Why a top Employee Benefits package is so important…
Stress and low job satisfaction are becoming pervasive trends within the UK workforce. In 2017/18, 74% of people reported feeling so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress at work has been attributed to excess workload and lack of support among other things, but it’s not always the job itself that causes people to experience stress at work.
Outside influences such as financial worries, mental and physical health problems and carer responsibilities all play a role in workplace stress. While these problems cannot be controlled within a work environment, employers can help their employees manage these problems with a comprehensive employee benefits package.
To help you put together a first-class employee benefits programme, we have compiled a list of the best employee benefits to add to your company scheme. These benefits and perks have been known to boost productivity, employee retention and job satisfaction.
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The 10 Best UK Employee Benefits
The best employee benefits aren’t always the most expensive or best-known, but they are benefits that can have a positive impact of an employee’s life both inside and outside of the workplace.
1. Group Income Protection
Why Employees Need Financial Support
Financial worries are one of the biggest causes of stress in the UK. More than 1 in 5 employees in the UK (22%) report feeling stressed as a result of money worries. This stress can lead to a noticeable decrease in productivity. However, there is a way to help employees feel more secure in their finances – some form of comprehensive sick pay policy so that they are reassured that they can continue drawing wages if they are not well.
While employees might not have any financial worries while they are still receiving a monthly salary, there is always the possibility of an employee falling ill and being unable to work. Without sufficient savings to tide them over, employees face the threat of being unable to afford their lifestyle and potentially needing to turn to government provided benefits just to pay their bills.
To give employees some extra support and prevent them from worrying about these worst case scenarios, there is Group Income Protection Insurance.
What is Group Income Protection?
Group Income Protection is an insurance policy purchased by an employer that will protect the finances of their employees if an illness or injury prevents them from working. If an employee covered by the scheme is diagnosed with a debilitating health problem and needs to take time off work to recover, a Group Income Protection policy will pay out monthly benefits to support them.
The benefits employees receive is relative to their salary, typically reaching up to around 65% of their pre-tax earnings. This will be paid out on a monthly basis after an initial waiting period. These benefits generally kick in after your company’s sick pay policy would stop paying out.
Depending on the policy options you choose, your employees can claim these benefits for up to 2 years or until they reach retirement age if their condition is serious enough to continually prevent them from returning to work. This depends how long term your policy is designed to be.
What are the Benefits?
The monthly benefits that employees receive from Income Protection can be vital for those who don’t have sufficient savings.
It’s not just income that employees receive from a Group Income Protection policy. Most Group Income Protection policies offer a range of complementary services for your employees to use to help them deal with disruptive health problems. These can include
- Virtual GP services
- Return-to-work consultation services and a range of tools and platforms to provide them with information and advice.
The support services given with Group Income Protection can be used at any time – even if the person has not made a claim – and a past survey has shown that 75% of employees supported by these services return to work within 6 months – Aviva.
A lot of these additional services can also do wonders to attract new employees and top talent. Virtual GP services, for example, are in high demand with over 40% of surveyed employees wanting access, yet only 30% of employees currently offer this service* with their employee benefits package.
Employee Benefits Consultant at Drewberry
*Thomsons – Employee Benefits Watch 2016
2. Group Health Insurance
Why Do Employees Want Health Insurance?
Serious health problems can prevent employees from working, cause difficulties at home, and degrade their mental wellbeing. It can affect all aspects of their life, so getting the help they need as soon as possible is a top priority. However, fast treatment is not always possible if the treatment you require is in particularly high demand from the NHS.
The NHS has been struggling to keep up with minimum waiting times for treatment in recent times. At the end of January 2018, there were 3.7 million people waiting for treatment after being referred, 11.8% of whom had been waiting for over 18 weeks.
These long wait times can put people’s lives on hold, particular if their condition is debilitating. Someone suffering from a particularly serious health problem may find themselves entirely incapacitated until they receive their treatment, which can worsen the situation.
What is Group Health Insurance?
Group Health Insurance allows your employees to receive certain medical treatments privately, covered largely by the policy. If they receive a diagnosis and referral for treatment from their GP, they will be able to use their referral to receive their treatment in a private facility and from a private practitioner.
Business Health Insurance is designed to cover the cost of private treatment for any acute health problems. Unlike a Personal Health Insurance policy, employees may be able to get cover for pre-existing conditions providing the group covered by the scheme is large enough and the right medical underwriting method is chosen.
Medical History Disregarded is a type of underwriting that disregards the medical history of the persons covered by the policy and will cover them for any acute health conditions. This type of underwriting is usually reserved for Group Health Insurance policies that cover a larger number of employees.
What Are the Benefits of Group Health Insurance?
Group Health policies are mainly used to speed up the process of receiving treatments by avoiding long NHS waiting lists. Private treatments are known to be delivered considerably faster than many treatments provided by the NHS and have the added benefits of a private room, more control over the time and location of appointments, and no limits on visiting hours.
Some Group Health policies offer options to cover the families of employees as well. This can be a great source of stress relief for employees that worry about the health of their loved ones.
If an employer adds Outpatient Treatment to a Group Health policy for an additional premium, employees will also be entitled to
- Private consultations
- Diagnostic tests
- Outpatient therapies and more depending on the level of cover offered by the provider.
In addition, while Health Insurance cannot cover chronic conditions, a group policy will be able to help individuals with chronic conditions seek help for acute symptoms of that chronic condition. This can make long-standing health problems easier to manage and improve the quality of life for some employees that may find their symptoms getting in the way of their productivity.
3. Group Life Insurance
Why Do Employees Need Life Insurance?
In 2017, the average cost of a funeral was £3,784 while the average cost of specifically a burial funeral was as much as £4,257 – Royal London 2017
In the UK today, most families aren’t able to survive on only a single parent’s salary. Employment rates for parents has continued to increase, with mothers especially showing higher employment rates than ever. This means that if one partner passes away, the surviving parent may struggle to afford to continue their lifestyle.
One way in which employers can settle some of these concerns and support their employees is to provide Group Life Insurance.
What Is Group Life Insurance?
Group Life Insurance is a company organised group insurance scheme that promises a lump sum to an employee’s family if they pass away or develop a terminal illness while employed by the company.
When an employee passes away or is diagnosed with a terminal illness, a claim is made to the insurer who then pays to the employer a decided amount. Group Life Insurance policies usually pay out 2-4 times the employee’s annual salary, but it is up to the employer to decide how much cover they would like to give. Providing the cover doesn’t exceed the free cover limit, there is no underwriting involved.
The employer is then able to distribute the Life Insurance payout to the employee’s family via a company-owned trust, meaning there’s no inheritance tax for the family to worry about. This payment can be used to cover a funeral, pay off loans, or help a family cover their everyday expenses while they adjust.
What Are the Benefits?
Only 36% of people reported having a Life Insurance policy when we conducted our 2017 survey, with cost being one of the most common reasons people give for not having one.
Group Life Insurance policies are typically inexpensive for employers compared to a lot of other employee benefits, yet can be a highly appealing addition to an employee benefits plan.
Also known as Death in Service it will usually offer some additional benefits and services as well that are useful to employers as well as employees and their families. Some of the benefits offered by top UK insurers include bereavement counselling for the family, access to will writing services, legal advice, and helplines.
Employers can also benefit from tax relief when they buy a Group Life Insurance policy. Death In Service is not a benefit in kind for an employee, while it’s usually possible for a company to offset Death in Service Insurance premiums against corporation tax.
Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry
4. Flexible Working
Why Employees Want Flexible Working
21% of UK workers between the ages of 25 and 34 are unhappy with their work / life balance, which is more than any other working age group. This may be because 25-34 year olds spend an average of only 4 hours and 46 minutes per day indulging in leisure activities. However, it’s not just leisure that today’s workforce are missing out on.
Many people have commitments in their lives that they are often forced to put aside due to their fixed work schedule. As a solution, many employers are adopting flexible working, allowing employees to decide their working hours.
Employees can organise their work around their schedule, creating a better balance between work and life and turning focus towards achieve targets rather than banking their time spent at work. Individuals in certain occupations may also have the freedom to work from home occasionally and organise their own work day.
What are the Benefits of Flexi-Time?
Flexible working is one of the fastest growing employee benefits trends that doesn’t seem to show any sign of slowing down. More employers are giving their employees the freedom to choose their own working hours and to work from home.
Combining flexible work hours with the ability to work from home gives employees the ultimate opportunity to keep on top of their work and remain productive without needing to make sacrifices in their private life. It can also greatly reduce stress caused by out-of-work commitments and reduce absences.
Employee Benefits Consultant at Drewberry
67% of employees wish they were offered flexible working** and 70% feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive. Meanwhile, 58% of people believe that working away from the office would help them become more motivated.
Flexible working can be invaluable for working parents. Having a flexible schedule means that they can keep up with parental obligations, and allowing parents the choice to work from home puts them closer to their family.
** PowWowNow – Flexible Working in 2017
5. Increased Holiday Allowance
Why Do Employees Need More Holiday?
Presenteeism is becoming a pervasive problem amongst UK workforces. People are continually coming into work unwell, working overtime and putting in work time on their days off. 41% of 25-34-year-olds believe that there is some expectation from their employer to work outside of their normal hours, Meanwhile, 26% report that there is pressure to work during their days off.
With figures like this, it’s no wonder workplace stress is higher than ever. With the risk of employees burning out, changes need to be made to ensure top talent reaches their potential. That’s where holiday allowance can help.
The Benefits of Increased Holiday Allowance
While all employers are obliged to offer employees at least 4 weeks of annual leave per year, others are luring in top talent by increasing employees’ allowance.
Large companies like Netflix and LinkedIn offer an unlimited holiday allowance, going so far as to encourage employees to take regular time off and get away from their desk. While this generous offer might not be suitable for every business owner, there are some excellent benefits to giving employees more time off that go beyond simple stress relief.
One of the downsides of giving employees a limited holiday allowance is that many of them adopt the habit of saving their allowance instead of using it in case they make plans later on in the year. This means that at the end of the year when their holiday allowance is refreshed, many employees with holiday allowance still remaining will try to use it up all at once.
From a business perspective, these extensive absences, usually taken by several employees at once, make for a serious loss in productivity during the period. From the perspective of employees, saving their holiday allowance instead of using it during the year means that they aren’t getting the regular breaks that they need to de-stress.
6. Childcare Resources
Why Do Employees Need Help With Childcare?
For parents, one of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a full-time job is arranging childcare. As well as a lack of available services in certain areas, the cost of childcare can in some instances result in a financial loss if both parents work full-time as opposed to one parent staying at home.
Families working full-time and paying average childcare costs can spend up to 45% of their disposable income on childcare^, which is more than double what they would normally spend on food and drink. On average, 25 hours of childcare for a child under 2 in a UK nursery will cost around £116. Choosing a childminder doesn’t work out much cheaper either, costing around £110 for 25 hours.
Issues with childcare are some of the top reasons why so many parents work part-time or leave their job after having a child. Childcare benefits can provide opportunities to valuable employees that may otherwise be forced to choose between their career and their family.
Giving childcare resources to employees with children can relieve them of some of the stress associated with finding the funds for childcare and give them more options for finding a childcare solution that better suits them. Without severe budget constraints, employees can find better quality nurseries and childminders for their children that provide care closer to home.
What Employee Childcare Options Are Available?
- On-site nursery / childcare facilities
- Childcare vouchers
- Directories and information for local childcare options
- Reserved places at local nurseries for staff to use in emergency circumstances
What Are the Benefits?
From October 2018, the government organised childcare voucher scheme will no longer be available to new applicants. Instead, the only government support available will be tax-free childcare, paying out a maximum of only £500 per 3 months.
The limited support provided by government schemes is a perfect example of why employers need to start thinking about how they can lend a hand to working parents in their business. With vouchers no longer available, many parents may not qualify for tax-free childcare, particularly if they are divorced or if one of the parents is unable to work.
For large companies with the funds to spare, on-site nursery facilities can take a lot of pressure off parents. They allow employees to stay close to their children while they work and remove some of the stress of dropping off their children and picking them up from nurseries elsewhere.
A more affordable option for smaller businesses, on the other hand, would be childcare vouchers, which give parents the freedom to choose childcare facilities close to home. This is one of the most common ways in which employers help their employees with the cost of childcare. Vouchers relieve some of the stress inducing financial strain that comes from childcare
If you are a particularly small business without a lot of funds to spare for this type of employee benefit, there is the option of reserving a space at a local nursery in case of an emergency. Doing so means that if an employee’s usual childcare solution fails, they can use the reserved space as a backup and avoid having to take the day off.
Otherwise, something as simple as providing information with details about local childcare options can reduce some of the stress involved in arranging childcare.
7. Employee Development Opportunities
Why Do Employees Want More Education?
Millennials have admitted that one of the top reasons for quitting a job is a lack of opportunity to advance. The next generation of UK workers are looking for more than a monthly salary – they are looking for a career. In which case, the key to employee retention is internal mobility.
27% of employees say that their job fails to offer opportunities to develop their skills. In addition, an alarming 44% of employees say that their job fails to offer good prospects for career advancement. These numbers may be behind the increase in workers migrating from job to job instead of staying in a job.
Businesses that struggle to retain talent may need to look at the educational opportunities they offer their employees, or lack thereof. Without opportunities to learn on the job, employees may turn to different employers to provide them with the sort of development that will move their career forward.
What Benefits Can Employers Offer?
The education and development opportunities you offer your employees will be dependent on their occupation, your budget, and the industry you work within.
Some of the most common and cost effective development options offered by employers include:
- Training in new tools and methodologies
- Access to learning resources
- An in-house library
- Sending employees to seminars and events
- Cross-departmental training
- One-on-one coaching / mentoring
The Benefits of Educating Employees
Education and training can be transformative for businesses as well as employees. Training can help employees feel like they are part of an organisation and valued rather than an easily disposable asset.
Training employees in new technologies and tools, providing reading materials to spark interest in new skills and career options, and giving the opportunity for employees to learn more about the inner workings of your organisation can open doors for your workers and your business.
These resources that help employees take further steps in their career can also be used to help your business stay up to date with industry trends and give you an advantage.
On the other hand, training employees for management roles and superior positions allows for better mobility within a company. Internal hiring has shown to be capable of boosting morale, increasing engagement, and being more cost-effective compared to hiring externally. An employee that sees that they are capable of moving up and developing within their current organisation won’t feel that they need to leave in order to take the next step in their career.
8. Healthy Living Benefits
Why Do Employees Need Healthy Living Benefits?
Many companies are looking at the mental health of their employees and making it a priority to address the mental wellbeing of their employees. However, some businesses have a tendency to forget the close link between mental health and physical health.
Stress and inactivity are becoming some of the biggest concerns among the UK workforce. Only a small proportion of the UK workforce take the recommended level of aerobic exercise and around 2 million adults in the UK are physically inactive. In addition, excessive stress has caused 46% of employees to adopt unhealthy eating habits and 29% report increasing their alcohol intake as a result of stress.
To ensure these bad habits don’t develop into long-term health problems, employers can step in to help employees take care of their physical as well as their mental health.
Extensive studies have shown that regular exercise and a healthy diet can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. This means that any employer hoping to tackle the issue of mental health in the workplace should be looking at options to improve employees’ physical health as well.
Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry
What Perks Can Employers Offer?
There are many options to match budgets of all kinds for employers that want to encourage their employees to stay active.
- Discounted gym membership
- Health education
- Healthy snacks & lunch
- Showering facilities for employees with an active commute
- Stipends to spend on sports equipment
What are the Benefits?
While some of the top global employers are able to provide an on-site gym and lunchtime yoga classes for their employees, the most popular healthy living benefit offered by small to medium businesses is discounted gym memberships.
Corporate gym memberships appeal to job applicants and are highly beneficial for employees. Employees can decide how they use their membership and benefit from increased activity which has been known to reduce physical health problems and improve mental health.
If your business has an especially small budget, there are alternative benefits that can promote a healthy lifestyle. Providing healthy snacks, arranging exercise-based team building exercises and outings, or simply giving employees regular breaks to get up and walk around can make a difference.
Providing healthy breakfast options and fruit can be a welcome gift for employees. Individuals that might have typically hectic mornings can rely on the food you provide to give them the energy they need for the day ahead.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to simply give employees these perks. In order to reap the benefits of these employee benefits, employers need to promote them and encourage people to use them. Healthy Living benefits are some of the most difficult to promote, but a successful strategy could see a complete turnaround in the physical and mental health of your employees.
Employee Benefits Consultant at Drewberry
9. Increased Pension Contributions
Why Do Employees Want Greater Pension Contributions?
A lot of people in the UK workforce worry that they won’t be able to retire until they are 75 or older, and an alarming 10% of UK workers workers think that they may never be able to afford to retire according to our 2017 Wealth & Protection Survey.
As people get further in their career, the threat of being unable to afford retirement begins to loom and can be the source of a significant amount of stress and worry. When we consider that 72% of workers report that they are saving for a pension through their employer, many workers can feel underwhelmed by the contributions employers can make, which in turn can fuel worries about the affordability of retirement.
The Benefits of Increasing Employer Pension Contributions
Matching your employees’ pension contributions or going a step further than that can be invaluable for employees that are struggling to build their pension in preparation for retirement. When you consider that for some workers a workplace pension is the only source of retirement savings they have, increasing contributions can inspire employees to save more and help them grow their pension pot.
If you are concerned about the cost involved in increasing employer contributions, employers have the option to stagger this benefit and offer greater pension contributions based on employees’ length of service. This can give employees greater incentive to be more engaged with the organisation and second guess switching employers too soon and reduce turnover rate.
Increasing contributions can also lower your company tax bill, with contributions written off as a business expense. Employers may also consider providing employees with some pension education to help workers add to their pension in their own time and generate their own savings.
10. Rewards and Gifts
Why You Should Reward Your Employees
44% of employees believe that they do not receive adequate praise from their manager and 45% of employees claim to have been ignored by their boss^. Statistics like this may be contributing to the issues of productivity and motivation that are plaguing the UK workforce.
When employees don’t feel valued by their employer, they would see no reason to stay if they had the opportunity to chase a higher salary. That might be why 47% of people are looking to move jobs in 2018.
It doesn’t take much to show employees that you care about what they contribute to your business, but giving deserving employees a reward or gift when they have worked particularly hard can make times of stress feel worthwhile.
What Gifts Can You Offer?
Finding the best gifts and rewards to offer give employers the opportunity to get creative. While most of the top benefits are practical, rewards are where employers can think outside the box and find options employees will really enjoy.
- Employee discounts on company products and services
- Event tickets
- High street vouchers
- Social outings
- Charitable donations
- Additional time off
What Are The Benefits of Rewarding Employees?
Praise and rewards are vital components of communication between employers and employees. Recognising the effort has someone has made sends a powerful message to your employees that in turn gives them incentive to be more engaged with the organisation.
Rewards also motivate top employees and help businesses maintain high productivity and employee satisfaction. Happier employees means better employee retention.
Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry
Get Expert Employee Benefit Advice
Improving your benefits offering isn’t always about increasing your budget, sometimes we are able to reduce the cost of other existing benefits to make budget available to introduce new perks.
Choosing the right benefits – ones that are relevant to the needs of your employees – can make all the difference and there is no need to bankrupt the business to afford them. The first step to putting together an improved employee benefits scheme is getting to know your workforce and finding out which benefits are important to them.
For expert advice about the different group insurance offerings and to compare quotes, contact us on 02074425880 and speak to our Employee Benefits Consultants.