Despite the improving economy, businesses are still watching their budgets, and in particular, their remuneration payments. This has led HR departments to renew their focus on employee incentives and benefits, in particular rewards and benefits that are no-cost or low-cost to the business.

This renewed focus to find innovative and competitive incentives and benefits is particularly critical as the economy continues to improve, and the jobs market becomes more competitive. If businesses want to retain their best talent then they need to keep their employees happy. That means offering incentives and benefits that their employees really want.

This is borne out by research from consultancy organisation Mercer. They’ve found thattraditional benefits and rewards are no longer enough to keep the best talent, and that employees are happier with more benefits, rather than increased pay.

Unfortunately, salary boosting benefits that used to be unique have now become seen as standard. Work at home days, flexible hours, and the like, no longer cut the mustard, thanks to organisations such as Google and Virgin who offer a range of innovative benefits to their employees. This means that HR departments have to get more creative.

Creative benefit, reward and incentive ideas:

  1. An extra £1 on an employee’s monthly salary for every time they walk or cycle to work during the month, tying into businesses’ goals regarding healthy outcomes for staff, and environmental sustainability.
  2. Early Friday finishing during the summer months or ‘duvet days’, to allow employees to reduce stress, and tied into improving employee health and mental well-being.
  3. Extra day annual leave if employees take all their annual leave during the year, to enable businesses to reduce the liability left on the balance sheet.

Of course, it’s no good offering creative and innovative benefits without considering the scheme as a whole. This applies equally whether it’s an employee benefit scheme or an incentive and reward.

Some top tips to make your scheme success:

  1. Don’t have a scheme just because everyone else has. Consider your business goals and objectives, and how an incentive or reward will help you deliver those objectives
  2. Think carefully about how the benefits and rewards you offer link to your desired business and team behaviour. These benefits and rewards should drive behaviour, so you need to ensure that you are offering the right rewards to get the desired behaviour.
  3. Consult with your staff when designing the scheme as this will encourage participation once launched.
  4. Communicate what your goals are, how the scheme works, and what the rewards and benefits are. Communication needs to be on-going, so involve other teams and use the expertise in the business, such as your marketing or communications team. Let your staff know about every success, new targets, or new benefits and rewards that are available. On-going communication from the HR team and management will help maintain the momentum of the scheme and ensure its success.
  5. Measure the success of the scheme by tracking it against the business objectives. Is it helping you achieve them? If not why not? Are your objectives the right objectives? Is the scheme understood by all your employees? Do you have the right offering?

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer to what benefits and rewards will keep your employees happy, loyal and productive. There is only what is right for your business and your employees.