How to choose the right employees perks and benefits

Some employee perks cost money, but others don't, and a good employee benefits package should include both. It's a good idea to start by considering your employees' needs. Benefits that help employees look after their health and well-being can benefit everyone. However, the needs of employees with young families and other caring commitments differ from those nearing retirement. Inviting feedback from staff about their lives, goals, and aspirations gives you a rounded view. Equally, asking your team for suggestions about improving their work environment can help you choose employee perks that support change.

Research suggests that the main reason employees leave their jobs is to seek a higher salary and better benefits in a new job, making a market-rate salary a good starting point. While talking to your team is likely the most effective way to gather information about suitable employee perks, there's also research to help you consider your options. HR and payroll software firm Ciphr's survey results detail the top 15 most valued employment benefits, which could help you start the conversation and ask your people the right questions.

Prioritise health and well-being

Promoting good health and well-being benefits your team and business. Your employees can receive support with their physical and mental health, and your business benefits from reduced absenteeism and staff turnover and happier and more productive employees. Here are a few ways to support employee well-being.

Mental health support

An employee assistance program (EAP) provides telephone counselling and support with other issues, such as legal or financial worries. Confidential third-party support can give your staff confidence to seek advice without worrying about how it will impact their career. If you invest in health insurance, you can often add an EAP to your policy. Most policies also include some mental health support, which you can opt to enhance if necessary.

A workplace well-being strategy

Workplace well-being strategies take many forms and can be a low-cost option to improve your employee's health. Well-being initiatives target particular health issues. For example, if your team does mainly sedentary work, you can introduce lunchtime activity sessions such as group walks. These also allow employees to form stronger workplace relationships.

You could also choose to provide free fruit and healthy snacks or run health and wellness training sessions or cooking demonstrations, which can also provide a free lunch. The cycle-to-work scheme lets employees buy bicycles via a salary sacrifice scheme, giving them a more active commute.

Health insurance

Employee health insurance provides your employees with quick access to high-quality private healthcare and support services, including virtual GP appointments and well-being information. It can also provide resources to support you in developing workplace wellness initiatives.

What does health insurance cover?

Private health insurance covers treatment for acute conditions, meaning your employees will still need NHS care if they have a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes. Each policy includes core coverage, typically inpatient treatment, cancer care and some mental health support. You can add optional extras to enhance your coverage. We always recommend including some outpatient coverage as this covers private diagnostic tests and consultant appointments, which core coverage often doesn't.

Business health insurance uses a group policy, where the premium covers all your employees.

Tax implications

Private medical insurance premiums are an allowable business expense for corporation tax purposes, meaning you can reduce your corporation tax bill. HMRC defines medical insurance as a benefit in kind, meaning you must pay employers National Insurance, and your employees will pay income tax on the premium value.

A better work-life balance

A good work-life balance is increasingly important to all employees, and you can offer employee perks that help your team create a better balance at no cost to your business.

Flexible working

Flexible working arrangements help your team balance work with family life and other commitments. It can include flexible hours, working from home or a combination.

You can implement a combination of approaches, allowing staff to work from home on specified days or shift their hours to allow them to come to work later. A four-day working week can help parents reduce their childcare costs.

Lady working from home with her child

More annual leave

Businesses in the UK must give their staff 28 days of annual leave, but it can be a good idea to encourage employees to use their allowance. Taking a break is good for morale and allows employees to spend time with their families before returning refreshed. Offering additional leave as one of your employee perks shows your people that you care about their well-being. You could provide an increased annual leave allowance across the board or offer it as a reward for long service.

Some businesses now offer unlimited leave. This approach can enable employees to take a break when needed and demonstrates your trust in their commitment. You might assume an unlimited leave policy will leave your business understaffed and unproductive. However, the reverse may be true. Kickstarter found that unlimited leave created uncertainty because there were no clear guidelines on how much leave employees could take. Their staff took less time off and ended up stressed and exhausted.

You could also consider employee perks such as a day off on your birthday or an office shutdown between Christmas and New Year to help leave allowances go further.

Excellent pension benefits

Good pension benefits will likely be of primary concern to older employees closer to retirement age. However, since your business is legally required to provide a workplace pension to every employee, it makes sense to use it to help your business attract and retain top talent. Paying generous contributions and offering contribution matching helps your staff save for their retirement and shows that you care about their long-term financial health.

Sickness benefits

As the cost of living rises, your employees may need help to make ends meet. A serious illness could leave an employee feeling anxious about paying the bills when they should be concentrating on recovering. A healthy work-life balance can help to prevent stress-related illness, and health insurance provides treatment to speed their recovery.

However, a generous sick pay entitlement can allow them to rest and recuperate without worrying about the household bills. If paying for sickness absence from company funds isn't a practical option, consider investing in income protection or critical illness insurance.

Group income protection

Group income protection pays a regular income to an employee during a long-term sickness absence. It typically pays up to 80% of an employee's salary and can continue for up to two years. It allows your business to extend an employee's sick pay entitlement without paying the total cost.

Critical illness insurance

Critical illness cover can be an alternative to income protection, or you can offer both together. Critical illness insurance pays a lump sum when an employee is diagnosed with a serious illness. Your employees can use the money however they choose. For example, if their condition results in disability, they can fund home alterations.

Help to reduce living costs

Good employee perks can help your team save money and even provide a few treats. Employee discounts can include cheaper holidays, a discounted or free gym membership and cinema tickets. You can invest in an employee discount scheme. However, most health insurance providers now provide their members with employee perks and reward schemes.

Support for employees with families

Your employee perks can help employees with young families balance work with their caring commitments. Some of your employees may be part of the sandwich generation and find themselves caring for both elderly relatives and children.

Flexible working hours can help with time management. Critical illness insurance can also cover children, allowing a parent to take time off to care for a seriously ill child. However, other employee perks can support working parents day to day.

Help with childcare costs

Working parents can spend around 30% of their wages on childcare, leading to 27.6% of women leaving the workforce to focus on family commitments. Offering help with childcare costs could help your company attract skilled workers to your team. The childcare voucher scheme is now closed to new members. Still, the Workplace Nursery Benefit allows you to partner with a childcare setting so employees can pay fees via a salary sacrifice scheme, thereby reducing their tax bill. Your business pays a fee to join, but you'll typically recoup this by lowering your employers' National Insurance contributions.

Carers' leave

Flexible hours and financial support can both benefit staff with caring commitments. The option to work from home allows employees to combine work with caring for a sick child or to take an elderly parent to medical appointments. However, consider going further by offering additional paid leave in the form of extended maternity or paternity leave following the birth of a child or an adoption. That could help you stand out as a family-friendly employer. You could also consider offering additional days off that employees can use as needed. This approach benefits staff with regular caring commitments but can also be used by other employees in an emergency.

Death in service benefits

Employee perks can help your staff look after their family when they're no longer around. Providing death-in-service benefits gives your team peace of mind, knowing that their family will have financial security when they're gone. Group life insurance and relevant life insurance pay a lump sum to an employee's nominated beneficiary if they die during their employment with you. The cover continues as long as the individual is still an employee, so the death doesn't have to happen at work.

Life cover pays a lump sum based on a multiple of an employee's salary. It's a fixed-term policy that ends on an employee's anticipated retirement date.

Improve your company culture

A positive company culture helps to reduce workplace stress, increase employee engagement and attract and retain skilled staff. Improving the work environment can be as simple as making your office space more attractive and introducing company perks such as a casual dress code where appropriate. A company culture that promotes open dialogue between employees and managers helps to build team spirit, implement improvements and head off potential problems before they escalate.

Career growth

You're more likely to retain existing staff if they can see a clear path for career growth within your organisation. Workplace training and mentoring sessions encourage staff to develop new skills. Providing information about business structure and the opportunities available in other departments allows employees to move to a new team without leaving your business altogether.

You may also consider offering tuition reimbursement or allowing staff to book training with an approved provider.

Get in touch

We hope this guide has given you some new ideas to help you improve your employee benefits package.

Getting professional advice enables you to consider the impact of your choices on your financial, legal and tax affairs, so we always recommend speaking to your accountant and professional advisers.

At Globacare, we offer bespoke advice on a range of insurance products. If you'd like to add health insurance, income protection, or life coverage to your employee benefits, please contact us for a comparison quote.

We can also support you by reviewing your current provision to see if you can reduce your premiums, improve your coverage, or both.

Matt Fletcher
Senior Broker

Matt Fletcher

Matt, one of our senior brokers, joined us from Axa several years ago. His knowledge and expertise span health, life and income protection insurance alongside critical illness cover.

Frequently asked questions

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