The ultimate guide to employee benefits in 2022

A quick summary:

In the past few years, employee benefits have been turned upside down - and possibly for the best. Forward-thinking companies have begun to embrace a wellbeing culture and do away with the toxic working environment that has haunted employees for far too long. ⌛️

On reflection, it seems the COVID-19 pandemic has been pivotal in this transformation of a healthier, happier workplace. As millions of people felt the stress, anxiety, and depression of recent years, conversations on mental and physical health were brought to the surface in offices and on zoom calls across the U.K. 📍

The solution? 🤔

Good managers acknowledged, but great leaders listened and continued to refine what work looks like in the future when we consider health and wellbeing. 💪

This has been most evident in the rising demand for better health and wellbeing benefits at work, with more and more of us wanting initiatives that can improve our lives. 

Whether it’s financial wellbeing, family planning, parental benefits, or mental health programmes, it seems societies shifting priorities make for a brighter future. 

If you’d like to explore the employee wellbeing landscape in much more detail, make sure to check out our blog post on the guide to employee wellbeing in 2022

Alternatively, we also published our 39-page report on the employee wellbeing landscape for you to download here. 🚀

As we move forward with employee benefits in 2022 and beyond… 

  • How can we learn from the past for a better future? 
  • What can leaders learn from Netflix, Microsoft, and Salesforce for employee benefits?
  • What are the most common employee benefits to offer your team?
  • How your employee benefits scheme is actually hindering growth and increasing turnover

What are employee benefits?

The best place to start with any guide is a definition! So, what exactly are employee benefits? The CIPD defines employee benefits as “non-cash provisions within the rewards package.” ✍️

Cambridge Dictionary defines employee benefits as “an advantage such as a pension plan, health insurance, or a car, that a company offers to employees in addition to their pay.”

Both definitions are very much accurate, and it’s often the case that an employee benefits scheme is designed to typically achieve two things in the workplace:

✅ Motivate employees to achieve organisational goals 

✅ The desire to take care of employee wellbeing

Yet, whether leaders achieve these two reasons depends on the strength of their employee benefits package and how much they adopt a people-first approach to business. 👀

A brief history of employee benefits 📖

While it sounds like a brighter future is on the horizon for employee benefits, the past 100 years has seen incentives for employees continuously revolutionise how we work. 💻

At the turn of the 20th century, benefits for the general population were introduced by the state, including sick pay, pensions, unemployment insurance, along with the National Health Service.

Fast-forward to the 1970s, and the efforts to control pay growth saw companies create generous benefits provisions to support their employees. 

In the 80s, and ever since, the tax regime around employee benefits has tightened, which has caused limited appeal of certain benefits over cash. 💰

In the present workplace, businesses have begun to take a more individualistic approach to how they reward their employees - with the COVID-19 pandemic driving even more pressure on employers for support on mental health, healthcare benefits and better sick pay. 🤒 

This brief history of employee benefits simply scratches the surface of how employee benefits have revolutionised the workplace and the ever-changing demands of employers by society. 

It’s safe to say, however, that employee benefits packages are changing and for the better. There was a time when these initiatives to support healthier and happier employees simply didn’t exist.

5 of the most common employee benefits and why you should offer them to your team

As we’ve established, employee benefits schemes are changing, and people are demanding better work-life balance. Below are the five most common employee benefits of 2022 and beyond.

#1 Health, fitness, and wellbeing incentives for employees

We’ve said before and we’ll say it again, society is gradually becoming more health-conscious and fitness-driven. Therefore, this must be reflected in your employee benefits scheme of 2022 and beyond. 

If you want to impress your team and future talent, you must accommodate for wellness-minded  people with your employee benefits package. 

This includes offering mental health support, financial wellbeing, fitness incentives, and discounted healthcare/products.

Millennials are spending around £1,300 each year on health supplements, workout clothing, gym and fitness memberships, healthy meal plans, and more. 

Great leaders should see this as great data when reinventing their future-proofed employee benefits scheme.

#2 Tuition and career development

Tuition and career development go hand-in-hand with retention - people need purpose in their working lives, and purpose comes with progression. 

Great leaders understand that to motivate their employees, they must lay out a direction for the future. Without these opportunities and clarity, employees become disengaged and uninterested. 

Whether it’s reimbursing tuition fees, or upskilling your employees with online courses, you must support your team in their pursuits. Doing so shows a caring, and considered leadership style.

Not so long ago, tuition and career development were scarce in employee benefits packages, yet with the likes of Udemy, Codecademy, and Skillshare, the barrier to entry into this incentive for employees is easier than ever.

In 2020, 42% of organisations improved their reskilling/upskilling efforts after the COVID-19 outbreak, which shows the demand for better access to education remains high. But what are the benefits for employers? 

Well, not only are employees a lot more professionally equipped to take on new responsibilities at work, but 81% of employees say that upskilling/reskilling has boosted their productivity at work.

#3 Financial wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is fastly dominating the employee benefits package of thousands of forward-thinking companies. As it turns out, people are in desperate need of better financial understanding. 

More and more people are struggling with crushing debt and are looking to employers for financial support. 

The rise of “buy now, pay later” schemes are burdening people with financial worries that ultimately impact their happiness, resulting in weakened workplace performance.

This should worry leaders enough to take action and help their employees lead financially healthier lives. 

By doing so, employers may see a boost in performance and productivity, as financial worry can sit at the back of our minds constantly eating away at any energy we would otherwise pour into doing our best work.

The Money & Pensions Services reported that in 2018, 11% of U.K. workers experienced a fall in productivity at some point the preceding three years, as a result of poor financial circumstances.

#4 Flexible hours and working arrangements

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything it’s that people want flexibility with when they work and how they work. 

Globally, 16% of companies are now remote, and this figure is expected to rise substantially in the next decade, as leaders realise both productivity and performance aren’t impacted by working remotely. 

It seems that more and more people are seeking out careers with remote or hybrid working opportunities, with 74% of professionals expecting remote work to become the new norm in the near future.

The pandemic has proven that people are able to work remotely, and while it comes with its own set of challenges, any great leader who wants to future-proof their employee benefits scheme should definitely not overlook this.

#5 Family Planning / Parental Benefits

Finally, there has been a huge surge in support for employees that focus on family planning and parental benefits. 

It’s become increasingly apparent that employees want access to employee benefits schemes that not only support them but their families too. 

This has been seen in the demand for fertility treatment and support, the rise of surrogacy, and also in supporting employees with common childcare expenses. 

As Gen Z and millennials reach the age of having children, while also becoming the largest segment of the workforce, leaders must react to the demand for family planning and parental benefits. 

This stage in our lives can often be a difficult one to navigate and comes with its own ups and downs. For example, employees who are dealing with fertility issues often don’t speak up about their problems and suffer in silence. 

This leads to a rise in presenteeism and can have a detrimental impact on business performance and employee productivity. 

As a leader, it’s important to create an open environment to fertility, family planning and issues faced by parents - that way, you can cater your employee benefits scheme to support these people in the workplace. 

How employee benefits can hinder growth and increase turnover

Despite the term ‘employee benefits’ sounding all singing and dancing, they can actually hinder business growth, drive unhappiness at work and increase staff turnover. 📊

Like anything in business, your employee benefits package has to be done correctly. With faults and flaws in your offering of incentives for employees, you may be doing more bad than good. 👀

Our complete guide to employee benefits wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging what you should avoid when it comes to an employee benefits scheme.

Unlimited annual leave policies ❌

Often portrayed as the holy grail of an employee benefits package, unlimited annual leave can be a very messy initiative to offer your team. 

This is because, although it sounds great on the surface, many employees are too concerned about how much annual leave they take and how often they take it. 🏝

Resulting in people taking less than they should to avoid burnout and thrive in the workplace on well-rested breaks. 🤒

While it sounds like the ideal scenario for a toxic workplace, you won’t be surprised to hear that presenteeism can skyrocket, as people suffer all kinds of exhaustion symptoms on a slope to complete burnout.

This of course should be taken on a case-by-case basis, as unlimited annual leave can work for some companies, depending on how this initiative is managed. However, for a large majority of employers, this is one to leave out of your employee benefits scheme of 2022. 

Not accommodating for a younger workforce 👩‍💻

As Gen Z makes up around 20% of the workforce, and millennials around 50%, employers mustn’t get caught out offering outdated and stale employee benefits.

The younger generations of the workplace are health-conscious and fitness-driven, with more of a focus on being environmentally and socially responsible. 

Benefits such as discounted fast-food won’t last much longer in the eyes of those in their 20s and 30s, who are looking for leadership support for subsidised gym memberships and healthy meal delivery incentives. 

As a leader, you must recognise the shifting demand for healthier lifestyles and empower employees in this aspect of their lives.  

Especially considering the healthier we are, the happier we are at work and our productivity and performance also improve. 

What’s more, with around 32.5M working days lost in the U.K. alone due to ill-health and injury each year, helping your team to lead healthier, happier lives can boost employee retention and decrease the chances of absenteeism/presenteeism. 

Discouragement of an employee benefits scheme

Now, this particular point might sound bizarre, but some toxic workplace environments either actively or passively discourage the usage of an employee benefits package. 

In most instances, it isn’t that employers simply don’t offer an employee benefits package, it’s that they are either discouraged or aren’t spoken about enough by leadership teams.

In one survey, 49% of employees reported that they do not understand the employee benefits materials provided to them by their employer.

Another example of discouraging incentives for employees is how a lot of people simply don’t take enough breaks throughout the year due to the pressures of workload and managers. 

According to the Independent, in a survey of around 2,000 participants, six in ten feel they don’t take enough time off. 

That’s not all, as many companies offer other incentives such as shorter days, or alternating shorter weeks, yet, have built up a culture of being “always-on” when it comes to working. 

As a leader, it’s your job to ensure employees feel they can take their entitled annual leave, and feel as though they can make use of any of the employee benefits you offer.

Irrelevant to your workforce 👷

Moving on to relevancy to your workforce. Unfortunately, too often employees are given an employee benefits package that is too generic to be of any interest to them. 

In an IFEBP survey, 31% of respondents said they don’t perceive any value in the employee benefits scheme offered to them. And it’s safe to assume that a large percentage of this comes down to one of three reasons 

Irrelevant ❌

For example, remote working employees probably aren’t going to benefit from a cycle-to-work scheme if they are based 25 miles from the office. 

Outdated ❌

Using just a gym membership to tick the wellbeing box for a company’s employee benefits package has become an outdated trend. 

With a growing workforce of health-conscious people, companies offering very little in the way of employee wellbeing benefits are slowly being recognised as outdated.

Too generic ❌

Generic employee benefits such as subsidised life insurance, and dental care are great incentives for employees but feel very generic and mundane. 

A lot of these rarely have any impact on the day-to-day lives of employees and for that reason, they’re very often met with an unimpressed workforce who want tailored employee benefits.

Employers who are serious about offering a meaningful employee benefits scheme and want to support healthier, happier employees, must dig deeper into what their team needs.

It isn’t enough to assume your business is offering a superb range of benefits for employees without analysing if they’re being used or not. 

If your team are openly sporty types of people who enjoy going to the gym in their spare time, their voucher codes for fast-food restaurants might not be appealing at all - yet, the opposite can also be true.

If your team is openly non-sporty, and enjoys shopping and fine dining, there’s a chance subsidised gym memberships just won’t cut it. 

Leaders who truly understand what brings happiness to their employees know how to build robust employee benefits packages. As a leader, you must listen to your team, and be direct with your questions about what they want from employee benefits.

Ten questions to ask your team when refining your employee benefits scheme

Consider asking your team these ten questions when refining your current employee benefits packages - that way, you’ll have a much better understanding of where you are at, and what direction you need to take your incentives for employees.

  1. What are your hobbies and interests outside of work? 
  2. How well do you understand your current employee benefits package?
  3. How happy are you with the current employee benefits package?
  4. What three existing benefits would you keep?
  5. Do you believe your current annual leave entitlement is sufficient?
  6. Would you recommend working here based on the benefits available?
  7. Are you happy with current career development opportunities?
  8. Are there any employee benefits you have never used?
  9. Are you satisfied with working arrangements, i.e working hours, workplace flexibility?
  10. Are there any comments, criticisms, or suggestions you would like to share?

3 companies leading a healthier, happier future with employee benefits packages ✅

They say one of the best ways to succeed is to learn from the greats - well, it seems this can also be linked to the leaders in employee benefits too. 

Below, we’ve discussed three of the most well-recognised companies that provide employees with ample high-quality employee benefits packages. 

Microsoft 🥇 

Starting with Microsoft, founded by Bill Gates in 1996, this company prides itself on not only building a healthy workforce but emphasises creating an environment of community and wellbeing.

For many employees, medical, dental, and vision benefits are the reality of working at Microsoft, while on-campus clinics are also never too far from desks.

What’s more, Microsoft does an extremely good job of offering extensive networking and social events for employees to build long-term relationships at work.

As mentioned in our top five employee benefits, Microsoft has also been known to offer adoption, fertility, and immigration support.

Netflix 🥈 

The streaming giant that is Netflix has never been too far from positive headlines of its employee benefits schemes. 

Netflix has been known to provide generous annual leave allowance, a stock option program, and extremely competitive salaries which they consider “top of the market”. 

Furthermore, Netflix supports parents with substantial parental leave, flexible working hours, and meals on the house for office-based employees. 

Netflix really is one of the major players when it comes to quality employee benefits schemes, and their long list of incentives for employees couldn’t go unacknowledged.

Salesforce 🥉

Last but certainly not least, Salesforce. Founded in California in 1999, this innovative company has built up authority in the CRM space over the past couple of decades. 

Outside of its operations, it has been known for its people-centric approach to employee benefits packages.

This approach is displayed in its medical, dental, and vision programs (similar to that of Microsft); along with a range of life and disability insurances available to employees.

According to Candor, Salesforce has one of the most generous parental leave policies in the tech world. Primary caregivers are 26-week leave after having a child, with secondary caregivers provided with 12-week parental leave. Salesforce also supports employees with adoption, surrogacy, and fertility. 

Finally, Salesforce also offers a $100 wellbeing reimbursement program for nutritionists, yoga and fitness classes, and have also recently acquired a ranch in California to use as an office and retreat for employees.

Other notable employee benefits leaders

Microsoft, Netflix, and Salesforce are just a few of the successful companies offering an employee benefits scheme with a people-first approach to business - here are some of the big names making a difference when it comes to employee benefits packages: 

  • Starbucks
  • Capital One
  • Facebook
  • Airbnb
  • HubSpot
  • The Body Shop
  • Costco Wholesale
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Sage
  • Spotify

As a leader, you should draw inspiration from the companies above, and think how you can replicate some of their incentives for employees with your budget. 

Granted, it’s not always possible to match the likes of Facebook, Netflix and other tech giants, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to build a people-centric approach to your employee benefits scheme. 

Using Heka to offer 1000s of wellbeing benefits to your team 💚

At Heka, we’re building one of the most powerful employee benefits platforms with a twist… 👀

It’s 100% focused on health and wellbeing - and nothing more!

With so many employee benefits platforms offering the likes of discounted fast-food, free coffee vouchers, and consumer tech, we think health and wellbeing are vastly missed out. 🚴‍♀️

Through Heka, employees have access to more than a thousand wellbeing experiences, services, and products with brands that they all know and love. 💪

Regardless of where in the U.K. users are, our employee benefits platform delivers virtual live yoga instructors, text-based online therapy sessions, virtual consultations with nutritionists and life coaches. 

As for deliveries straight to employees’ doorsteps, Hello Fresh, Mindful Chef, and Fitbit are all majorly popular with our users. 💻

Forward-thinking companies are beginning to recognise the growing importance (and demand) of wellbeing in our everyday lives - along with its impact on our professional lives. 🙌

Companies who want to build sustainably healthier and happier employees are turning to Heka for the solution to employee wellbeing. 🧠

If you’d like to discuss how Heka can help revolutionise your employee wellbeing strategy, why not book a demo with one of our wellbeing experts

They will be more than happy to walk you through our employee benefits platform and explain all the great benefits that your team can receive through Heka.