How to make employee benefits work for your business

6 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

Benefits are a key element of any recruitment drive and, if chosen well, can have numerous positive ramifications for your business. By selecting the right incentives to offer, a well thought-out benefits package can help secure the right candidates for your business, as well as helping to nurture and retain the key talent within your organisation.

The combination of these two elements will, ultimately, work towards fostering a positive and productive workplace environment.

What is the purpose of employee benefits?

Benefits can be used in multiple ways for several different outcomes. For example, they can help mark you out as a top company to current and prospective candidates, clients, suppliers and the sector at large. Due to this, benefits can, and should, be used as a marketing tool in the promotion of your company.

Perhaps most significantly, benefits can be a key part of your strategy to both recruit and retain staff. Long gone is the time when companies could simply offer the bare minimum number days of statutory paid holiday and hope employees would be happy. In these competitive times, recruitment is very much a buyer’s market, with the number of vacancies requiring specialist skills outnumbering the availability of talented job seekers. As such, attractive benefits can be used as an effective selling tool to secure your dream candidate, perhaps even more so than a competitive salary.

Finally, if chosen and implemented wisely, benefits can be useful in fostering the company culture you wish to create. What benefits you can offer in order to achieve this will be discussed in the next section.

What kind of benefits can you offer?

The number and types of benefits you can offer are practically limitless, though what you are able to deliver will depend on the available budget, the size of your company, and the practicalities or logistics involved.

The kinds of benefits can be roughly divided into six categories that address particular concerns or desires of your employees: practical, emotional, financial, family-friendly, health and wellbeing, and company culture.

1. Practical

Practical incentives can make your employees working lives simpler, or help them to manage the logistics of their work-life balance. Practical benefits can include transport, such as discounted public transport costs, reserved parking spaces, cycle-to-work schemes and company cars. It can also include technological assistance such as a company laptop or a mobile phone to aid flexible working.

Holidays can also be a deal-breaker in any benefits package, with many job seekers likely to negotiate on this area. Going beyond the statutory 28 days (which can include bank holidays) is a good first step, with some organisations going so far as to offer unlimited holidays.

2. Emotional

Tapping into your employees’ emotional needs usually goes hand-in-hand with Corporate Social Responsibility (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.

Emotional benefits can include days off for volunteering, asking them to nominate a charity partner of the year, sponsoring or running fundraising events, and offering training or mentoring schemes for young people.

3. Financial

Financial benefits are often a big draw as they have the double advantage of helping to ease your employees’ worries about the future and also encouraging them to strive for excellence and achieve targets. Traditional financial incentives include annual bonuses, commission on sales, and pension schemes. Forward-thinking organisations have also identified that non-sales-focused staff should also be given the opportunity to win commission and have created alternative performance-related targets for them to aim for.

4. Family-friendly

Many of today’s workforce either have children or are planning to have children, and so organisations would be wise to ensure that their family-friendly benefits are up to scratch. Benefits could include an extended paid maternity leave, shared parental leave, childcare vouchers, onsite crèches, and flexible working to allow for childcare arrangements.

5. Health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing initiatives have become increasingly important since the acknowledgement from the government in 2011 that mental health should be given equal parity as physical health. As such, taboos surrounding mental health are being slowly broken down and an increasing number of wellbeing initiatives have entered the workplace. These can include the availability of counselling sessions, chill-out zones and mental health first aiders, as well as physical health incentives such as gym memberships, onsite yoga classes, office sports teams, the provision of healthy snacks, and the encouragement of staff to take a full lunch hour away from their desks.

6. Company culture

Finally, though not strictly a benefit, organisations can use their company culture as a key selling point to job hunters, particularly among younger candidates. Company culture can include a whole range of activities, including dog-friendly offices, monthly events, the availability of a pool table or board games, a summer staff BBQ, Christmas office party, and dress down Fridays. It's crucial here to ensure your company culture isn't focused around something like alcohol, with staff feeling pressured to have a drink each time everyone gets together. This can be hugely off-putting - especially to candidates that don't drink.

What benefits should you offer?

Listed above is a large range of benefits, however offering all of them may not be practical, nor even necessary. In order to select the benefits that will have a positive impact on your business, you should carefully weigh up what you can offer against what your current staff want and what your ideal candidates may be looking for.

To help you decide, the first step could be to ask your employees – anonymously or in staff reviews – what they appreciate the most in their current package, and what they feel is missing. From there, it is important to then consider what kind of benefits are relevant to the position you are recruiting for.

For example, individuals who have to leave on time every day to collect young children from school may not value regular nights out or a free bar, but they will appreciate a more flexible approach to start and leave times.

Benefits and your recruitment

Once you have carefully curated a targeted package of benefits, the next step should be to ensure potential candidates hear about them during the recruitment process. While you may not wish to give too many details away in public areas, such as on your careers page on or on job board websites, you should pass on all of the details to your recruitment consultant and allow them to do the hard work for you.

Remember, the little things that you may take for granted, such as regular social activities, an office netball team or an onsite shower and changing room, may make all the difference to prospective candidate. Due to this, do not be shy in compiling a list of all the things that makes your company unique and sharing these with your recruitment agency.

Get in touch

Sellick Partnership has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to find talented candidates to join their team. We are happy to speak to you about your current or future recruitment needs, contact us today.