Google is well known for its staff engagement strategy, but if you're a little unsure about replacing your lifts with slides between floors or installing a vintage Pacman game, there are plenty of other things you can do.
- Business psychology company Robertson Cooper gives staff an extra day's leave called a "happiness day" to spend doing whatever they want.
- Hosting theme days is a great way to put a smile on workers' faces. After all, who wouldn't laugh out loud at the sight of their boss in fancy dress? You could be tame with themes such as ‘ugliest tie' or go all out and have favourite superhero and cartoon character days.
- Office fruit baskets are available for a relatively low cost (small boxes cost around £10-15) and have the added bonus of ensuring your workers get some of their five a day, keeping them fighting fit.
- Hold some company or team meetings out of the office and make them casual dress. Tack on a (non-compulsory) drink or meal afterwards. You may be surprised how an informal setting can drive ideas and help people speak up.
- It's important to not just recognise staff who have made the biggest financial contribution to your business, staff who contribute to the company in more subtle ways, such as helping new starters or making the best cup of tea, also deserve praise.
- Choose an employee of the month and give them special privileges like an extra-long lunch break or early finishes. Everyone will be clamouring for the honour the next month!
As well as the core wellbeing benefits that help protect employees' health, ‘softer' benefits provide a well-rounded and comprehensive package, and score highly on the staff benefit-o-meter!
These may include:
- flexible working
- season ticket loans
- extra holidays (either to reward long service or an option to ‘buy or sell' existing holiday entitlement)
- childcare vouchers
- retail vouchers
- gym membership
- on-site car parking
- cycle to work scheme
- dress down
- dining cards
- free or subsidised tea/coffee/lunch
Costs will, of course, vary, but the goodwill generated is priceless
Employee benefits for health and wellbeing
Here's an overview of some of the top Group Risk, and health and wellbeing benefits according to research by Employee Benefits magazine6.
Remember that there may be tax and National Insurance implications for both your business and your employees, so you should always talk to a professional tax adviser.
Life Insurance/Death in Service
Life insurance provides peace of mind and a tax-free lump sum (typically between 1x salary and 6x salary, though 4x salary is common) to an employee's loved ones should an employee die, helping relieve money worries at a very difficult time.
A pension is designed to fund a person’s retirement. With auto enrolment, all companies now have to offer their employees the opportunity to join a pension scheme. The majority of these are now what’s called a Defined Contribution scheme – where the money is invested by a pension provider chosen by you. These have now largely replaced the more traditional Defined Benefit scheme – where the amount someone is paid in retirement is based upon how many years the person has worked for you and the salary they’ve earned during that time.
Income Protection and Sick Pay Insurance
Both Income Protection and Sick Pay Insurance can provide a percentage of income if an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury, so you don't have to. The difference is that:
- Income Protection covers long-term absence - typically, it starts to pay out after your employee's been off work for 6 months (called a deferred period, or waiting period) though this time can vary depending on the policy chosen. It usually continues to pay them until either they return to work, or for 2, 3 or 5 years, or until they reach retirement age.
- A product like Sick Pay Insurance covers short-term absence. Depending on your provider, it can start to pay out after your employee's been off work for just one week and continues to pay them for up to a year.
However, neither policy covers your staff against redundancy.
Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
Not to be confused with Income Protection, PAI can pay out a one-off, tax-free lump sum if an employee dies or suffers a permanent total disability following an accident or unforeseen event. It doesn’t cover sickness or general disability.
Medical or Health Cash Plan
A medical/health cash plan essentially covers smaller health issues. Depending on the condition claimed, it can either reimburse or pay towards healthcare such as minor dental work, check-ups, eye tests and physiotherapy..
Private Medical Insurance (PMI)
PMI is designed to meet either part or all of the cost of private medical treatment. It typically covers acute illness or injury, but usually excludes any pre-existing conditions.
Critical Illness Insurance
Critical Illness Insurance can pay a tax-free lump sum directly to an employee if they suffer any of a list of defined medical conditions or surgical procedures - classified as critical illnesses - and survive for a set amount of days afterwards – generally between 14-30.
Counselling or Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP)
An EAP offers a range of support tools to employees on a wide range of work/life issues, including counselling. Importantly, they typically include employer support too.
Dental cover is fast gaining in popularity as an employee benefit7. Depending on the plan chosen, it can cover 100% of NHS charges and contribute towards private dental treatment up to a set annual limit for a range of procedures.
Employers pay for regular eye tests and either for, or towards, the cost of glasses if required.