In good times and bad, work benefits are there to help staff thrive and survive.
Brunsdon Financial's director and employee benefits consultant, Steve Kenyon, shares his expertise with SoGlos on thinking through which incentives will bring the biggest benefits to your firm and valued staff.
Let's start with the basics, why have benefits for your staff?
Benefits are a brilliant retention tool that can bring improved well-being, as well as reassurance to teams. They're a great tool to attract top candidates and if you get them right, they'll strengthen loyalty.
What kind of benefits are most popular and why?
Crafting the best benefits can help support employees in all aspects of their lives outside of work.
There are quite a range of benefits to choose from that can span everything from financial support, if they become ill over the long term, through to mental health and wellness support with direct support access.
With the current climate, we are finding educational benefits such as financial workshops are becoming increasingly popular, as the cost of living crisis continues through the winter.
Is it a mistake to overlook the value of benefits and why?
I believe so. Not too long ago, employee benefits were a ‘nice to have’. However, these days employees actively look at the overall package offered by an employer and as such, the employee benefits need to be arranged in a way that supports the company and its employees too.
How can offering benefits change your business?
There was a misconception that benefits cost a lot of money and they only really pay out when the most serious life circumstances happen.
But there are so many benefits now that not only improve employees' overall well-being, but also provide a high perceived return on investment. It's got to be worth considering.
If a small business is just starting up and can only offer one benefit, what would you suggest?
Group life assurance is the staple benefit. It is very cost efficient and a great way of supporting the family, should the worst ever happen to an employee.
Most group life providers will now offer some type of employee assistance programme or support.
Do you have any success stories you can share, where benefits have been introduced with great results?
Historically, most success stories are born from bad news, but we know what a huge difference they can make to the families of the affected employees.
With certain benefits becoming more proactive in their nature, such as employee assistance programmes and cash plans, these benefits can support employees without them becoming ill.
Understanding the needs of employers and employees allows us to create a bespoke package that will deliver the best success through perceived value.
If you’re an employer where’s the best place to start?
I would suggest speaking to a reputable employee benefit consultancy.
The various benefits and providers can be a minefield and they should be able to help ensure you have the right package against budget, whilst conducting regular reviews to ensure the benefits are actively managed.
As an employee, can you ask your employer to consider introducing benefits?
I certainly would recommend this. Employee benefits are becoming a serious employee consideration against salary and should be factored into the bigger picture.
Is there any aspect of employee benefit schemes you’d like to highlight?
I personally like benefits and ideas that think outside the box and can potentially help employees in different ways. One example would be educational workshops.
Ultimately though, a benefits package should be designed to suit the needs of the employer and workforce. That way, it ensures greater take-up, engagement and perceived value.