7 alternative employee benefits

7 alternative employee benefits to offer when salary increases aren’t possible

Sometimes the public sector is restricted when it comes to salary bands, so what can they offer to secure the best candidates? Jamie Elliott, Principal Consultant of Third Sector and Charities, reflects on what additional benefits can build up an appealing remuneration package that seals the deal for top talent.

With the increasing cost of bills, there is no denying that the salary for a role is incredibly important. However, if you are trying to attract the best people with a slightly more stringent salary bracket, there are alternative employee benefits you can offer, with a less financial impact to your organisation, but will still appeal to top applicants.

Unlimited holiday – Unlimited holiday is a fairly new premise but has seen huge success with talent attraction and retention in larger companies, with many proven benefits – it builds a culture of trust, it results in less sick days, it creates better productivity in teams, and it reduces staff turnover. However, implementing it should be done so with HR oversight – workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year, and is a legal requirement. With unlimited holidays, expectations can be unclear, not just resulting in staff not taking the legal minimum time off, but also abusing the policy. Be mindful of your internal communications when rolling out and speaking about unlimited holiday, set fair and clear expectations, and be sure that whilst you’re not counting, your HR team are aware of what’s happening to avoid burnout or team resentment building.

Community – Full time team members spend two thirds of their week in work. It is important they feel secure, supported, and happy, which will help with both acquisition and retention of staff. By building a real community amongst your teams, you can offer something truly unique and not something often felt in more corporate environments. A community can be something as a small as a regularly used and light-hearted group chat on your platform of choice, or regular office days with an extended lunch so colleagues can catch up and bond. It could be offering mentor/mentee schemes, wellbeing support and regular team building.Often in charities and not-for-profit organisations, employees’ bond over a shared passion or empathy for a cause, creating an excellent foundation for teams to build upon. Make the most of this by creating environments for communities to thrive.

Flexible working – It feels almost redundant to mention the benefits of flexible working but still organisations aren’t truly embracing what it means. Flexible is different things for different people – neurodivergent people may need a different working environment, working parents may need to split hours throughout the day to accommodate for childcare, creatives might need to work in a loud, busy environment, whereas those working in confidential roles need places to make private calls. Flexible does not mean 2 set days working from home, it means allowing employees to work in whatever environment, and during the times that work for them (within business needs, of course).

Duvet Days – Duvet days can be a divisive topic amongst employers, and people do tend to have strong feelings either way. From a positive perspective, offering Duvet Days show a company’s mental health awareness and compassion to situations that can have an impact on a worker’s ability to bring their best selves to work. They reduce unnecessary sick days, tackling the problem of tracking ‘are they physically ill or are they emotionally unavailable today?’ for the workforce, and by introducing the metric of duvet days, it can highlight trends which can be supported by HR initiatives to reduce staff fatigue and low morale. Of course, the concern with Duvet Days come down to resource and planning. If you’re a small company, with sole responsibility lying with one employee, an unexpected day off can be a problem. This is something to be mindful of when deciding whether to offer duvet days as a benefit.

Annual Internal Awards – Benefits don’t always have to be monetary or relate to staffs’ lives away from the office. Hosting an annual awards ceremony, which looks to honour staff contributions through the year and acts as a good opportunity for a staff get-together, is a great boost to morale and encourages teams to work harder throughout the year. It shows staff that they are valued and the work they do matters, which improves their self-confidence, productivity, and motivation.

Dedicated Professional Development plans – Following on from annual awards, staff professional development is another great benefit that companies don’t always get right. Some team members get bored when they’re not challenged, and new joiners want to know there is progression in their role should they want it. Working with their managers, if staff have access to set, clear, development pathways with pre-determined goals and timeframes, it shows commitment from the company to their development and an interest in them as a person, not just as payroll number. This is a time commitment from the organisation more than anything else, allowing managers time to run the programmes, and team members to attend webinars and seminars in working hours.

Pet friendly offices – Not always possible, but one to be considered if your company is able to. By allowing staff to bring their friendlier pets to the office, you can alleviate the financial pressure on staff of hiring a pet sitter, the stress of having to leave their four-legged friends at home and it is proven to boost team spirits when they’re greeted by a waggy tail as they arrive in the office.