Employee benefits that don’t break the bank

financial perks

by Robert Hicks, group HR director

Balancing competing needs for your HR budget is tricky, and at times when you want to do something you need to be able to do so either at very low cost levels, or even for no money at all.

Chances are, you’ve got a few senior-level team members checking and double checking that budget spreadsheet a little closely nowadays. It can be a challenge to think up employee benefits that don’t break the bank, but it’s not impossible.

Get your CFO (and your employees) on your side with a few of these ideas.

The free to-do
This one is simple. And better yet, it’s free (to your employees). Set up an E-cards thank-you programme. This is super easy to do, and means that you create a free to send recognition scheme that gives the power to all of your staff to say thank you and well done to colleagues, to their manager or peers. By opening up this tool to staff you instantly make recognition a powerful tool that can touch every employee with immediate effects.

The power of a well designed e-card thank you scheme can be such that a manager can thank a whole team, a CEO can recognise sales efforts or service excellence with just a few clicks of a button. You can also be a little creative, like we did with our latest Grumpy Cat eCard (shown below). This power, the ability to recognise the efforts of individuals and teams means that you also start to break the view that recognition is about money, and create the mindset that it is is about the thank you, from everyone in the company.

The second idea is on the same theme, recognition, this time is slightly more formal, and is a Thank You Awards programme. Working on the principles of recognition a Thank You Awards programme could utilise the same tools as the e-cards and you could have public nominations which would then be judged by an independent group who would then select the winners for that all important public praise. We do this through our Thank You Awards, which are a big hit every quarter with our employees. Your winners can be recognised publicly – we do so at our quarterly all-staff meeting so all employees (not just their managers) understand how teamwork makes the dream work (another of our eCards).

The one that saves you money
The next idea is to introduce salary and payroll sacrifice schemes, which are available depending where your employer is located.The most well known of these, salary sacrifice; revolves around Childcare Vouchers, these are almost free for employers to run, but offer a great tax saving to the employee and also a modest tax saving to the employer too, they are a must do for any employer wishing to enhance their benefit offering. Second of the salary sacrifices benefits is a cycle to work scheme, which has the same tax benefits as the childcare vouchers but also has added value of a positive wellbeing impact if you are thinking of giving some focus in the health and wellbeing spaces.

A new style benefit which will soon be a must have for all employers, that of salary net deduction is where the employee sacrifices a post-tax share of their salary for a benefit is new to the market, but allows those with specific requirements to utilise them in certain key areas. The best of these is in the technology space, where if you offer a technology payroll sacrifice scheme you can offer staff the chance to buy state of the art technology without the need to take out loans or other finance options, especially great for the tech conscious staff (especially around Christmas time!). While there is an aspect of cashflow to be managed, the cost of doing this for an employee is likely to be less than their season ticket loan cost, so the principle of payroll sacrifice and helping employees manage their spending is well established.

The one that you need to spend a little on
At the heart of every rewards programme you need that little extra, that magic something that touches everyone.  And a well run and well communicated employee discounts programme will deliver amazing returns on investment and be applicable to every single employee from the CEO down.

Nearly everyone does grocery shopping, everyone likes to take holidays, buys presents for birthdays and other celebrations, and if they do this through your discounts programme then they can make some great savings every time they spend. We’ve talked a lot about why employee discounts programmes make a lot of sense in our other blog posts.

Whilst a discounts programme does cost some money to setup and maintain, especially those that offer a great service, that cost will be far exceeded by the total savings that your employees will be able to make through the scheme. Use some of of the annual pay budget to build an amazing scheme for all staff, which would be an amazing benefit for them to use at all times during the year, making savings every time they make a purchase.

HR teams have a number of tools that they can draw upon to adjust and improve their benefit offerings with only minimal impact on the bottom line, keeping the CFO happy, but importantly having a huge impact on the overall value that their employees feel from the benefits that you offer.

My advice would be to do as many as you can, and let the employees pick what suits them best, as for every one you do you will make some employees just that little bit happier.