Young learners and recent graduates are the talents of the future, and companies large and small work hard to attract the best and brightest. However, what makes a big difference for jobseekers on whether they agree to join is the salary on offer and the perks and benefits that are part of the package.. In this piece, we take a look at why employee perks and benefits are so important – especially for ambitious SMEs – and the range of benefits that arise from investing in them. 

We’ve all read the stories of some of the incredible perks and benefits that the world’s largest tech firms offer from their thousand-acre campuses. 

On-site fitness centres, free childcare facilities, hefty stipends for tech upgrades, unlimited vacations, baby bonuses and even free Scuba lessons are just some of the eye-catching offerings we’ve seen of late! 

These are all well and good for big organisations to offer employees to help attract and retain the best talent, but if you’re an SME looking to introduce some perks and benefits of your own, these examples will no doubt be too expensive and impractical to offer.

However, there are fundamental business benefits that surround the offering of these types of additional perks for employees. Here’s a look at some of the key ones.

Top talent will choose who they work for

Being competitive in the hiring market is critical for achieving organisational objectives – especially at smaller companies where every employee needs to pull their weight (and in the case of startups, likely manage 1.5-2 people’s responsibilities in the early days). 

The best talent on the market will always have a choice of who they wish to work for and numerous offers to consider. If Company A offers a great salary but no benefits, and Company B offers the same salary and a range of healthcare, childcare, and flexible working options, which company do you think that top talent is more likely to choose? 

A study from earlier this year found that eight in 10 HR leaders think hybrid working is a critical benefit when it comes to attracting the best talent, highlighting just how essential the right working packages are to getting people through the door. 

The types of perks and benefits offered are important too though, and job searchers are growing increasingly observant when it comes to ‘red flags’ in job descriptions. For example, pizza parties, pool tables, ‘like a family’ cultures and early Friday finishes (only offered by working longer hours Monday-Thursday) may shine more of a negative light on your organisation when in isolation. 

Combine these fun perks with a purpose-built social recognition and rewards system, flexible working options, well-being and health support, and you’re more likely to pique the interest of the most in-demand talent on the market. 

Perks and benefits can be cost-effective

First off, we need to make it very clear that the occasional Friday office drinks aren’t going to put a sticking plaster over stagnant pay or a toxic work culture. 

Employee loyalty is built on trust, autonomy, appreciation, development opportunities and fair remuneration. But the right perks and benefits can help keep staff in place too, even if rival companies offer to pay a little more.

For example, one study from IWG found that 72% of office workers would prefer long-term flexibility over a pay rise, whilst 35% of employees in this survey said they’d forgo career development opportunities to be able to continue working from home. 

Studies like this mean it’s possible to calculate an ROI from your perks and benefits schemes against potential or actual mitigated costs – especially as the true cost of replacing a top employee can run from 4x their annual salary through recruitment fees and lost productivity. 

Happy staff = happy bottom line 

One of the core reasons why organisations offer perks and benefits is that it supports staff morale. 

A mountain of research supports the fact that happy employees are more productive, and companies with the happiest employees enjoy loftier profits. 

Research from Oxford University puts the happy > productive figure at 13%, whilst this ‘happiness dividend’ is even more pronounced in sales-based teams with revenues rising by nearly 40%

Employee happiness is an important consideration for organisations of any size, but especially SMEs. This is because emotions are contagious in an office setting, and the smaller the office, the more likely that one disengaged or unhappy staff member can rub off on everyone else. 

A focus on wellness is critical 

Health and well-being are binary issues – you either have them, or you don’t. 

The damaging impact of poor mental, emotional and physical health in the workplace is well documented with burnout alone resulting in impaired decision-making, reduced creativity, productivity, and more sick days too. 

Perhaps the biggest shift in perks and benefits over the last decade (outside of remote working) has been a keener focus on well-being initiatives, including free gym passes and access to on-demand mental health support. 

A focus on health and work/life balance is becoming a critical deciding factor for prospective employees too, with 62% of 500 HRDs saying that they’ve seen candidates reject offers based on a lack of well-being support as part of the package offered. 

Wanting to support and improve the well-being of your people should be a fundamental objective of any organisation though, including SMEs. Sick days and reduced productivity are harmful to growth and profitability… through wanting your employees to be well should be a given too! 

Great employer branding

Employer and consumer branding have never been so closely aligned. Companies that treat their staff well, and are known for doing so, will likely attract more loyal customers. Conversely, get known for poor management practices or mass firings, and your customers will vote with their ethics and shop elsewhere. 

Perks and benefits can help build a positive employer brand through increased employee advocacy. 

Those work socials, flexible work offerings, and support with well-being will likely garner staff shoutouts across LinkedIn, Twitter, and Glassdoor as to how great your organisation is to work for. 

Staff shoutouts and reviews are really important because 86% of job searchers will check out what employees say about working at your company – and even dig into your socials to see what current staff are posting to get a feel for what working there is actually like. 

The right perks and benefits will positively influence your employer brand, which will in turn enhance your attractiveness in the hiring market, consumer trust and loyalty, and ultimately support profits. 

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