Increasingly, the lines between time spent at work and time spent outside of work are becoming blurred. It used to be the case that we went to work for a fixed number of hours every week, and then used our free time for things such as exercise, self-improvement, evening classes and domestic tasks, as well as leisure activities and just plain relaxing.
Now, we are all working longer hours and taking our work home with us, but the trade-off is that we expect greater flexibility and in-work benefits that help us to manage our out-of-work needs. These changes are enabled by the way that the private sector is taking on more areas that were once the responsibility of the state, such as healthcare and education. This situation can ultimately be made to work for both employers and employees if businesses put careful thought into the best resources that they offer their staff.
These resources fall under the general heading of in-work benefits. Financial incentives such as higher wages, bonuses and overtime are always welcome, of course, but many SMEs simply don’t have the budget to effectively offer their employees more money. Thankfully, there are other ways to make your team feel valued and rewarded. Non-financial incentives can sometimes even work better as they are less divisive, more personal and longer-lasting. A surprise bonus in one month’s pay packet is all very well, but the opportunity to learn a new skill can be of benefit for a lifetime, and can help the recipient advance their career so that they are regularly earning more money each month – and, of course, a more capable and skilled employee is of greater benefit to the company.
Offering learning schemes and programs can also give employees greater self-confidence and can empower them to achieve more, to everyone’s benefit. Think about what skills it would benefit your employees to learn, and look around for a provider that your company can partner with. The Knowledge Academy, for example, offer courses in IT, business management and project management training both for individuals and company workforces as whole. Obviously, the courses offered should relate to the sector that your company works in in order to give the best advantage for the company and for the kind of person who wants to work for you.
Healthy and happy
Free or reduced gym membership is another common benefit that companies offer their employees, and giving your staff the opportunity to look after their physical health benefits both parties. Longer working hours in office situations often mean less opportunities to exercise while stress mounts up, resulting in more cases of obesity and high blood pressure, as well as absenteeism and general poor health.
Health-based resources are a good thing, but why stop at the gym? Yoga, running classes and even weekend five-a-side football matches are all worthy alternatives. Looking after your employees’ mental health is just as important as encouraging them to take care of their bodies, so why not think about offering meditation or mindfulness sessions? At the end of the day (or even in the lunch break!), everyone should be able to choose the method of staying healthy that works best for them. To this end, you could consider offering wellness vouchers that can be used in a variety of ways. This approach is also fairer as it doesn’t discriminate against employees with disabilities or other special needs.
Workplace health insurance plans are another great incentive to keep staff loyal and attract the skilled, self-motivated workers that you need. Again, there’s no reason to stop at health insurance, as other forms of insurance could be just as valid. One could look at workplace pension plans. It’s now compulsory to offer some kind of workplace pension, but obviously some are better than others. An exceptional pension scheme can be a great way to attract and retain employees, but be sure to let them know about the extra benefits that you are offering.
Offering employee benefits is a great way to improve morale and so increase productivity. It also tends to reduce staff turnover as employees are more loyal, not only because the company offers them resources that are useful to them but also because they feel valued and part of the team. Being able to learn new skills and improve one’s health through work is empowering and motivating. As a result, everyone benefits, not just today but also tomorrow and further into the future.