Your staff want more from work than just a salary

29 Aug 2019 By Debra Gers

Debra Gers explores how employers can attract and retain the best staff members

With record numbers of unfilled vacancies, individuals can now be more selective when looking for employment. A competitive salary is a good starting point, but offering a wide range of benefits could make all the difference in attracting – and retaining – the best candidates.

The ability to work flexibly, good holiday allowances, pensions, private medical insurance and enhanced family leave policies are now standard for many organisations. But what else can be provided?

The list is endless and increasingly innovative. Days off for birthdays, unlimited holidays, duvet days, concierge services, volunteering days, cycle to work schemes, paid sabbaticals, referral bonuses, health screening and even egg-freezing services for women. Molson Coors Brewing Company has just introduced ‘life leave’, which provides for an additional two weeks of paid leave for significant life events such as moving house or getting married. 

Many organisations offer a flexible benefits platform recognising that the needs of millennials, baby boomers and generation Z are different. Take, for example, enhanced payments for family leave. This may not be of immediate interest to younger workers who are just starting their career or to older workers who have no need for family leave, yet for others it can be a crucial factor in choosing an employer. 

Training and career progression may, on the face of it, be of more interest to younger workers but it is important not to make assumptions that older workers are not interested. Government research of older people carried out in 2018 revealed that 63 per cent thought that training to help with new technology and skills would be helpful for people aged over 50.

One increasingly important benefit for older workers is ‘flexible retirement’. With one in five people in the 50-64 age bracket having caring responsibilities, the opportunity to retire flexibly might make or break their decision to move or stay with their current employer. Others may simply be keen to facilitate a smooth route into retirement and to improve their work-life balance. 

Certain benefits, however, appeal across the board to all generations. Offering the ability to work flexibly to improve work-life balance consistently appears at the top of everyone's wish list. Consequently, many organisations have extended flexible working options to all staff regardless of their length of service.

Another important issue of interest to all ages is employee health and wellbeing, and many employers now provide free or subsidised gym membership or yoga sessions at work. 

With strong employment levels and a recognised skills shortage, employers should:  

  • offer a flexible benefits platform to meet the needs of an age diverse workforce to help attract and retain staff;
  • provide flexible working opportunities and meaningful work in a supportive environment as these are appreciated by all members of staff regardless of age;
  • ensure that the range of benefits is well publicised to staff; and
  • carry out employee surveys to find out what additional benefits are of interest to staff.

Debra Gers is the senior practice support lawyer for the employment, pensions, benefits and immigration group at Blake Morgan

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