Bird’s brainstorm: Perks pale when staff still fight for fair pay

Jessica Bird Bird's Brainstorm

At Employee Benefits, we spend much of our time considering the balance of importance between financial rewards, exciting perks, and the deeper culture of an organisation. The argument increasingly lands on the side of saying that, while pay is an important hygiene factor, it is not the be all and end all in the employee-employer relationship.

On weeks such as this, however, we are reminded that, for many, a luxurious suite of wellbeing, work-life balance and lifestyle benefits pales in appeal compared with the need for basic pay security.

Whether it is ongoing industrial action on the part of employees providing vital home care services to NHS patents in Lincolnshire, or the case of a teacher on a zero-hours contract fighting to get the correct holiday remuneration, there are many in the UK for whom fair pay is not a guarantee.

On a more positive note, this week has seen a slew of organisations make improvements in this area; for example, Lineside Logistics staff at Ford’s Dagenham plant received a 3% pay rise, to be backdated to July 2019, energy organisation Drax had its two-year pay deal accepted by employees, and across the pond, UPS implemented a series of raises and back-pay awards to approximately 250,000 full and part-time members of staff.

Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan’s Good Work Standard and the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Hours campaign show that the external pressure is building on organisations to carefully consider how their employees are compensated.

Financial security is not always as simple as paying a fair wage, though. For example, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced it will further consult on changes to the NHS pension scheme, in the hope of allowing senior clinicians to take on additional work, improving their finances now, without the fear of tax charges impacting their future security during retirement.

In addition, with scrutiny on the gender pay and pensions gaps only set to increase, employers would be wise to consider how benefits such as parental leave arrangements can influence an employee’s financial position.

A healthy paycheck, then, is an important place to start, but is far from the full solution to employee financial wellness, which is itself only one part of any organisation’s approach to increasing satisfaction, engagement and productivity.

Jessica Bird
Deputy editor
Tweet: @jess_jbird