Employee benefits: an employer’s secret super power

Money talks. We all have bills to pay, so salary is naturally up there in the recruitment tool-box. But, money can’t buy happiness and work is about much more than a pay-slip.

As a recruitment agent in Hertfordshire, I regularly see how great employee benefits give businesses the edge – whether they’re looking for executives, administrators, customer service professionals, IT or marketing and sales specialists.

Done well, employee benefits attract and retain talent. That’s why savvy HR leaders and global organisations are expanding and personalising their benefits packages.

What do employees want?

In the talent war, companies use all kinds of tactics. The age of luring in Millennials with ping-pong tables and beanbags (thankfully) seems to be coming to an end.

What Millennials (and all employees) want are tangible, meaningful benefits. The challenge is working out what your employees want. If ping-pong isn’t top 10, ditch the paddles.

In the last decade, technology has blurred the home/work boundary. Staff are giving more; and expect more in return.

For many, quality of life is right up there with salary. People want work places to ease the pressure of busy lives and to enable happier, healthier lifestyles.

Employees also want good reasons to stay. The 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey reports that 49% of Millennials (born 1983-1994) given a choice, would quit their current jobs in the next two years. 84% would consider the gig economy, for its perceived better work/life balance, flexibility and earning potential. Employers must counter this with bold offers.

Gen Z (1995-2015) is the fastest growing part of our workforce. Raised with smartphones and Wi-Fi, flexible working is an expectation for these guys, not a perk.

Research by Namely, revealed that Gen Z values charity initiatives and volunteering opportunities at work. It is important to note that employee benefits aren’t solely about personal gain.

Lindsey Pollack, Millennial workplace expert comments, “The one perk Millennials value the most isn’t about getting – it’s about giving. Companies are finding that volunteering programs are helping attract and retain employees, especially Millennials.”

Whether you’re reviewing an existing scheme or creating new benefits, understanding these shifting trends, alongside listening to your employees is vital.

Activating your secret super power

Your first decision is, which model can you offer:

  • A fixed set of employee benefits
  • A suite of benefits from which employees pick and choose
  • A personalised benefits package for each individual

Once you know the scope of your offer, you’re well on the way.

  1. Check out your competitors

What are they offering? How can you match it, or better still, improve on their offer?

Employers who communicate their benefits well, really stand out. Check out a little inspiration.

  1. Gather your ideas

Power on: Free or simple to implement.

  • Happy holidays – starting at 25 days increasing up to 30 days, perhaps with scope for employees to buy or sell up to five days.
  • Birthday bonus a nice touch, this could be unpaid, in addition to annual leave.
  • Flex without fuss flexible working hours to accommodate appointments and home commitments.
  • Get social team activities and regular social events are good for morale and ensure everyone connects with the bigger picture.
  • Little treats – fresh fruit, free breakfasts or lunches, Perkbox scheme. Regular gestures make a difference.
  • Dress down if you don’t need to wear a suit, maybe don’t … especially if you want to create a more flexible, relaxed culture.

Power up: Need a little more thought or investment.

  • Bonus boosts this could be performance-related pay or a profit share scheme.
  • WFH it’s Friday – work from home Fridays for increased flexibility and building trust.
  • Go remote where possible consider full remote working for ultimate flexibility.
  • Sabbaticals following a set period of service.
  • Support parents enhanced parental leave is a winner for mums and dads.
  • Make a difference charity contribution schemes, paid time off for volunteering or fundraisers.
  • Future planning increase pension contributions in yearly increments.
  • Be healthier – gym membership, bike to work scheme, yoga or meditation sessions.
  • Take care Nutrition advice, mental health initiatives and on-site pampering. Be creative with well-being.
  • Be prepared Insurance – healthcare, life, critical illness – is increasingly expected in senior roles.
  • Inspire progression funded professional development plans for all.
  • Drop the debt student loan repayment schemes are gaining popularity in the US.
  1. Talk to your employees

Once you have a clear idea of what you could offer. Talk to your staff. What would improve their working day? Often it’s the little things that make a big difference. They will undoubtedly think of ideas you haven’t considered.

If you don’t have the time to undertake this research. We can help out.

  1. Hone your offer and tell everyone about it

Once you’re happy with your benefits package. Shout about it.

Communicate how it works, emphasising that it reflects what staff value. Internally, a positive launch and opportunities for staff to ask questions is key.

When you’re ready to recruit, lead with what a great place your company is to work. Don’t hide employee benefits in the depths of a job description. Make sure they shine!

  1. Revisit, refresh and remind

Fix a future date, perhaps annually, to review your employee benefits. Which are the most popular policies, what hasn’t worked so well? Have the needs of your staff changed?

Tweak, refine and then remind your employees what’s on offer.


We’d love to hear what employee benefits work well for your business. If you’re ready to activate or refresh your benefits package, then we’re here to help.

Luke Mason is co-founder of Ellis Mason. He works with employers across Hertfordshire, from Hitchin and Stevenage, to Welwyn and Hatfield matching brilliant candidates with the best opportunities in the commercial office sector.

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