Employee benefit schemes play a growing role in today’s workplace. As salaries remain stagnant and inflation continues to rise, workers are examining every benefit  a role offers, not just cash value.

Effective employee benefits programs have a dramatic impact on recruitment and retention—and with the unstable UK job market, there’s no better time to go beyond the basics.

Here’s what HR leaders should know about the different types of employee benefit programs and how their growing significance will impact your business.

The modern landscape of employee retention and recruitment 

The pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a volatile job market have severely impacted employee loyalty. Turnover rates in the UK have increased by almost 9% since 2019 and are expected to rise 41% in the next year.

These numbers are even more stark for younger generations, with over half of Gen Z and millennials likely to change roles compared to one in three of their older counterparts. But this can all change when employee benefits are considered.

Why employee benefits matter more than ever

Employee benefits schemes significantly influence an employee’s decision to stay in their role. The cost of living is increasing at an upward spike, yet the average paycheck falls short, with UK workers experiencing wage stagnation for the last 15 years. Because of this stagnation, many employees are looking at incentives outside of salaries and pay rises. 

Expectations are changing, particularly for younger generations who make up a growing percentage of the UK workforce. Gen Z—the latest to join—are expected to represent 27% of the workforce by 2025 and their entry into employment has altered how they view the working world. The majority are looking for hybrid or remote work, with flexibility being a top consideration. And 42% see physical and mental wellbeing benefits as a workplace priority. 

These benefits impact not only those in employment but also those looking to move on. One study found that 69% of all employees would choose one job over another due to better employee benefits, and Glassdoor reports that 79% would prefer additional employee benefits over a salary increase.

This has caused a change in workplace dynamics, with repercussions of the ‘Great Resignation’ impacting what is still a competitive job market. 45% of UK employers are struggling to fill vacancies, with only 27% planning to raise wages in response to difficulties.

With this in mind, employee benefits have never been more of a priority for businesses, but only if they get them right. 

Exploring different types of employee benefits

Family and reproductive health benefits 

With an all-time high number of parents in the workforce, family and reproductive health benefits are now an integral element of employee benefit schemes. These include:

  • Fertility and family building benefits: Helping employees on the path to parenthood through clinical, emotional, and financial support
  • Maternity benefits: Supporting new parents during pregnancy and after birth with clinical and emotional care
  • Parenting: On-demand access to parenting specialists and paediatric care 
  • Menopause support: Flexibility, education, and access to healthcare services for employees navigating perimenopause and menopause

Health and wellbeing packages

Health and wellness perks are one of the most popular types of employee benefits, and remain one of the most important. This includes any area that supports the physical health of an employee—namely medical insurance, dental coverage, and eye care—as well as overall physical and mental wellbeing such as smoking cessation programmes and a subsidised gym membership.

Mental health support is quickly becoming an expected employee benefit, with 80% of organisations reporting an increase in demand since the pandemic. Common areas of support include providing resources and educational programmes, stress management, and access to therapists and counsellors. Some organisations offer employee assistance programmes that provide this support, while others offer more comprehensive care through a third-party partner.

Employee discount schemes and perks

Many businesses offer employee benefits that financially benefit the employee in day-to-day life. These employee discount schemes include discounts and vouchers for childcare, restaurants, supermarkets, events and attractions, local businesses, and online shopping.

Whilst a simple benefit, this style of employee benefits scheme can be incredibly helpful for employees' financial wellbeing whilst demonstrating an appreciation for hard work.

Life insurance and workplace pensions

All employers are legally obliged to provide a workplace pension scheme, paying a minimum of 3%. However, some organisations offer to increase this amount, allowing the employee to pay less into their pension, or by matching what the employee contributes.

This is not a legal requirement, but employee life insurance is a recommended benefit that provides money to employees’ family members in the event of their death. This tax-free lump sum supports an individual’s dependents such as their partner or children, and is an effective way to provide financial aid through employee benefits. 

Paid time off

UK employees are entitled to a set amount of paid time off work (depending on whether they work full-time, part-time or irregular hours). But many companies provide more than the minimum, as doing so supports a better work-life balance whilst having a direct correlation on increased employee productivity

The most recent advancement is seen in the UK’s four-day work week trial, where 56 out of 61 partaking companies have continued to adopt a 32-hour week as a result of better productivity and employee wellbeing.

Other forms of extended paid time include sabbaticals, unlimited annual leave, extended parental leave beyond the legal minimum, and paid bereavement leave.

Salary sacrifice

Salary sacrifice, or salary exchange, is a voluntary arrangement where an employee’s salary is reduced in exchange for a benefit. This could be a pension contribution, cycle to work scheme, childcare support, or new car scheme. It is often a helpful way for employees to save money and spread the cost of expensive purchases.

The benefits of salary sacrifice are tenfold. Employees pay less National Insurance and income tax, increasing their take-home pay and driving financial wellbeing, whilst employers also make tax savings which can be reinvested back into the business.

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How employee benefits schemes drive business outcomes

Benefits package as a reflection of company culture

The employee benefits you provide mirror your company values. Family benefits demonstrate a family-friendly workplace, health benefits show the company cares for an employee’s personal wellbeing, and unlimited leave alludes to a trusting environment.

The package you provide is an indication of how your organisation operates and therefore plays a role in attracting like-minded talent.

Tying benefits to employee retention

Benefit schemes are shown to have an impact on employee loyalty. One study found that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their current employer due to the benefits package provided. And with turnover rates (and costs) on the rise, employers simply can’t afford to lose more workers. 

According to the CIPD, the average expense of filling a vacancy is at least £1,500 per employee, increasing to £3,000 for a senior manager or director. By providing an effective employee benefits program, employers can make impactful business savings whilst also supporting current workers.

How an employee benefits scheme boost recruitment

Employee benefits are quickly becoming one of, if not the most, influencing decision factors for a new recruit. Research by Michael Page found that 73% of job seekers have or would heavily factor in the benefits package before deciding to accept or turn down a role.

It’s crucial for employers to not only implement a valuable benefit scheme, but to also clearly share details across job adverts, social media, and on the company website. Tying employee benefits into branding unveils an opportunity to outshine competitors and win top talent.

Looking forward: the future of employee benefit schemes 

Employees’ needs and wants are constantly evolving. So whilst it’s crucial to catch up to current demands, it’s equally—if not more—important to implement an employee benefits scheme that accommodates for future trends and future generations of workers.

Anticipated trends in employee benefits

Regularly revisiting and adapting your employee benefits package should be done annually, if not more often. This is as important for those with a large, varied workforce as it is for a smaller, tight-knit team—if the perks provided aren’t relevant or employee engagement is low, then you won’t be maximising the potential benefits of valued and rewarded employees.

Whilst not everyone will require the same benefits, there are a number of key trends we’re seeing from both employees’ expectations and benefit providers:

1. Unique employee benefits

With so many organisations offering similar employee benefits to potential recruits, employees are eagle eyed to any perks that stand out.

Whilst some are more on the fun side (dress-down days and free snacks), the voluntary benefits that are both unique and purposeful are what make an employer more desirable. 

Offerings such as supplemental private medical insurance, an employee assistance programme, onsite self-care services (health screenings, massages etc.), pet insurance, and startup funds that inspire entrepreneurial employees to set up a side hustle are just some of the perks that can inspire your workforce.

2. Greater emphasis on personalisation and flexible benefits

No two employees have the same lifestyle, so benefits shouldn’t be catered for everyone. That’s where personalised benefit programs come into effect. By providing a scope of perks that can be tailored to an individual, these schemes result in higher uptake rates and an improved ROI for the employer. 

Flexible benefits schemes are often seen within digital health and wellbeing which can be utilised by every worker to meet their own needs.

Programs such as Maven’s global platform provide comprehensive and personalised care for all women and families throughout various stages of life from pregnancy to parenting.

How Maven’s employee benefits program improves retention and recruitment

An effective employee benefit scheme is a guaranteed way to improve talent attraction and retention. And whilst it can be difficult to find a solution that accommodates your entire workforce, there are schemes that can be tailored to each of your employees. 

Maven is the world’s leading women’s and family healthcare platform, providing inclusive, cost-effective employee benefits. With specialised clinical, emotional, and financial support in one place, you can help employees navigate every aspect of their family and reproductive health.

Find out how Maven can enhance your employee benefits schemes by requesting a demo today.

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