By Emma Small, Busy Bees Benefits

The foundation of a great organisation is its employees. Attracting skilled staff is one thing, but how do you keep them? – through offering employee benefits.

There is a common misconception that offering employee benefits to staff is expensive. This is not true. There are many employee benefits to choose from, some have a cost associated with them, some can be provided at no cost to the organisation at all and salary sacrifice employee benefits provide savings to the organisation as well as employees, so why should you offer them to your staff?

Recruiting - As well as being a great tool in retaining staff, employee benefits also play an important role in attracting key personnel when recruiting. To remain competitive, employers need to offer benefits that attract the right staff they are looking for and job seekers compare employers, not just by the salary they offer, they also look to see what employee benefits they provide.

Making pay go further – At a time when pay rises are harder to give, employee benefits can be used as a non-cash incentive which could provide greater savings than a pay rise would give. Employees want a better work-life balance and these days, there is an expectation that employers should help them to do this. There are a range of benefits available to help with specific aspects of your employees' lives such as Childcare Vouchers for more affordable childcare or Retail Discounts for savings on lifestyle costs.

Value – Offering benefits to your staff is great, but offering the right benefits package is better. Organisations should do some research before implementing employee benefits by asking their employees which benefits they would like to use, ensuring they are suitable for your workforce's needs. Providing employees with benefits they value will help to keep them more satisfied at work, reduce sick days and enhance retention.

Mix it up – Providing an employee benefits package which has a variety of options, including benefits offering large savings, free benefits and essential benefits, will give employees the choice of what they would like to use. This will in turn, make them feel rewarded; improving production, motivation and retention.

Reward – Some employee benefits can be used as rewards. Schemes that do not have to be offered to all staff can be delivered as a reward incentive when goals are achieved to show staff how much they are valued. This will help to keep employees focused as the organisation is providing benefits they really want.

The employee benefits you offer can say a lot about the core values of the business as they demonstrate how much you understand and care about your employees. Employee benefits offer organisations a powerful solution to attracting and retaining staff, whilst at the same time providing savings for the organisation. So, what should you offer?

Depending on what your employees would like to use, there many employee benefits to choose from.

Salary sacrifice – salary sacrifice benefits provide savings to employees in the form of tax and National Insurance, as deductions for benefits are taken directly from employees' wages. By doing so, these benefits do not attract Employers National Insurance contributions; saving the organisation money each time a deduction is made by an employee. Some examples include:
- Mobile Phones – employees can make savings on their mobile phone bills. They are offered a variety of excellent tariffs and handsets to choose from, at lower rates than available on the high street.
- Childcare Vouchers – these help to make childcare more affordable for working parents. They can choose to deduct up to £243 from their wages each month in return for the same amount of vouchers to use to pay their registered childcare provider. By doing so employees can save up to £933 per year.
- Cycle to Work – employers can help their employees to get fit by offering a Cycle to Work scheme. Employees can get a brand-new bicycle at a discounted rate and pay for it over a set period through their salary. Research has found that cycling to work can improve health and fitness, reducing sickness and absenteeism.
- Other salary sacrifice employee benefits include: Car Leasing, Earn and Learn and Workplace Parking.

Lifestyle – everyone likes to make savings on their lifestyle costs. Benefits such as Retail Discounts, Car Care and Will Writing can be offered to help employees to make excellent savings on their everyday costs. These benefits are free to offer and the cost can either be passed onto employees or paid for by the organisation and given as a reward or incentive.