9 employee perks to make your workplace a perkplace

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  • Henry Williams

You can’t always compete on salary when it comes to attracting top talent, but you can always offer better employee perks.

They are a way to ensure your staff feel valued and make their working life more comfortable and enjoyable. After all, happier employees are more productive employees.

But it’s not just your staff that benefit from these benefits, an attractive perks package sets you apart from rival employers in a highly competitive recruitment market.

By law, all UK businesses now have to offer staff a pension scheme and pay into this on a monthly basis but not all employee benefits have to be available regularly – they could be daily or weekly perks, or even annual big budget bonanzas…

What office perks should your business offer?

When deciding what employee benefits to give, consider what the staff at your company would find most valuable and what perks fit with your office culture.

Be careful to avoid token efforts that have the appearance of perks but are rarely taken advantage of.

If your employee base is made up of 20-something media types, they’re unlikely to be receptive to the same workplace perks as a workforce of parents in their 30s and 40s.

Tailor your perks. If you have a diverse workforce, then offer a diverse range of benefits.

1. Paid time off for holidays and sick days

This seems obvious but a lot of companies don’t offer paid time off for holidays and sick days. Not offering an allowance for paid leave will force many employees to go without leading to low productivity and burnout.

Even if you’re a small company with limited resources, this is a must if you want to ensure your employees feel valued and can take time out to relax and recharge. It will pay dividends in the long run.

2. Free food and drink

Free food and drink is bound to be of universal appreciation. It’s an easy win and helps your employees save money and stay fuelled. Just make sure you provide options to suit all dietary requirements.

You could offer free, pre-cooked meals or an abundance of basics such as eggs, bread, fruit and cereal, while having coffee and water machines in the office is now a standard expectation.

3. Exercise and activity classes

Keeping your employees active and healthy doesn’t just benefit them. Exercise is good for stress relief and will help increase productivity. Provided they don’t spend too much time doing that instead of working. It’s also a good way for team members to bond with each other in a fun environment.

These can be offered through local gyms or sports centres, who will only be happy to take large, regular group bookings. Alternatively, if you have your own on-site gym, then they can be run by employees at the company or external staff.

4. Health insurance

If you want a healthy, happy business, you need a healthy, happy workforce.

Offering a small business health insurance scheme is very attractive to potential recruits and can help to retain staff.

As well as protecting your team’s health, it can also help to improve productivity and tackle absenteeism.

Providers offer a variety of cover options to suit different types and sizes of businesses.

5. Perks for parents

As well as paid maternity and paternity leave, you should take pains to ensure you’re giving any parents at your company the best chance to successfully juggle work and family life.

This could be subsidised or on-site childcare provided to reduce the stress of finding and paying for someone to look after their children themselves.

Childcare vouchers are a government-approved method of paying for childcare, enabling parents to exchange up to £243 of their gross salary a month for vouchers that can pay for anything from nurseries to nannies and after school clubs. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up and is tax free.

6. Flexible working

Offering flexible working hours and the option to work from home are amongst the most desirable perks for many modern workers.

It recognises that your employees may have different schedules or optimum working hours. After all, technological developments have made it possible for workers to do almost everything they could do in an office from a remote location.

This will also help parents get in that all important family time, and make sure they don't miss out on significant events in their children's lives.

7. Duvet days

We all need to have a time out now and again, when the idea of abandoning the safe shroud of our duvet to face the world seems tantamount to torture.

Until recently, this could mean either you came into the office and underperformed or were forced to phone in and feign illness – nether of which are an optimum outcome.

A duvet day is essentially a legitimate ‘sickie’, allowing your staff to take a day off at extremely short notice with no questions asked. With increasing awareness around mental health, the duvet day acknowledges that not all illnesses have physical symptoms – sometimes we just need time to recharge our minds.

8. Paid-for holiday/Company away-days

A paid-for holiday or company away days are a sure-fire winner and another good opportunity for some relaxed team bonding.

This could be dependent on certain targets being met, which will encourage productivity and ensure all your employees are working towards the same goal.

9. Employee share scheme

Giving your employees the chance to acquire shares in your company is a great way to incentivise them and remunerate them in a tax-efficient way.

As your staff literally have a stake in the company, their interests are aligned with your goals and objectives.

Be aware though that there are risks to an employee share scheme. A fall in the share price could impact morale and you will gradually dilute share ownership the more people buy into the scheme.

While many of the employee benefits listed above will come with costs to your business, there are a number of free employee perks you can look to offer too.

These include:

  • Transparency – Being upfront with new, and existing staff, will help create a culture of honesty and ensure everyone understands the role they have to play in your business.
  • Praise – A little recognition goes a long way.
  • Business performance – The better your company performs, the more likely you are to attract talent and retain existing staff.
Henry Williams
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