Choosing the right employee perks: everything a Head of People needs to know

The world of work is changing fast – and employee perks are changing along with it. At least they should be. And as a Head of People, you have the power to move everything in the right direction. 

Employee expectations are evolving. New forms of delivery are emerging. Last year’s gold standard has faded to bronze, and will soon become irrelevant. To stay competitive in the talent market, our employee perks need to be ahead of the curve.

There are more options now than ever. You’ll find an app solution or service that answers almost every employee concern. With so much on offer, how do you prioritise what’s important? And are there any trump cards among the pack?

 

From board to warehouse

One of the challenges facing fast growing companies – or any organisation with a diverse workforce – is how to offer a benefits package that meets everyone’s expectations.

There are some obvious benefits that affect everyone from the top to the bottom, like annual leave purchase. But because they are obvious, it’s difficult to do much that’s different from the next company. You can research your competitors and find the key benchmarks, but sooner or later you’re going to have to answer the trickier questions.

To get a benefits package that works for everyone – from homeworkers to onsite workers, senior to junior employees, ambitious graduates to soon-to-be retirees – you need to think holistically.

Those on the older end of the spectrum are more likely to want health benefits, while young people will want support for career development and managing their finances. Meanwhile the struggle to get on the property ladder can be a concern for anyone who isn’t on a high income. 

 

Creating personalised support

Sometimes, we can end up supporting the needs of the largest pool of people. This might appear efficient, but ultimately it causes long term inefficiencies. Choosing a one-size-fits-all benefits package means that the people who don’t fit the norm could leave. 

Employee surveys can help to highlight the cracks we’re missing. But how do we fill them? How can you tailor benefits to such a wide spectrum of employees?

One-to-one support can set you apart here. You can offer this through face-to-face coaching – whether in the areas of mental health or leadership development – or through app-assisted one to one support. At Bippit, for instance, our software matches a dedicated financial coach to each individual employee – and enables them to message their expert at any time. 

This type of service can keep you ahead of the curve. As Anne Richter, North American co-leader of Willis Towers Watson, says, “Companies are looking for 24/7, at-your-fingertips, on-your-phone kind of support options for their employees.”

 

The wide world of wellbeing

To create sticky employee relationships, we have to tackle stress. Companies are realising this more than ever, though realisation doesn’t always equate to the right action. They know that reducing stress increases loyalty and productivity. But they often end up managing stress instead of reducing it.

We definitely need to have reactive measures in place, otherwise we won’t catch those struggling the most. But we also need to take preventative steps so we don’t miss employees who might not speak up about their problems.

The present climate doesn’t help. Now that we’re living on messaging boards and video calls, it’s easier than ever to neglect difficult conversations. Once again coaches have a part to play here, opening up a dialogue that might otherwise never begin.

But of all the elephants in the room, the largest, loudest and most forgotten of all, is financial stress.

 

Financial stress – the unspoken struggle

Financial worries are at the root of much employee stress. It’s easy to dismiss them as a salary bracket or lifestage problem. But in truth they can affect anyone: the employee looking to retire soon, the worker wanting to start a family, the newly-graduated and newly-indebted, or newly divorced or bereaved. 

As outlined in a Deloitte report on employee mental health, one in four employees do not feel they earn enough to maintain a decent standard of living, one in five have trouble making ends meet, and one in three are worried about personal debt.

These issues can be particularly acute for the up and coming Gen Z. Close Brothers research found that 45% of employees aged 18-24 have suffered mental health problems as a result of money worries.

If companies can tackle these issues, if we can wipe out money worries, we’ll see the results in our retention. People are twice as likely to leave if they have financial stress, according to a Greensill report. That’s a lot of churn you could do without.

81% of millennials are attracted to a company that cares about their financial wellbeing. Whether you capture their attention depends on the actions you take. To learn more about how  capitalise on this often-forgotten opportunity, check out our free financial wellbeing guides.