Traditionally larger employers offered extensive benefits to employees, which have also extended to include their partners and families. Going back to the early 1920s, the likes of Cadbury provided their employees with housing, education and healthcare. In addition to this, the whole area of Bourneville village was specifically for the benefit of the Cadbury workers and their families, with no charges for the use of any of the sporting facilities by Cadbury employees or their families. A legacy to be proud of, but today it can be said most employees don’t expect such extensive support from their employer.

Is there still scope in the workplace for benefits that recognise employees and their families, or are they just a costly luxury?

Are benefits for friends and family too expensive?

In recent years employers have been facing some tough financial and economic pressures, and, as a result, benefits for employees’ dependants have come under pressure. There has been a steady trend of employers withdrawing employee benefits for employees’ families, as they are just too expensive to provide.

But, in some cases, the cost isn’t just financial. Offering benefits for employees’ friends and family can influence their decision making process about job offers with prospective employers. Providing employees with an attractive family-friendly benefits package can not only help you attract good staff, but also helps create greater loyalty, leading to improved employee performance and retention.

Can companies afford not to offer benefits to friends and family?

We know there is a clear correlation between appreciated employees and a higher level of engagement. So, by offering benefits that extend to friends, family and dependants of employees, you can reinforce appreciation via their support network and therefore increase engagement levels.

Furthermore, with legislative changes affecting working parents coming into force over the next few years, organisations are increasingly keen to be able to offer a family-friendly work environment, and so are making good use of voluntary and flexible benefits.

Employers are now using their flexible and voluntary employee benefits schemes as an easy, and cost-effective, way to deliver perks to family members.

Receiving discounts on everyday expenses can improve the lives of many, help to reduce stress, and ultimately increase employee productivity. And some benefits don’t even need to cost the employer, with cost neutral staff purchase schemes for its own products, and services that can be extended to family and friends.

Do not underestimate the power of these schemes as a focal point for discussion inside and outside of work – employees love telling their friends and family about how they have saved money courtesy of their employer. This is an excellent loyalty message which delivers above and beyond by creating positive PR for the employer.

Companies offering ‘friends and family’ benefits: 

AVIS Car Hire UK – Employees at AVIS are eligible to receive reduced rates of up to 25% on car rental. This also includes any friends and family renting cars.

Vodafone – The company’s Employee Advantage Scheme means employees are entitled to get up to 20% off their mobile phone plan – and so can up to five of their friends and family.

Flybe.com – As well as employees having access to discounted car hire, travel insurance and ferry travel, Flybe also offer all employees a travel incentive where they receive great discounts for family and friends across worldwide airlines.

John Lewis Partnership – After three months’ continuous service, employees can stay, at a subsidised rate, with their families and friends at one of the residential clubs or caravans owned by the John Lewis partnership.

First Group – Depending upon which division they work for, employees will enjoy free bus or rail travel. Each year, employees in addition to their families and friends can also enjoy significant savings on First UK bus and rail services.

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