Are you offering a benefits package that is going to attract and retain top talent?

The job market is in a season of change and with this comes the necessity for review and adaptation. How can your business ensure that it is in the best position to attract the most skilled professionals available?

In our previous article we looked at why offering a competitive benefits package is key to attracting and retaining top talent. We are now reviewing what elements make an attractive benefits package and how SMEs can compete against larger corporates.

The balance of personal and work life is a huge topic in today’s world and all businesses from start-ups to scale ups have to contemplate this when evaluating their benefit offerings.

In our recent survey we carried out on employee benefits we found some of the perks highest up the list for many professionals may not necessarily take you by surprise. Some you may already have in place, but as the job market continues to provide employees with an open playground, it is vital that you review what employees are looking for and renew your existing benefits package with an innovative and thoughtful approach.

1.Remote working – We found the majority of candidates are looking for hybrid working, giving employees the flexibility to choose when they work – whether they are more productive first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon or evening, whether they want to be located in the office with colleagues or working from home in a quiet space, or a mixture of the two. It provides staff with improved well-being giving them more autonomy over where and how they carry out their role, plus an increase in income in some cases due to commute times being cut.

2. Culture – We touched on culture in our previous article and it features highly on candidate’s priority lists. Adopting a forward thinking and nurturing culture can give huge pay backs. By creating a positive workplace you can establish trust with your team, encourage collaboration and communication, foster an environment where people express their gratitude, help your employees work towards personal and professional goals, promote health and wellness and invest in your employees. This can result in increased employee productivity, loyalty, overall health and happiness and your team becoming your brand ambassadors.

3. Pensions – Whilst pensions are a legal requirement, many professionals want to see an enhanced package. By law employers have to contribute 3% of an employee’s annual salary, with the individual contributing 5%. If you want to have a competitive edge though it’s worth reviewing your pension scheme. Exceptional packages can see employers contributing as much as 20% of their employees annual salaries, although this isn’t necessarily achievable for smaller SMEs, it is still worth considering bumping up contributions above the standard requirement to give you an advantage.

4. Mental health and wellbeing – Although mental health and well-being aren’t necessarily new benefits for employers to consider, they have moved higher up the wish list. Companies need to delve deeper into the advantages of employee assistance programmes and actively promote the advantages to staff of counselling sessions and options for maintaining mental health and welfare. Combining this with in-house or online exercise classes or mindfulness or mediation classes each week for staff to attend can improve overall health and engagement.

5. Private health insurance – NHS data revealed at the end of March 2020 that there were 4.24 million people on the NHS waiting lists in England waiting for treatment. The knock on effect waiting times can have on people’s mental health can be detrimental, so by providing employees with private medical insurance it can give them access to the best healthcare in private hospitals, allowing them to skip NHS waiting times and get treated faster and potentially back to work quicker if they have been absent from work.

6. Holiday entitlement – Providing additional holiday entitlement can differentiate your business from your competitors. Whilst unlimited paid time off is being considered by some companies, that can require a larger budget, so it may be worth looking at giving your staff a day off for their birthday, or allowing a duvet day, on top of their standard holiday allowance. This doesn’t have to break the bank but can provide a boost to staff’s morale. Plus buy them a birthday coffee and cake for the extra personal touch and it could be a small but impactful gesture that keeps staff smiling.

7. Pet insurance – After a surge of pet ownership and adoption during and after the pandemic, some companies have invested in pet insurance as a perk for employees. Many of us know all too well the mental health benefits that pets can bring and again this has increased over the pandemic with many more individuals working from home and appreciating having that time with their furry friends.

8. Work space – What does your work space look like? Does it offer free parking, a gym, good coffee and a kitchen facility with communal space? What about plants and open spaces? Where can staff enjoy fresh air during a break? A good workspace can drive engagement, interaction, productivity and inspiration. Take a walk around your space and try to view it with fresh eyes, what do your employees see each day? Is it an area that is conducive for creativity and innovation?

9. Cost effective benefits – It is difficult to say precisely which benefits prove to be the most effective as every company and individual is different. As some benefits can be expensive, especially for SMEs, cost effective benefits which can still pack a punch but make less of a dent in the budget, are worth bearing in mind when reviewing your benefits package. Some might include offering free breakfasts or a fruit bar, flexible holidays, end of quarter social gatherings, flexible working hours, flexible parental leave, paid anniversary break, casual dress code, bring-your-dog-to-work day, financial advice and high-street discounts.

Falling short on having the right benefits package can result in a reduction in employee productivity, but also potentially cost you losing your best talent altogether. To avoid this, get creative. Survey your staff; find out which benefits are working and which aren’t. Do some benefits work well for some age groups but not for others? Look at market trends and review the directions in which benefits are heading. Develop a long term plan that helps you align new benefits with your employees needs and implement them into your business culture and ethos.

King Recruit joined forces with James Caan CBE and award-winning investment firm Recruitment Entrepreneur in July 2021. Recruitment Entrepreneur is one of the most successful private equity investors in start-up to scale up recruitment businesses.

King Recruit helps businesses to expand by finding game-changing talent. With our partner-led approach and expertise in all aspects of talent strategy and hiring.

For help on how to develop an enticing employee benefits package, give us a call on 01392 790725 or email