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How to choose workplace perks to attract top talent - without breaking the bank

Perks should reflect your corporate culture says Rob Gorle, finance director at employee engagement specialists Perkbox.

 From private healthcare to free gym memberships and pool tables – providing perks for your employees can be a costly affair.  What’s more, they sometimes don’t give a real return on investment or help attract talent and retain employees in your organisation.

At Perkbox, we did some research into this topic recently surveying 2,315 British employees and 8,716 job descriptions – it turns out there is hope – you can find perks that work for your employees, without breaking the bank.

The starting point: what perks do employees actually want?

When it comes to certain perks, employers and employees are on the same wavelength to a great extent.

Social events are a big hit with employees taking up the top four places in our research –  extracurricular clubs such as book clubs ranked in first place,  followed by pool table, ping pong table and office sports teams.  For employers, on the other hand, social events were the fourth most listed perk in the job descriptions studied.

Similarly, flexible working also ranked in a comparable position in both employer job specs (8th place) and employee preferences (11th place).

It’s worth noting that perks such as the above can be simple and totally free to provide for employees. Flexible working ultimately requires forward-thinking management, whilst extracurricular clubs don’t require a lot of resources but resonate well with employees. John Lewis has the right idea with over 25 clubs and societies for its employees to enjoy – including a music club, wine club and even a sailing club with six yachts.

Great perks don’t equate to large financial investment

Although, admittedly, providing sailing clubs and yachts to employees is not the cheapest option. It’s crucial to remember that providing benefits that are valued by your staff doesn’t have to mean a large amount of financial investment.

In fact, from our research, we found that whilst private healthcare – a more expensive perk – was highly promoted by employers whose jobs specs were analysed, coming in third place, it only ranked 15th in the list of top employee preferences.

On the other hand, unlimited holidays has become a truly valued perk by employees in this day and age and isn’t expensive to offer if managed and promoted appropriately.  At Perkbox, we’re huge fans, unlimited holidays not only provides employees with more flexibility but also serve as a way to demonstrate a culture of trust in our organisation, empowering employees to take time off when they feel they need it.

We also have a dog-friendly office at Perkbox, which from a financial perspective, costs nothing to provide as an employer, but saves your employees money in looking after their pets whilst at work – a double win! Paying for a dog walking service or doggy daycare can be a large expense for many pet-owning employees, especially if they work long hours or have a lengthy commute.

The perks that aren’t delivering a return on investment

On the opposite side of the spectrum, our research also uncovered some perks which aren’t resonating as well with employees, yet are still being promoted heavily by employers on job specs.

Friday drinks, for example, only came in 38th place for employees but were advertised in 958 (41%) of the job descriptions studied. There was a similar disconnect with medical health insurance, as mentioned above.

Here’s the point – make the most of your budget and communicate with your employees to find the best perks that work for both parties and complement your company culture.

Otherwise, it’s a waste of both time and money.

In conclusion, it’s important to bear in mind that the ‘one size fits all’ approach simply won’t work when it comes to perks at work – and neither will the ‘more expensive, the better’ approach. The trick is both communication and creativity.

Listen to what your employees want, choose perks that reflect your culture and be creative to show how great your business is!

If you do this and do it well, you will no doubt be getting a step closer to both attracting and retaining the best talent.

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