Do flexible benefits really work for employees?

A quick summary:

  • What are flexible benefits? 🔍
  • Examples of flexi benefits in the workplace ✅
  • Do flexibe benefits really work for employees? 💬

Traditional employee benefits are dead – it’s as simple as that. Modern employees don’t want ping-pong tables, free beer Fridays or pizza. Yes, they’re enticing perks, but truly meaningful? There’s room for argument. 

Now, more than ever, employee benefits must represent something else. They’re not an addition to your offering, a minor detail of the employee experience – no. Your benefits are nearly as important as the wage you’re offering. 

That may sound bizarre, but the statistics don’t lie. In 2015, Glassdoor discovered that nearly 4 in 5 employees would choose better perks over a pay rise. As we move beyond the global pandemic, flexible benefits (also known as ‘flexi benefits’) have taken centre stage. 

The rise of hybrid working, coupled with the rejection of the office environment could be responsible for this. Leaders are divided on the subject. Some call for remote workers to be paid less, while others see it as a much-needed evolution of the role work plays in our life. 

An employee working in an office
what are flexible benefits in the workplace?

What are flexible benefits in the workplace?

Let’s begin with the basics. Flexible benefits are any perks and incentives that are flexible for employees. This might mean they can be used in various ways, or they operate flexibly. 

For example, Heka offers employees flexible choices around the benefits they want. There are more than 3,000 wellbeing experiences on Heka for users. This means that Heka is a flexible benefit because it can be used in various ways. 

That said, remote working is often also seen as a flexible benefit, but for a different reason. It provides employees with the option to work flexibly around their lives. The distinction is subtle, but ultimately, the term ‘flexible benefits’ or flexi benefits can refer to an array of perks and incentives in the workplace. 

Examples of flexible benefits for employees

So, we’ve learnt that flexible benefits are quite literally flexible – they come in all shapes and sizes. What are some prime examples of flexi benefits in the workplace? Let’s discuss a few of the most popular below. 

Similar read: 4 employee benefits that support your remote team

A male employee enjoying flexible benefits in the form of working from home.
Hybrid working arrangements

Hybrid working arrangements

First on the list is hybrid working arrangements. This refers to both remote and part office, part home-based roles.  As the world emerged from the global pandemic, hybrid working arrangements prevailed. Employees are now placing hybrid work high on their agenda for their next career move. 

It’s not hard to see the benefits of hybrid working. From better work-life balance to saving on commute costs, what’s not to love? Finally, the option to choose between the office and a home office means we’re able to spend more time with family and friends. 

The option to work flexible hours

There’s one other facet of flexible working that we must discuss – flexible working hours. Many organisations allow their employees to start and finish at hours that work best for them.

 For instance, employees with responsibilities while working from home – say childcare – are able to start later in the morning, and finish later in the evening. This kind of flexibility empowers employees to make their jobs work around their life, instead of vice-versa.

Similar read: 7 Considerations before choosing an employee benefits platform

Three colleagues looking at a tablet at their company's list of flexible benefits
Introducing employee benefits platform as a flexible benefits option

Benefit platforms and allowances

Moving on, let’s talk about employee benefits platforms like Heka, and allowances. A short scroll through jobs on LinkedIn reveals many employers are now offering allowances for just about everything. 

From work from home allowances to learning and development and other contributions to the costs of living. These are often considered flexible benefits, and rightly so. Anything that makes the lives of employees easier, should be recognised as an incentive. 

But what makes them flexible benefits? It’s rather simple really. Allowances mean employees aren’t restricted on what they choose to spend the money on. Although it may have to fall into the category of learning and development, or work from home equipment, the choice is theirs. From a course in personal finance to a brand new keyboard, it’s down to how they use their allowance. 

When it comes to employee benefits platforms, there are plenty out there to choose from. At Heka, we specifically focus on employee health and wellbeing. We see it as one of the most important areas of life, and it’s essential employees are happy and healthy to perform at their very best.

Generally speaking, however, employee benefits platforms provide access to an array of benefits and incentives for employees. Whether it’s experience, products or services, it should make the list of flexible benefits for employees. 

On Heka, our users can book from thousands of wellbeing experiences across more than 50+ categories, including mental health, outdoor activities, fitness classes, hobbies and crafts and more. 

While we're on the topic of allowances, let's discuss employee health cash plans. While these are allowances, they do fall into an outdated traditional means of offering employees an allowance.

What typical happens is employees will pay a monthly (often refundable) fee towards their cash plan. They can then claim everything from dental care, eyecare, mental health services and more.

However, and that's a big however, employee health cash plans are limited. They don't allow employees to truly focus on their personal wellbeing problems. There's only so much an employee cash plan covers. That's why we wouldn't necessarily consider them a flexible benefit, or an allowance. Especially give the vast scale of available partners on Heka, which exceeds more than 3,000.

A female employee stood in the office
Other flexi benefits that are available to employees

Annual leave, pensions and shares 

It’s not just the two flexible benefits above worth mentioning. In fact, many of us receive flexi benefits right now. Take annual leave, for example, a lot of companies offer the choice to sell and buy annual leave. 

Other organisations allow employees to invest in the business itself and sometimes offer employees the choice on how many shares they purchase. 

Finally, pension contributions. One of the most popular flexible benefits available to everyone. We control our contributions, and whether or not we make any contributions at all – that’s what makes it such a flexible benefit

Ultimately, there are many flexible benefits that you can use in your overall benefits package. Now, let’s turn our attention to whether flexible benefits really work?

Do flexible benefits truly work for employees?

The main question we want to explore here is whether flexi benefits work or not. Our simple answer is this… 

We believe flexible benefits can work, given they are analysed, refined and improved like any other HR operation. Organisations should really look at why they need to introduce more flexible benefits to their employees. 

Perhaps run employee surveys and find out what it is employees truly want in the workplace. Here’s a few questions to get you started on whether or not your company needs more flexi benefits: 

  1. Do my current benefits limit employees in their control or choice? 
  2. Can they regularly make use of certain benefits at any chosen time?
  3. What percentage of my current perks are considered flexible benefits?
  4. Has the company ever considered an employee benefits platform?
  5. Are there any benefits which we can turn into allowances for employees?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it should get the ball rolling on your company’s adoption of flexible benefits. 

Ultimately, some of the biggest businesses provide ample flexi benefits. It’s a driving force for hiring the best of talent. People want control, personalisation and choice over both their day-to-day experience and the incentives available to them.