Employer Branding

Is Your Employee Benefits Package Competitive Enough?

An attractive benefits package is a great way for employers to compete for high calibre employees, but what employee perks are considered the most enticing to today’s job seekers?

Our latest salary and recruitment survey for our local region shows that benefits are playing an even greater role within the candidate decision-making process. We have seen an upward trend in organisations choosing to review the benefits offered as a way to attract and retain high-calibre employees. This has been particularly evident within sectors facing candidate short markets, as when there are more job opportunities available, candidates become more confident about moving companies and feel more empowered to negotiate better terms. Employees don’t choose to switch on salary alone and a recent national survey showed that benefits were still the third main attraction for job seekers, after salary and location. Another study by Capita also showed that 66 per cent of employees are more likely to stay with an employer which provides good benefits.

The be all and end all?

An organisation’s benefit package could be the deciding factor for an employee, especially if the salary offer is the same as a competing organisation. Yet many of the benefits that were often seen as adding real value are becoming increasingly common place. Health care schemes and gym memberships are becoming more prevalent and, 85 per cent of companies we surveyed are now offering flexible working hours and 70 per cent are providing some form of study or educational support. For decades, pensions used to be a key differentiator, yet with the Workplace Pensions roll out almost complete, more employers are beginning to offer enhanced pensions to entice new employees.

Common appreciation

Even relatively small-scale benefits can still carry a significant amount of weight for candidates. People spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and benefits which make a big difference to day-to-day life can be just as appealing. Recent research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development noted in this article in shows that among the most common benefits appreciated by workers are the low-key perks. It included examples such as having free tea and coffee available and being allowed to have online purchases delivered to the workplace.

Organisations respond

The 2016 Aviva Working Lives Report revealed that one in five employers are planning to increase spending on workplace benefits in the next 12 months and we are seeing organisations continue to look for innovative ways to update benefit schemes. Many employers are looking towards the modern day challenges faced by today’s workers for inspiration. For example, a London organisation has reported that it is now offering staff help to get on the property ladder as part of its benefit scheme. Other firms have decided to provide low cost personal loans for employees, offering better rates than those offered by banks, and making monthly repayments simple by deducting direct from payroll.

Flexible benefits

Another option is for employers to enable benefits to be tailored to individual groups of employees, as different incentives appeal to different people. A recent Employee Benefits survey reported by Davidson Asset Management (DAM) found that nearly three-quarters of workers would like to be able to adapt their benefits to suit their needs. The report also showed that there was a marked difference between what different generations wanted from their benefits package. More than two-fifths of millennials would value financial advice, but only 17 per cent of those aged 30 or over would appreciate this perk. However, 45 per cent of those aged 30 and over would like to see increased pension contributions, but this was only of interest to 22 per cent of millennials. While some benefit options will be attractive to a broad section of employees, but for lots of different reasons. For example, the opportunity to buy extra annual leave can appeal to parents as a cheaper option than paying for childcare during school holidays and also prove attractive to employees wishing to travel more or for those looking for more time to pursue passions or hobbies outside of work.   

Money and meaning

Other research also shows that the latest generation of graduates and young professionals are willing to sacrifice more financial-based rewards in exchange for meaningful work. Many Millennials are looking for jobs with a purpose, they want to feel they are doing something worthwhile, to work for employees who appreciate their contribution, who will support them to progress and to be part of an ethical organisation with responsible values. A culture of open communication and employee development, plus strong organisational values and vision, can be significant benefits for enhancing employer brand.

One way in which employers can monitor whether they have a competitive benefits package which will help to attract and retain the best talent is by asking employees for regular feedback within a staff survey. Another option is to seek advice from a recruitment consultant. A good recruitment consultant will have their finger on the pulse of the industry they specialise in, and the local market, and will be able to provide valuable insight into any shifting trends in salaries and benefit packages.  

By Gill Buchanan

Gill is a founding Director of Pure Resourcing Solutions has worked in the recruitment field since 1988. Gill’s experience is broad based and includes eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company including five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia.