The latest news, events and articles from ESPO, including case studies, editorials, blog posts and featured products.

Choosing the right employee benefits for your team

Choosing the right employee benefits for your team

Sodexo, a supplier on our Staff Benefits framework (319), talk about things to consider when choosing the employee benefits for your team.

What should you be considering before deciding on a benefits strategy for your business?
There's a huge range of employee benefits out there in the ether, just waiting to be offered to your team. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to know what to choose. Here's what you should keep in mind.
We’ve spoken to a lot of organisations about finding the right employee benefits for them – and there's rarely a simple answer. You really need to get to know a company, and its people, to work out the best approach to take. We’ve pulled together a few points you'll need to think about, in order to start developing the perfect employee benefit strategy for your people.
Choosing the right employee benefits for your organisation
First things first – if you're going to make sure the benefits you offer are right for your team, you've got to make sure they're right for the wider organisation too.
Whether you're making the decision from a HR, payroll or board level, it's essential not to let your judgement become clouded by solely your job role – or your personality.
It's almost always a bad idea to assume the benefits you want are what everyone wants – remember, not everyone within the organisation will have the same circumstances as you so it needs to be a considered decision.
That all-important return on investment
Your internal benefits budget is obviously going to be an essential consideration, different benefits have different returns on investment and some, such as annual leave purchase, will often pay for themselves. Salary sacrifice schemes will also see you making reduced National Insurance Contributions. 
But it's also important to remember that not every return on your investment will be this direct. Benefits can have a huge impact on retaining employees and reducing costs of repeatedly recruiting and training.
Benefits can also go a long way to improving health and wellbeing, which can, in turn, see absences reduced. One of the most important questions to ask yourself is: what return do you want to see? What outcomes are you trying to achieve?
Your company type
The size and structure of your business will play a big part in the way you provide benefits. For example, there are plenty of benefits packages on the market to make the sort of benefits you'd expect at a huge company much more accessible to SMEs with smaller budgets.
Similarly, there are plenty of procurement frameworks for public sector organisations that can make the whole process a lot simpler.
Factors that determine benefit needs
Once you've thought about the organisation as a whole, the next step is to think about the actual employees who make up that organisation. They're the ones that will really be benefitting after all!
Physical location
Where people live, where they work and how they get between the two have a huge impact on the type of benefits they tend to prefer. Particularly when it comes to commuting benefits!
Whether you're thinking of offering cars, cycling schemes or public transport season tickets, you'll need to consider where your staff are coming from and where they're going to. It probably won't come as much of a surprise that cycling and public transport benefits are more popular than cars in London, for example.
We sing the praises of cycle-to-work schemes quite a lot as we think they're a fantastic way to save money and get in shape, all while getting to work. But they're also not for everyone – particularly if you work somewhere that's inaccessible by bike to anyone but the most seasoned cyclists, such as an out-of-town industrial estate, or if you have a workload largely made up by mobile workers who need to drive to different sites.
There are definite industry trends in which benefits are popular but following them only works if they match your organisation!
With a range of benefits to suit everyone available, you'll need to consider the make-up of your workforce to narrow things down a bit. 
We've looked into what different age groups want from employee benefits previously, and while there's not any huge differences, there are a few variations between the generations.
Typically, older people are more likely to be looking for support with their health, while your younger employees are more likely to be looking for training-related benefits. Generation X, on the other hand – those currently aged about 35 to 50 – are looking for benefits that give them more time off to spend with the family.
Making sure you've got a set of benefits that are relevant to people at different stages of their lives is really important – otherwise, you could have a whole chunk of your workforce feeling left behind.
Personal circumstances
Children are one of the biggest influencers to the types of benefits that people need; with Childcare vouchers being one of the most popular benefits out there. Most organisations will be full of people with children, all of whom will find the voucher scheme to be really helpful.
But they'll be much, much more helpful to lower income employees – as will many other benefits that help people save money.
Some benefits, on the other hand, will require employees to put up some of the cash themselves in order to afford something. Even if it makes something much more affordable, or spreads the cost out more, it still requires people to have a little bit of room in their budget.
So, making sure that everyone has access to benefits that suit their financial situation is another big thing to consider.
Finding out what people want
What's the best way to figure out the right benefits for your people? Well, why not just ask them?
Employee surveys, focus groups, inductions, exit interviews, team meetings and even votes on the final options are all valid ways to find out what people want from benefits.
Whether you're just getting a feel for what people want or putting them in complete control of the decision, it's essential to involve your employees in the process.
When you do, you know you've picked the benefits that people want – and that means they're more likely to use them. At the end of the day, that's the most important thing!

If you would like to find out more about Sodexo’s services or any other suppliers on the Staff Benefits framework (319), please click here.