Article by Liz Walker, Commercial Director, Distinctly
What are personalised flexible benefits?
Personalised flexible benefits are a new take on employee benefit models, where benefits are tailored to individual employees and their needs. This could be based on age, parental status or location – among other factors – to account for the differing needs of each employee. For smaller companies with smaller budgets, this may mean allowing staff to pick and choose from a limited range of benefits. However, for larger companies this can mean having entirely different options on offer, and packages for their employees based on what stage they’re at in life.
If you’re an employer and you’ve not previously heard of personalised flexible benefits, or have never felt it worth implementing them, this could be the time to rethink that decision for one simple reason: over 90% of your employees want them. If you don’t, then you may find yourself joining the ever-growing ranks of CEOs wondering why their staff turnover is so high.
So, why offer personalised flexible benefits?
The reason your employees want personalised flexible benefits is that they are individuals who need to feel valued in the workplace. This is easily addressed – offer them choice and treat them as an individual with unique needs.
This is especially true given that you are more likely than ever to be employing five different generations at once, including Gen-Z and the millennial generation. These generations in particular grew up with customisation available on tap – from coffee to technology. As a result, they expect employees to offer customisation of their benefits.
So what are the top five personalised flexible benefits that employees want?
Not every employee can physically get to their workplace every day, whether that’s due to disability, injury or caring responsibilities for children or elderly relatives. By offering flexible or remote working to your employees, you can retain their services when otherwise they may have been forced to leave the workforce.
- Flexible working
- Flexible hours allow employees with responsibilities or a busy social life to come and go when they need to, and then catch up on lost hours when they have the free time, for instance after their children are in bed. Of particular note is the fact that in a 2017 MetLife report, 75% of respondents were interested in flexible working. As such, it’s highly likely that your employees are interested in flexible working, even if they haven’t told you so yet!
- Remote working
- Not every employee functions best in a crowded or noisy office. Making remote working an option recognises this fact. While not necessarily viable every day due to the risk of loneliness, simply having the option can boost employee productivity. Importantly, this boost to employee productivity is tangible, with one Stamford University study showing up to a 30% improvement in productivity as a result of the option being available.
- Working from home can also be vital for carers or those with long commutes, and can even allow you to retain those who need to relocate. Offering the chance to work from home can make all the difference when you are trying to reduce staff turnover.
Even among younger workers, there’s serious anxiety about retirement age – most of those entering employment today expect their career to last until at least their 70th birthday. This anxiety is backed up by government statistics: a Department for Work and Pensions report shows more than 1 in 10 individuals past retirement age to be still employed. This has also translated into an 11.8% increase among the workforce who are saving for retirement according to a report by Scottish Widows. Given that your employees believe their normal pension alone cannot support them for the full duration of their lifespans, a pension top-up is likely to be a very appealing prospect.
In 2019, the New Economics Foundation – a UK based think tank – released a report that recommended the best way to increase productivity is to increase pay and the available holiday of employees. Given that the UK has one of the worst rates of productivity among international advanced nations, increased productivity is certainly desirable.
It is also widely acknowledged that by increasing the amount of leave available to your employees, they feel more relaxed at work, safe in the knowledge that if they require time off they can take a few days out. As such, it should come as no surprise that staff greatly appreciate the option of taking additional holiday as part of their benefits package.
Gym memberships and cycle to work schemes
While a somewhat traditional option, access to gym memberships or cycle to work schemes as part of a benefits programme is something that many employees still really appreciate. They feel like you, as their employer, genuinely care about their health and wellbeing. Helpfully, the government agrees that cycling to work is a good idea, and offers you tax exemptions on the creation of cycle to work schemes. While the government does not provide tax incentives for gym membership, they do strongly recommend offering exercise-related benefits to employees, citing cuts in sick days, and boosted productivity.
One surprisingly effective way to help your employees feel more valued is to offer them learning and development opportunities. This has the benefit of helping the employee feel like you are choosing to invest in them as an individual, allowing them to feel more secure, while also providing you with a more productive business asset in the long-term. Importantly, this training can also provide long-term benefits as these motivated employees often suggest improvements to streamline processes and systems based on their new knowledge.
There is, however, an important additional side to this desire for training. Research by Totaljobs has shown that 2 in every 3 UK workers has quit a job due to lack of development, so offering training and room for personal growth is clearly of vital importance to your employees. As an employer, offering free or subsidised education opportunities seems like an elegant solution to your problem. With the potential to gain a better-trained employee, who feels happier and more productive, what possible reason could you have to say no?