Last week, I came across an article about a publishing company (in no way related to Employee Benefits) offering its employees the opportunity to purchase an extra day’s holiday over the Christmas period. In itself, this is not unusual. It is a benefit we regularly cover; while putting the search term ‘holiday purchase scheme’ into Google brings up pages of information about organisations that offer this benefit.
What immediately struck me when reading this article, however, is how the benefit was portrayed and apparently perceived by staff. Rather than viewing it as an employee benefit, the overwhelming opinion seemed to be that this was an attempt by the employer to save money by cutting staff pay. This view was supported by trade union the National Union of Journalists, which commenting on the news, referred to it as “the worst cracker joke”.
To me, and this is purely my own opinion, it seems like there is a need here for much greater communication around the benefits available and how these work. Rather than being seen as a pay cut, surely the over-riding focus should be on the benefit staff can choose to sacrifice a portion of their salary for and what this means for individuals who choose to take it up?
Obviously, I’m viewing this purely as an outsider with no knowledge of what else may be occurring within that organisation. It may well be that this view stems from much bigger issues between its employees and their employer, which colour how initiatives such as benefits are perceived. Obviously, if this is the case (and I’m in no way suggesting that it is), more fundamental issues must be addressed in order to improve employee morale and engagement before benefits can be viewed as the employer attended.