How to be a small business that offers big employee benefits

A quick summary:

There’s often a misconception around the effort of an employee benefits package and the size a business needs to be for it to succeed. Let’s make one thing clear - every business is capable of building a great employee benefits package. Leaders simply need to know cost-effective employee benefits ideas, and how to tailor an employee benefits package to a specific team. 

It’s 2022, and in the aftermath of a global pandemic, we’re seeing employers up and down the country getting creative with their employee benefits packages. Not only did the pandemic force us to approach workplace environments with a new perspective, but forward-thinking leaders are coming up with outside-the-box ways to build healthier, happier teams - and rightly so. 💪

After all, it’s these very initiatives that will help businesses win during the ‘Great Resignation’. A time of huge staff turnover and career switching, as employees see brighter futures and better benefits elsewhere. One of these initiatives is the working arrangement debate. What exactly makes for the perfect work-life balance? Is it hybrid working, a remote-first approach, or do people really enjoy working permanently in an office environment? 🤔

If one thing’s for certain, it’s that both Millennials and Gen Z workers now make up a large portion of the UK workforce. And characteristically, these generations demand better flexibility when it comes to their working lives; in comparison to their parents’ generation. Therefore, hybrid and remote working models will gradually become the norm for companies who recognise this demand from talented applicants. 🚀

Ultimately, the pandemic has proven that robust employee benefits packages do not need to be reserved for tech giants and global leaders. Those with little more than a handful of employees and a compassionate culture can compete against those with ample resources to support on-campus gyms, free snacks, and subsidised healthcare. 🤚

Times are changing, and companies who blame their lack of knowledge, time, or financial resources are to be left behind their counterparts of similar scale. Employee benefits do not need to break the bank, and that’s exactly what we’re here to explore. Below, HR professionals and leaders alike will find out which employee benefits contribute to healthier, happier teams, without emptying their pockets. 

Cost-effective employee benefits for small businesses 💰

99% of businesses in the UK are considered small-to-medium businesses, meaning they employ a maximum of 249 employees. 📊

For this very reason, it’s incredibly important for small and medium-sized businesses to realise the degree of competition they have when it comes to employee benefits packages. So, if you’re an owner of one of the 5.6 million SMEs in the UK, read on for more.

Volunteering Leave 

When it comes to Millennials and Gen Z workers, as many as 70% regularly volunteer, compared with baby boomers, 61%, and Generation X, 63%. These surprising statistics tell us all we need to know. That volunteering opportunities are an appealing employee benefit for workers of a younger generation. What’s more, they don’t exactly break the bank for businesses, and instead, help leaders feel like they are giving back to the community through their workforce. 

In a time when helping others became extremely vital, the pandemic proved that volunteering is a great way to support the local community. Now that the world feels a lot safer, offering paid leave for staff to volunteer is a great initiative. 

Holiday trading 🏖

Moving on, holiday trading is another cost-effective and practical employee benefit for you to offer team members. Why? Simply put, holiday trading gives employees the opportunity to buy and sell annual leave. In both scenarios, businesses do not lose out greatly. In fact, in the case of buying holiday allowance, companies can actually save money.  💸

What’s clear is your team as a whole are likely to appreciate the choice of buying or selling holiday. Whether it’s to attend a last-minute event, go on a spontaneous vacation, or to sell their annual leave for some cash at Christmas, this employee benefit is a great initiative.

Milestone sabbaticals 🌍

Talking of annual leave, sabbaticals are another form of holiday allowance but are few and far between across businesses in the UK. However, it appears sabbatical leave is growing in popularity, with more than 2,000 searches on Google each month for “sabbatical leave”. 

It’s common practice for employees to apply for either paid or unpaid leave of up to a month or two. In most cases, it’s employees that are looking to go travelling for a while, without losing their position upon their return. 

While sabbaticals could have a negative impact on business growth and performance, being a person short, this kind of freedom and rest gives people the chance to rejuvenate ready for a strong return to work. 

For many sabbatical providers, this is offered to employees who have been within a company for more than 1 to 5 years. Thus, employees must demonstrate loyalty and commitment to employers before they are able to apply for a sabbatical. 

Sabbaticals can improve employee wellbeing and also do not cost an arm and leg for employers - that’s if the sabbatical applicant’s role doesn’t leave a lot of responsibilities unhandled. 

Overall, milestone sabbaticals should be considered for employees of so many years, and makes for a great addition to your employee benefits package.

Financial Wellbeing Programmes 🤑

Financial wellbeing programmes, courses, and workshops are set to be a big hit with employees in 2022. In fact, we included financial wellbeing in our Wellbeing Trends report, which you can download here

In the past half-decade, the world has developed a ‘buy now, pay later’ approach to everyday purchases. This poor money management, coupled with student loans, and the ever-rising cost of living is catching thousands of consumers out and causing millions to fall into debt. 

Because of this, people are looking for solutions like never before. Employees are now turning to their workplace to provide education, workshops, and some cases financial support for things like student loan repayments. 💳

Understandably, offering reimbursements for student loans is not a cost-effective employee benefit for SMEs. In fact, it should be reserved for big businesses with huge resources available. However, setting up financial coaching, workshops, or reimbursing online courses, can be your contribution to the cause. 

Our financial circumstances have an impact on our health and wellbeing, and while it’s true money doesn’t buy happiness, a lack of financial stability most certainly brings unhappiness. 💵

If team members are struggling financially, sooner or later their negativity will spill over into their careers. This can be a cause for concern for your business, but helping employees could mean the difference in saving your business from ruin. 

Perhaps not free, and unless done properly, not very affordable, financial wellbeing programmes can be a great option for your reinvented employee benefits package.

Personal Development 🎓

Similar to financial wellbeing programmes, personal development refers to courses and classes your team can attend to upskill. This is one of the most promising and cost-effective employee benefits, as it’s a win-win for both employees and leaders. 

In one study, it was found that more than 74% of employees believe career progression is important, which demonstrates just how crucial this employee benefit is to employees. Not only does it improve job satisfaction, but it also retains talented people. Career progression is one of the most sought-after benefits for employees already in roles, and failing to help people improve will see many running for the door. 🚪

Going back five or ten years ago, helping employees to upskill and progress in their careers wasn’t so cost-effective; however with the growing online course industry, websites like Udemy and Skillshare have made this possible. And in most cases, some of these courses don’t cost much more than £50. 

If you haven’t already, this employee benefit must be part of your new employee benefits package. It’s already a very popular employee benefit, which means if you’re not helping your team members move forward, your competitors are.

1000s of employee wellbeing benefits in 1 platform 💚

Heka, (translated in ancient Egyptian religion as “magic” or “magical power”) truly does work wonders for employees.  🙌

Through our extensive research into employee wellbeing improvement, we’ve created a single wellbeing platform with more than a thousand experiences, products, and services - all designed to improve both mental and physical wellbeing in the workplace.

Heka members have everything from life coaching to axe throwing available at their fingertips. Both virtual and on-site classes and sessions are bookable on Heka for users, and we’re constantly receiving great feedback. 💬

In fact, you can read some of our case studies here. Especially Centtrip who recently said they consider Heka to be a dream to manage for employee wellbeing. 

Our wellbeing platform truly is the employee benefits answer for a hands-off approach for leaders. 

Book a demo and speak with our wellbeing experts! 👋