The workforce in the UK has been reduced by circa 500,000 people as a result of post-Brexit worker rules, older workers retiring during the pandemic and a rise in long term sickness. Couple this with spiralling inflation and a cost of living crisis and we see employees demanding more, while many employers are unable to match wage demands.
Jane Bowen, above, an employment solicitor at Devonshires, says employers need to get creative and make their employees and new recruits feel like they are being looked after.
She says: “It’s an employees’ market at the moment with employers experiencing difficulties finding and keeping employees, especially when they can’t afford inflation-matching pay rises or salaries. This means they need to get creative and provide employees with perks that will make them feel valued. While money is important, many employees put similar emphasis on feeling like they are appreciated.”
Jane says there are five easy ways to offer employees perks that won’t break the bank.
“Firstly, health and well-being are high priorities for many people at the moment,” Jane says. “With the NHS in crisis meaning long delays for diagnoses and treatment, employees really value private healthcare cover and whilst providing this does come at a cost for employers, it could still cost less than providing employees with an inflation linked pay rise. Taking mental health seriously is also important for many, so allowing time off for mental health reasons and offering access to counselling shows that mental health awareness and wellbeing is high on an employer’s agenda. Access to professional financial advice, for those struggling with rising household costs or looking to save for their future, is another perk that can be offered without breaking the bank.”
Jane says that post lockdowns most workers are looking for employers who are flexible.
She explains: “Letting people work from home when possible or working more flexible hours is hugely attractive for many employees as they can save money on commuting and gain back time they would otherwise spend travelling. Provided there is no impact on business outputs/service delivery, flexible working doesn’t cost anything to an employer financially, but is a big benefit for many employees.
“Leave is also very important to employees, to ensure they have time away from work to rest but also to deal with personal matters. A third thing employers can do is show a commitment to work life balance by offering extra leave in certain circumstances such as for employees’ birthdays or a day to move house.
“Another fairly inexpensive thing employers can offer is salary sacrifice – where the employee takes less salary in exchange for a non-cash benefit. This can be for all manner of items including electric cars, iPads and bikes. During times when household expenses are rising, employees may not have the money to purchase these types of product outright and offering salary sacrifice to employees means they are able to spread the costs with the added benefit of national insurance savings.
“Finally, negotiating discounts for employees with local businesses such as food outlets and dry cleaners can of real benefit to staff. While offering big cash incentives may not be possible for many businesses, offering cheaper perks may well make the difference in ensuring employees choose you over a competitor business.”