Firms urged to ‘break from tradition’ on staff benefits

  • Preston expert says mindset need to shift from reward to engagement
  • Low staff engagement presents a major risk for employers
  • Ageing workforce will be a major challenge over next two decades

Businesses are risking serious staffing issues by not moving with the times when it comes to rewarding and motivating their people, according to a Preston-based adviser.

An employee rewards specialist at Moore and Smalley, says businesses need to view employee benefits as a way to engage with staff, rather than thinking of them solely as a financial reward.

And he believes firms should also be tailoring employee benefits packages to reflect their organisation and workforce, rather than making do with what they’ve done before or what competitors do.

A financial planning consultant who advises businesses across the UK on staff benefits, said: “The conventional approach is to pay people a salary and offer a pension. But many staff these days want flexibility in their working hours and benefits that reflect their lifestyle. Much of this depends on age and what stage of life they are at.

“Staff benefits need to be seen not necessarily as a financial reward, but a way of standing out from the crowd and a way to genuinely engage with employees. It’s about finding out what they want, not telling them what they should have.”

The issue of employee benefits is all the more important due to the increase in numbers of employees from the ‘baby boomer’ generation, which could mean greater pressure on employers as the demands of an ageing population unfold.

Around a third of children born in the UK in 2012 are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday, compared to just 1% of those born in 1908.

A 2016 report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)*, showed the number of people in the UK aged 65 is expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2030, and the number of people over the age of 85 will have doubled.

“Retaining older workers with their lifetime of training and on-the-job experience is going to become increasingly more important to employers, older workers might want more flexibility, maybe its ill-health plans and insurance, or perhaps they are simply more inclined towards enhanced retirement and investment options.

“Equally though employers need to be able to attract and motivate “millennials” as they represent the future of companies. These two groups of society have very different expectations and can place emphasis and importance on very different benefits. Softer benefits such as gym memberships, technology schemes and flexible working may appeal more to this group.

“Whatever it is, benefits packages are one of the most tangible ways for employers to show they value their employees regardless of age. Business should speak to staff to understand just what it is they want before launching new benefits packages.”

*Source: Creating More Fulfilling Lives for Older Workers