When it comes to landing the best talent, there's a lot of competition. Savvy candidates who know their value will carefully consider the whole package of job offers before signing on the dotted line. They take into account the employee value proposition, levels of job satisfaction, the commute that would be involved and, of course, the rewards on offer. One way to ensure you bag the top talent is to have an attractive rewards package available, but are you offering your existing and prospective talent what they really want?
With 70% of employees stating that rewards make a difference to their motivation at work, as well as job retention, and 25% admitting they would choose one job over another based on which had better offers and incentives, getting your bonus packages right is essential. The development of strong reward programmes takes up a sizable chunk of a company's time and resources. The question, however, is whether or not these costly programmes are genuinely delivering value on investment (VOI), both to the company and its employees.
Value is utterly critical. A truly rewarding rewards programme must offer employees something of real worth, something that is both important and useful to them, which will ensure they engage well with your business. If the rewards you're offering are not valued by your employees, and you're struggling with both VOI and employee engagement, you need to reassess what you have on offer. Look at each reward individually and ask, "should this really be part of our rewards package?"
The next question on your lips is even more critical: "what rewards do our employees truly value?" This question is far from easy, yet it's one that most professionals in HR find themselves asking frequently, both of themselves and of their workers. The majority of employees value four things more than anything else: time, career trajectory, free will, and money. Exactly which of these four things takes the top spot varies depending on the individual, but a benefits package that offers something juicy from each of these categories will ensure that there's something (and often several things) to keep everyone happy.
Unless your employees are consummate workaholics they will place a high premium on the amount of time they get to spend away from work, and how their time while working is structured. Here are a few examples of popular time-related benefits...
The be all and end all of working benefits for the majority of people is flexibility where their working hours are concerned. Giving your employees the chance to be flexible in their hours, and choose how they spend their working time, is essential. Almost 20% of workers favour flexibility in their working hours above anything else, including cash bonuses. This shouldn't come as a surprise, given the dual nature of the positive message flexible working hours sends to employees: you trust them, and you're happy to treat them like professional adults. They know what they need to do, and how best to get it done; you know letting them do it their way is best for productivity, performance, and your bottom line.
Whether they're working around families, health issues, hobbies, or long-distance love affairs, the ability to leave a little early, come in a little late, take an extended lunch break, or even work from home when they need to, will go a long way towards convincing prospective employees you're the right home for their talent.
Allowing your employees to trade holidays by buying and selling their holiday time is another way to provide flexibility in working hours. It's also a great way to allow your workers to choose exactly how their time away from work is spent. Holiday trading enables employees to get their work/life balance as close to perfect as possible, a definite win for them. It's also a win for your company, as you can save money by having employees buy their holiday time. 2016 saw a huge rise in the use of holiday trading as an employee benefit and the trend is set to continue. If you're not making the most of a holiday trading system, you're missing a trick.
Free will is huge. It's a large part of the reason flexible working hours is such a hugely valued benefit, but there are a lot of other ways you can offer your employees choices and the ability to exercise their free will in determining exactly how they will work, and what benefits they will get. Here are a few good examples of free will-related benefits...
Voluntary benefits are another option that's highly prized among employees. Giving your workers the chance to choose what is most important to them, personally, helps them feel they are respected as individuals, and valued for their unique gifts, talents and quirks. That's often difficult to achieve, especially for large companies with a lot of workers. Voluntary benefits are essentially services and products that are available for purchase by employees.
Purchases of these benefits are usually available through the sacrifice of a portion of their salary, as a part of their taxable income, and simply as straight purchases they can make at a staff discount. This might include things like cycle-to-work schemes, childcare vouchers, and company car schemes. The market for voluntary benefits has been steadily expanding for a decade or more, due in large part to the extremely high demand from both companies and employees alike.
Health-related benefits are another great voluntary benefit that gives your employees a chance to not only exercise their free will, but gain tangible non-work-related benefits from their job. Almost 70% of employees agree that the ability to participate in wellness programmes will increase their engagement in their business' goals and mission. Wellness programmes can vary from on-site gyms or gym memberships, to nutrition advice and training, exercise classes, mental health support, and smoking cessation classes. Wellness programmes are increasingly in demand, and are so highly prized because they make employees feel their company cares about their overall wellbeing and health - they're invested in them as people, rather than simply worker bees.
Another big tick in the bonus programme box for a lot of employees is the ability to advance in their career trajectory. Here are a few career-related bonuses you would do well to include in your packages...
Having a clear line of progression to follow is a huge benefit for a lot of workers. No-one likes to think they're stuck in a dead-end job. Whether they advance to the next stage in their career isn't always as important as the ability to advance, should they choose to do so. Ensure your employees know there's always room for advancement, and give them tangible steps to take in order to reach the next level on the corporate ladder.
Similarly, employees like to feel as though their hard work is valued. They like to know that someone is paying attention and that people notice the difference when they turn in a day of seriously hard graft, as opposed to just phoning it in.
If no-one cares how well you are performing, where is the incentive to go the extra mile, give it your best, and really invest in your work and company?
Ensuring a good system of performance-related benefits is a great way to not only increase employee engagement and the quality of work your employees are completing, but also give them that warm, fuzzy, comforting feeling of being praised and appreciated.
Going hand-in-hand with advancement, training is very important to a great many employees. The modern world and the constant evolution of technology and marketing has created a culture of learning like never before. Employees are often eager to get as much training as possible, to ensure their continued advancement, job security, and enable them to progress to bigger and better things.
If they can do this on the company's dime, so much the better!
Training bonus programmes also have serious benefits for your company, as it enables you to keep your staff at the cutting edge of knowledge and techniques, expand into new areas, and take full advantage of all their newly-learned skills.
And finally, the one that most people assume is the 'big one', money. While it's true that employees value their money, it's not always the case that money-related benefits are the most important element of a job they consider. That being said, people like money, and the more the better, so here are a few essential money-related rewards to include in your package...
While it might not the hottest topic or the most talked about element of work, pension contributions should still play a major part in your bonus package. Financial security is extremely important to most people, and they like to know that the efforts of today are going to pay off a lot further down the line than the pay-check they will receive at the end of the month. While they can certainly pay into pension schemes themselves, offering to make contributions on top of this is a great way to ensure they feel safe, secure, and happy that you care about their long-term needs.
We all like a bargain. No matter what level our salary is at, we're always looking for ways to stretch it out a little further. Having a discount platform as part of your benefits package is a great way to provide this. Ensuring a range of products and services fall under the discounts will help also - don't just think about your employees, think about their families, hobbies, hopes and dreams. What are they desperately in need of but can't quite afford? What will make them feel like they've finally 'made it' and are living the life they always dreamed of? What will help them care for their children, partners, pets and elderly relatives? What will make them happy, cheerful, and relaxed?
There's no ultimate answer to the question of which reward is best for your employees. At the end of the day, they are all individuals, with different preferences, wants and needs. But ensuring you hit these four major areas will all but guarantee happy employees, and a little variety will always make them feel they are valued and respected for their individual talents and abilities.
If you've got a lot to offer as an employer, and are looking to hire great candidates, get in touch with Endorsed. Endorsed is the direct hiring platform that gives you access to the most in demand candidates with the exact skills and experience you're looking for. Endorsed only connects you with the best active candidates that you can chat direct with. Find out more today
Georgina has in-depth expertise within tech and innovation. You can find Georgina using her skills to help fellow creative industry leaders through inspiring research pieces or lecturing at Oxford College of Marketing.