These can be around increased annual leave, flexible working, time off for birthdays, flu jabs, employee assistance programmes and so on. It's worth talking to your employees to find out what they would most value and go from there.

So, which perks are worth the money?

According to HR Magazine, these were the most popular perks amongst employees in 2022:

  • Overtime pay
  • Flexible working hours
  • Company-funded retirement plans
  • Four day working weeks
  • Early Friday finishes
  • Miscarriage leave
  • Paid self-care days
  • Private health insurance
  • Work from anywhere policies

Many of these benefits revolve around working flexibly and a better work-life balance, which has seen a significant rise in desirability since working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. In today’s world, employers will find that some candidates will not even apply for roles that do not offer some element of flexible and agile working.

Other desirable benefits that do have a direct expense correlation include overtime pay (which is not always possible, depending on your business), as well as company-funded retirement plans and private healthcare.

At Duncan & Toplis, we can provide advice and guidance to your business on implementing corporate benefits - get in touch today.


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