Jacqueline Benjamin, Xexec
As more and more organisations look to offer benefits that make a tangible difference to their employees’ quality of life, offering concierge services as a voluntary benefit has gone from being 'nice to have' to forming a key part of any comprehensive benefits package. As with any benefits, success lies in how well a company knows its employees, its own workplace culture and its competition. There are a broad range of services available in the marketplace and it’s important for employers to tailor their concierge services appropriately. So why are employers offering concierge?
Fostering a happy and motivated workforce is not only about offering financial benefits and incentives to employees. There is a huge importance of employee recognition programmes that facilitate saying 'thank you' to members of staff and encourage positive behaviours in the workplace. On top of this, employers are also looking outside the workplace for ways in which they can add value to their employees’ lives, saving time and money and improving their work-life balance. Some commentators have attributed this to the influence of the millennial workforce, for whom salary and career prospects are not necessarily as important as lifestyle and well-being. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that it's the Silicon Valley companies that are best known for leading the way in lifestyle-orientated benefits, from Facebook's egg-freezing coverage to Netflix's unlimited paid leave. For these businesses, such perks are as much about attracting the best people in a competitive employment market, as they are about retaining and making staff feel valued.
There are also practical advantages to offering concierge services to employees, particularly those services that help them organise their personal lives. It has been estimated that staff organising their personal lives from work costs the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
So what type of concierge services can employers offer and what should employers consider when developing a package of their own?
Concierge has evolved from being an exclusive service focused on high flying, busy senior executives, struggling to balance the demands of work life with their personal or family lives, to something that is being enjoyed by employees across the board. Employers can offer a dedicated team, either with an on-site desk, or contactable by phone, to assist with a range of lifestyle-focused services. They tend to fall into three categories:
- Travel: these can range from researching the best holiday packages, booking flights, cars and hotels to offering bespoke, personalised holiday planning
- Tickets/social: sourcing and booking tickets for anything from theatre performances, restaurant reservations and sporting events and car hire
- Personal: can include the likes of gift sourcing, organising a cleaner, health, beauty and fitness assistance
Given the range of services on offer, it's important to make concierge services as bespoke as possible. This will ultimately make them successful – leading to greater employee engagement – but can also help with budgeting. For example, high-earning executives, working very long hours in sectors such as financial services, may engage much more with time-saving services such as gift sourcing or bespoke holiday booking, whereas employees at a supermarket or high street brand might be more interested in concert tickets and events. At the end of the day, you want your staff to use these services, so it pays to understand what they will value.
Viewed in a wider context, the growth of concierge services as a benefit is indicative of the move towards more 'lifestyle' orientated packages. This is also reflected in what's being offered to employees in terms of salary sacrifice and voluntary benefits – discounts and tax incentives geared towards making their lives outside of work more balanced, fulfilled and valued.