Kavitha’s keynote: Reflecting on benefits and business strategy

Kavitha's keynote

With the gloomiest day of the year, ‘Blue Monday’ on 21 January, looming, many employers are thinking about how they can make staff feel happier and more supported in the workplace using their benefits offering. The new year is also a time when organisations take the opportunity to review and implement initiatives in line with their overarching business strategy.

At UK hotel chain Travelodge a new recruitment programme has been introduced which is specifically designed to help parents return to work. It allows successful job applicants to take advantage of flexible working hours, training, coaching from a work buddy and tailored online careers advice.

The launch of the scheme follows a survey of 451 unemployed parents carried out by Travelodge with YouGov, which found that 86% of respondents wanted to return to work. However, the scarcity of jobs with flexibility around the school run was the biggest challenge for 59% of those polled.

The hotel chain hopes to support working parents by providing such flexibility, with its chief executive officer Peter Gowers explaining that hospitality can offer a great career for parents because these jobs can be close to home, involve hours that work around the school run, offer benefits that suit families and provide a path into management.

Certainly, any move to help parents in work has business benefits too, with organisations that choose to do so reaping the rewards of unlocking a fresh talent pool.

Another benefit that we have reported the introduction of this week, which aims to meet the workforce’s needs, is subsidised gym membership for 300,000 employees at supermarket retailer Tesco.

Again, this initiative was implemented on the back of employer research, with Tesco’s first annual employee health survey revealing that employees were struggling to find ways to improve their health and wellbeing.

While on the topic of valued benefits, 62% of respondents to research by global advisory and brokering organisation Willis Towers Watson state that a contributory pension scheme is among their top five. The study of 2,000 UK employees also found health insurance (43%), life insurance (40%), critical illness cover (35%) and health cash plans (32%) to be highly valued within the employee benefits package.

With the number of job listings and job hunters on the rise at the start of a new year, perhaps now is an appropriate time for all employers to reflect on their benefits offering, ensuring it is in line with its business strategy as well as meeting the needs of its employees.


Kavitha Sivasubramaniam
Tweet: @kavithasiva_EB