The less well known benefits that employees really value

A high salary, robust retirement plan and extensive healthcare used to be the crème de la crème of workplace benefits plans. That is no longer the case. Now, employees expect everything from a work-from-home benefit and unlimited holiday to professional mentorships, personal financial services, payroll giving, pet healthcare, and more.

The most successful companies are offering their employees just that, thinking above and beyond the usual ‘working from home policy’ and ‘casual Friday wear’ to provide benefits which help them stand out as an employer and make their employees feel truly valued. When a company can offer its staff the flexibility and support they are looking for, they reap the benefits. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 89% of HR professionals reported an increase in employee retention after launching flexible work arrangements. The key comes down to finding those particular benefits which are not necessarily the obvious, standard options, but do make a real difference to employees’ lives.

Luke Bullen, UK&I Head of Corporate Wellness at Gympass, shares his top five benefits that may not always be on your list of options, but are certainly worth considering.

Back-up Childcare

Sometimes plans fall apart. Whether it’s due to a sick child, or an ill childcare provider, every parent knows the need for emergency cover. This is where back-up care saves the day.

Companies can offer links with local day care centres or at home nanny services. These tend to operate inside and outside of working hours – like late evenings and weekends to allow for ongoing work commitments. Employees are often provided with a certain number of days usage at a preferable rate.

It’s interesting to note that results from the Care.com 2017 Cost of Care survey revealed that while 44% of working parents say their employer seems to care about their child care needs, 85% wish their employer offered child care benefits, such as discounted child care and access to Backup Care. When parents know they are covered, they are able to focus on their work, without external stressors limiting their productivity.

Flexible Gym Benefits

Barriers to exercise include lack of time, accessibility and money. When companies can offer their staff simple solutions to remove these, employees and employers both thrive. Increased physical health can reduce medical costs, sick days, and employee fatigue, while also increasing productivity and serving as an incentive to attract top talent.

Traditionally, “gym benefits” meant offering an onsite gym, or discounts to local providers. Both options have one serious limitation: they tend to only attract employees who would exercise anyway. Local discounts are priced at a level that means that gyms are still too expensive to attract non-exercisers – and they still require employees to sign a long contract and stick to one venue and activity type. Onsite gyms, meanwhile, require potential members to be body-confident and restrict people to exercising at the office and around their colleagues. Moreover, modern consumers are used to having choice and flexibility – and restricting them to limited activities and locations simply doesn’t keep up with their demands.

Instead, companies can partner with platforms like Gympass, leaders in corporate wellness, which make it easy and affordable for employees to keep active. Gympass gives employees unlimited access to over 2,000 gyms, studios and fitness centres across the UK at a fraction of the cost of a regular gym membership, allowing members to find an activity to suit them no matter their location or preference. Companies like Tesco, Santander and Aviva already offer Gympass to all of their employees as part of their wellbeing programmes. The result? A healthy, more productive workforce.

Personal Financial Wellness Services

An employee doesn’t have to be in financial distress to benefit from a personal financial wellness service. They may have excellent credit and savings, but everyone has goals, like saving for a child’s education, a new car, house, or retirement, that may be causing stress. Whatever it is, a personal helping hand can be an excellent resource to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Removing this distraction has been proven to boost employee productivity, retention and engagement and improve physical health. By offering financial wellness programs that include budget counselling, credit building and debt reduction services, employers can help their employees to build more stable and secure financial lives. One likely result is an increase in home ownership among employees, which, in turn, leads to greater longevity in the workplace.

Paid Time Off for Community Service

Giving back to the local community is more than just good PR. It gets employees out of the office, meeting people within their community, working together in a completely different way and gives another element of purpose to their job.

There are two ways to encourage employees to give back. One is to allow them to take a day to volunteer for their chosen community service cause. Another is to organise a company-wide day of giving. Both have the impact of giving employees the chance to do something above and beyond their normal day to day, which will bring them feelings of fulfilment and keep them motivated.

Payroll Giving

This benefit allows both your company and participating employees the chance to make monthly donations to any national or local charity. It makes it simple for individuals to support multiple charities with a single donation no matter how large or small. Because the donation is taken from employees’ pay before tax is deducted, they get immediate tax relief at source. It also has the added bonus of positioning the company in a giving, caring and supportive light.

The Bottom Line

Overall, employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from an expanded and flexible benefit package. A big part of your company’s reputation comes from the benefits it offers. Providing flexible and thoughtful benefits can boost this reputation, while helping recruit and retain talented employees, and giving current employees something new to get excited about.

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