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All too often the importance of offering a competitive employee benefits package can be overlooked while recruiting. However, a well-curated selection of benefits can make all the difference in securing your dream candidate.

For example, they can help you stand out from your competitors in the first instance, and, further down the recruitment process, they also give you the edge if your prospective employee is weighing up two competing job offers. Additionally, many candidates look for and value certain benefits higher than their salary requirements during their job search.

Essential benefits

1. Flexible working

Flexible working for an improved work/life balance is now one of the key benefits that prospective candidates keep an eye out for when job hunting, and it is essential that your company offers something to satisfy this demand. Arrangements can be formal, such as providing flexible start/finish times and job-shares, or more informal such as the option to work from home when the need arises, or permission to take a longer lunch break in order to get to the gym and back in time, for example.

2. Maternity/paternity package

Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks and Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 of those weeks. New mothers are entitled to receive 90 percent of their average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, followed by £145.18 or 90 percent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. Companies can demonstrate their support and commitment to new parents by offering enhanced pay and leave for maternity, paternity and adoption packages. For example, they can extend the period whereby staff will receive full or a portion of their weekly earnings, permit new fathers to share the parental leave with their partners, and/or allow parents to take their leave over a period of two years.

3. Pensions/financial planning

As an employer you are legally required to enrol staff onto a workplace pension scheme, however helping to look after your employees’ financial future should not stop there.

Consider supplementing your pension provision with a workplace savings scheme, or offering additional financial education surrounding investments, budgeting, savings and taxation to help your employees’ money work for them.

4. Holidays

It is the law for organisations to offer 28 days of statutory paid holiday to full-time employees, and this can include the eight bank holidays spread out across the calendar year. However, holidays regularly top the bill for essential benefits that job seekers look out for. By offering additional days off – for birthdays, duvet days and so on – or giving staff members the ability to buy extra days should they require them, you will be sure to give yourself an edge against your competitors.

Must-have benefits

1. Health and wellbeing

Looking after your staff’s physical and mental wellbeing is the perfect way to show that you care. Gym memberships, discounted or free healthy food and snacks, ‘chill out’ zones, ergonomic workstations, and onsite massages or yoga classes are all great benefits to offer. Additionally, consider starting a sports team for football, netball or hockey, or creating clubs for book, wine or cookery lovers.

2. Childcare provisions

The option for flexible working often appeals to parents, but there are other moves that can be equally attractive. Onsite childcare arrangements and working arrangements to fit around childcare can be compelling benefits to would-be or current parents when considering their next career move.

3. Commission and bonuses

Financial benefits such as annual bonuses and commission are a great way to recognise and reward staff for their hard work and dedication. Consider finding ways to offer commission on performance-related targets for employees who don’t work in sales.

Nice-to-have benefits

1. Private healthcare

Although they may never need it, just knowing private healthcare is available can be very effective in providing peace of mind to your employees. This could include dental plans, travel insurance, occupational health, health assessments and mental health initiatives that extend to a staff member’s immediate family.

2. Practicalities

Help take the pressure off your workforce’s commute by helping them to travel better. Offer free car parking and/or reserved parking spaces, a company car and/or a petrol or diesel allowance. Alternatively, encourage a greener commute with discounted public transport costs, cycle-to-work schemes and walk-to-work initiatives. If your staff mostly work from home, or are usually out on the road travelling, then a company laptop and mobile phone can also be a great perk to assist them in working better.

3. CSR initiatives

It is important not to underestimate the value that employees place on being able to give back to their local community or to causes close to their hearts, and your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals should align with this. Offering days off for volunteering or charity work, allowing them to vote for the corporate charity partner of the year and hosting or sponsoring fundraising events and activities can all be fantastic ways to demonstrate to your staff that you care. In addition, you may wish to consider hosting talks from social enterprises and charities, providing opportunities to build links and give back to the local community, and offering mentoring or running workshops for young people

4. All the little extras 

Though not formalised as benefits, it can be all of those little ‘extras’ that add up to a warm, positive and productive work environment, which in turn encourages staff loyalty, builds bonds across teams and sets the company culture. These extras can include a cake for an employee’s birthday, social events such as an all-company summer BBQ or pay-day drinks, as well as subsidised tickets to concerts, exhibitions or the theatre.

Above is a list of just some of the very many benefits that organisations should consider offering in order to help them both retain and attract the very best talent. We have ranked them in order of what we believe to be are the essential, must-have and nice-to-have benefits, yet the best way to decide which are best suited to your organisation is to speak with the ultimate resource under your fingertips – your current staff!

Get in touch

Now that you know what benefits to offer, head on over to our blog on making benefits work for your business to ensure you implement them in the right way. Alternatively if you would like more information on how to attract staff and ensure your current employees are happy at work, take a look at our employer resources section