A quick summary:
Offering an employee benefits programme seems like a simple process, but in reality, the demands of modern-day workers mean many leaders are still playing catch-up. This isn’t the issue, however, because companies must be adaptable if they are to attract and retain talented team members.
Nearly all of us, at some time or another, have worked in a toxic environment with little to show for an employee benefits programme. Some companies do it well, some not so good, and others don’t really have anything set in stone.
Now, more than ever, employee benefits are being given the ‘essential’ status by many forward-thinking leaders who want their business to thrive. COVID-19 may have accelerated some employee benefits (like remote working) to new heights, but as burnout and stress continue to cause havoc in society, more needs to be done.
With this huge push for more employee benefits, comes mistakes. Mistakes we’d rather you know about when it’s time to restructure employee benefits programmes in your own company.
On that note, here are 8 of the most common mistakes companies, big and small, continue to make with their employee benefits programme...
Are your benefits relevant to employees?
To begin this list, relevancy is a huge consideration to make before starting or restructuring your employee benefits programme. It’s no secret that employee benefits cost money, and if certain benefits pose no relevance, or solve problems/improve the lives of employees, what reason should companies spend money on them?
Of course, this totally depends on what relevance each employee sees in a benefit, but this is for leaders to consider first and foremost. Yes, having dog-friendly offices is great, but if most don’t have pets, this makes it an irrelevant benefit.
Our advice to leaders is to ask and listen to the demands of employees; what benefits would they see value and relevance in? Employee benefits focused around health and wellbeing, financial wellbeing or reducing stress and burnout are safe bets for leaders.
Are your benefits too generic?
Moving on to generic benefits, these are just as bad as irrelevant benefits, but for a slightly different reason. Not only are they irrelevant to your team, but they’ve worn thin throughout your team’s careers; largely due to being over-offered everywhere they’ve worked.
One that stands up to this definition is ‘flexible working arrangements”, yes, this is a great option for an employee benefit programme, but in modern times, it’s breezed past in the list. Don’t even get us started on “free tea and coffee!”
The best way business leaders can prevent themselves from investing in generic and meaningless employee benefits is to ask the question “what measurable return will my team see from this benefit?” or “Is my employee benefits programme too limited and should it be customisable?”
In fact, according to an SHRM article, a survey based on 3,000 employees found the following to be true on offering non-traditional benefits:
- Improvement in morale (85% of respondents)
- Improvement in company culture (73% of respondents)
- Improvement in retention (82% of respondents)
Does your culture discourage use of the employee benefits programme?
You may be surprised to hear that some companies simply discourage employees from using the employee benefits programme. Whether that’s through a lack of awareness or toxic work culture, some employees can feel guilty if leaders do not express their encouragement to use employee benefits.
For example, in an environment where people feel obliged to work every given minute of the day, they aren’t likely to get away from their desk and play on that ping-pong table the company invested in three years ago.
Yes, every company can have a great employee benefits programme, but discouraging its use is like throwing money (and your employee's wellbeing) into a bottomless pit of job dissatisfaction - no fun at all!
Leaders can combat the underutilisation of employee benefits by doing the following:
- Raise awareness of the employee benefits available to team members
- Normalise use of employee benefits so people don’t feel guilty
- Make employee benefits easily accessible to each and every employee
According to a Glassdoor article, a survey from Project Time Off found “65% of employees reported that they hear nothing, mixed messages, or discouraging messages about taking time off from managers” and “80% said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would be likely to take more time off.”
Are your employee benefits outdated in the modern workplace?
In some cases, companies get stuck in a rut of offering the same benefits as part of their employee benefits programme. Typically, this comes down to a handful of reasons, but the number appears to be a lack of attention to putting people at the forefront of a business.
When leaders neglect employee benefits, they go stale, become outdated and are rarely used by team members. The global COVID-19 pandemic has created such a shift in the way of hybrid working, that flexible working hours now feels like it’s lagging behind.
What companies need to remember is that employee benefits are usually listed in a job spec - and there isn’t a lot of talent out there that wouldn’t see outdated employee benefits as red flags to much larger culture issues.
This point circles back to the shift towards health and wellbeing benefits demanded by younger generations in the workplace. In fact, 84% of Gen Z employees believe current employee benefits packages don’t suit them or their needs - instead choosing to seek more wellbeing and lifestyle benefits.
Ultimately, leaders mustn’t get left behind with employee benefits, because success and growth comes down to a healthier, happier team, and one that sticks around long enough to achieve this.
What’s in it for your employees?
Some companies offer a wide range of great employee benefits. Despite this, a lot of them aren’t as beneficial to employees and leaders might believe. On the surface, it might seem like employees are being very picky, but if they’re unhappy with the benefits available to them, it will be made known in their work ethic.
For example, while paid dental care and other similar benefits are great initiatives, they just don’t make all that much difference to the everyday lives of employees, and if anything, should be seen more like a must-have than a real perk.
Employee benefits should enable staff to progress in areas of their life, not simply help them pay healthcare bills. While employers may think it’s a nice addition, team members just won’t see the direct impact it has on their life.
Other examples of employee benefits that go unappreciated include commuting costs, petrol allowances etc. The best way for leaders to avoid this is to think “How will this benefit directly benefit the day-to-day life of my team?”
Does your employee benefits programme consider millennials?
Finally, leaders who embrace the fact millennials are quickly becoming the majority of the UK workforce, will see their business succeed and grow.
With more than half of the workforce being millennials, it’s hard to ignore that an employee benefits programme must include what’s valuable to this segment of workers. Millennials spend more than $3,000 annually on healthcare, and 81% regularly exercise, compared to 61% of Boomers.
Therefore, it’s safe to assume millennials value healthier lifestyles and exercising. Leaders who really understand these statistics will begin to tailor their employee benefits programme to accommodate. After all, it’s healthcare, fitness and wellbeing that will become more in-demand for employee benefits in the near future.
Our advice for companies is to consider subsidised fitness class and gym memberships, in-office yoga sessions, and team-wide fitness challenges. This barely scratches the surface of health and wellbeing benefits leaders could offer.
Ultimately, this is the direction employee benefits are heading for 2022 and beyond. Whether leaders support this or not will prove difficult in their efforts to attract and retain talent - employee wellbeing is the new employee benefits.
Now that we’ve cleared this up, we might know how you can affordably offer more than a thousand wellbeing benefits for healthier, happier teams.
How to offer a meaningful employee benefits programme
It’s obvious from the above that offering a meaningful employee benefits programme is no easy feat. In fact, sometimes it takes both time and resources that a lot of companies just don’t have.
That said, the pursuit for better organisational culture and employee benefits doesn’t need to end there. At Heka, we’ve always made it our mission to make health and wellbeing accessible and affordable to everyone that uses our platform.
What we’ve learnt over the years, is that huge growth is coming for employee wellbeing as part of a wider employee benefits programme.
An idea was born and we now offer 1000s of wellbeing experiences through our platform. This includes everything from yoga classes, therapy sessions, life coaching, 1-2-1 financial wellbeing appointments and so much more.