By Daniel Hunter

New research reveals that financial and HR directors at UK firms increasingly recognise that employee benefits packages can deliver a tangible impact on the bottom line.

A survey of over 1,150 people shows that the key business benefits delivered include:

- More effective recruitment and retention strategies
- Over 62% of employers believe that employee benefits have become much more important in helping recruit new staff.
- Increased productivity:
- Nearly half of bosses (47%) identify improving productivity as a major advantage of a modern benefits package
- Mitigating the cost volatility associated with staff absence.
- 84.4% of employers identified managing absence as a strategic priority for their company
- With the introduction of auto-enrolment set to affect SMEs in November, businesses will need to find other ways to differentiate themselves in order to recruit the best talent to their workplaces. Following the recession, people now value financial security more when looking for a job, meaning that employee benefits are now more attractive than ever.
- However, 57% of SMES do not have any form of protection to safeguard the business against the risks associated with losing the owner, despite the fact that 42% of SME workers agreed their business would ultimately cease trading as a result of the loss of a business owner.

However, the research also shows that a lack of communication between departments can act as a barrier preventing firms taking action.

“It is encouraging that these findings show that business decision makers clearly understand the business benefits of offering a comprehensive reward package," Steve Harry, Finance Director of Unum, said.

"By offering an appropriate mix of benefits — including flexible working, wellbeing initiatives and long-term financial protection, such as Income Protection and a pension — firms can boost productivity, develop an effective recruitment and retention strategy, and minimise the disruption and cost of staff absence.

“With many businesses currently planning for their staging date as part of pensions auto-enrolment and beginning to budget for the next financial year, there is a real opportunity for finance teams to take the lead on a more fundamental review of their firm’s reward strategy, ensuring it supports business objectives.

"By working together to align employee benefits with business needs, finance and HR teams can deliver a real competitive advantage for their employers.”

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