Employers spend a sizeable proportion of their wage bill on benefits, but may not necessarily know how much the perks provided are actually valued by staff.
They can, however, be reassured by the fact that the benefits staff appreciate the most tend to be those that are most commonly provided. When employees were asked to pick up to three benefits they value the most out of those that they are given by their employer, 46% selected their occupational pension, making it the most valued perk. It is the most commonly-provided perk apart from holiday (see previous page). Those working in the public sector appear to place a greater value on their pension than those in the private sector. This may be partly to do with the fact that defined benefit pension schemes are still pretty widespread in the public sector.
Flexible working, extra holidays for long service and bonuses also ranked highly when employees were asked to select three benefits they value the most out of those they currently receive. Again, these perks are widely provided by employers. Flexible working was valued more by those earning below £50,000 than above and by those working for charities and voluntary bodies, and in the public sector than in the private sector. Bonuses were particularly valued by those in the private sector and extra holidays for long service by those in the public sector.
Although private medical insurance is only received by 14% of employees, this perk is valued more by employees than life assurance cover, which is provided to 19% of staff. A tenth of employees value this perk, compared with 6% who appreciate life assurance as a benefit.
Cars are also highly valued by staff, irrespective of whether they are provided as a traditional company car (5%) or in the form of a car allowance (4%).
Both private medical insurance (PMI) and company cars were valued significantly more highly by those earning £50,000 and above possibly because they are more likely than lower earners to receive these perks. PMI, bonuses and company cars are more valued in the private sector than in the public or voluntary sectors, possibly because they are more widely available.
When employees were asked to pick up to three benefits that they would most like to receive but do not currently get, duvet days, in other words unscheduled paid days leave for rest and recuperation, came out top with 23% selecting this perk. This option is significantly more popular in the public sector than in the voluntary sector. Flexible working, bonuses, extra holidays for long service and private medical insurance (PMI) were all placed quite high up on the list of employees’ most desired perks. PMI was of particular interest to those in the public sector, possibly because the perk is not widely provided by employers in this sector due to public policy reasons. Bonuses found favour among employees on less than £20,000, also probably because they are not common among those in this group unless they are employed in specific job roles such as sales. Although not widely provided to employees, sabbaticals and company cars both sparked a degree of interest among those who do not currently receive these perks with 11% and 9% of employees respectively saying they would like to be given these as part of their benefits package.
The study shows that workers would first and foremost like to receive more than six weeks’ paid holiday if the sky was the limit in perks’ provision. Just over half (51%) of employees selected this option when respondents were asked to pick three benefits they would like to receive in an ideal world. This option was even more popular than six months’ paid holiday after a five-year period of service, which was favoured by two-fifths of respondents. Employees in the public and voluntary sectors favoured these two options above others, however, those in the private sector preferred profit sharing and six weeks’ paid holiday. This suggests that perhaps employers could make greater use of profit-linked bonuses to help motivate staff performance.
The option to work from home also ranked highly and offers employees greater flexibility. This was picked by employees across the board whether in the private, public or voluntary sectors.