Incentives packages that help retain staff

It can be difficult for a small company to see incentive packages as a priority but the benefits don't have to be huge to make a difference.

While employers can be picky about who they employ, if they want to get the best talent and retain it, they need to make sure they have a good benefits package in place.

So if you’re in the market for new staff, here’s what you need to do to get ahead and stay there.

The most popular benefits packages on offer

If you’re a small business, it can be tough coming up with a competitive benefits package, but studies have shown that a basic benefits package works as well as anything, so if you’re stuck for ideas you may want to consider the following:

  • Company vehicle – The company car is one of the more common and most effective perks you can offer employees, with 60 per cent of company car owners saying they would only move to a job that offered a car of similar value.
  • Flexible working – Rising childcare costs and the need for a better work/life balance means flexible working could appeal to a whole range of employees. Flexible working can take a number of forms, from homeworking to irregular hours in order to avoid a traffic-ridden commute, and it could also have the added benefit of cutting overheads and increasing productivity, too.
  • Healthcare – Offering access to private medical insurance, dental cover, health screening and physiotherapy can be popular among employees, particularly if it’s also extended to cover immediate family. You could also throw in a gym membership as part of an overall health package.
  • Holidays – All employees love time off, so it may be a good idea to up the number of days’ leave you offer them, and maybe add extra maternity and paternity leave and even the option to take a sabbatical.
  • Pensions – The new rules on workplace pensions mean all businesses, no matter how big or small, need to automatically enrol eligible employees into a scheme. You could put in place a scheme that goes above and beyond this if you think your staff will be interested.
  • Shares – If you’re confident your company is on the up, you could offer a employee ownership trust scheme so employees can share in the success. These kind of schemes can also come with tax benefits.

So there are a few benefits you could offer, but what’s to say they’ll work?

Although there’s no cast-iron guarantee a good benefits package will retain staff, or even bring them in in the first place, businesses that do offer incentives insist these added perks help with recruitment, retention, productivity and morale.

If you need the numbers to back up the anecdotal evidence, research by Employee Benefits – found that 84 per cent of businesses polled said benefits had helped with retention, 83 per cent recorded easier recruitment, while 72 per cent said it improved wellbeing.

Having a flexible benefits scheme in place may even be cost-effective for your business; according to research by business specialists Mercer, 36 per cent of businesses say they save money from offering benefits while 46 per cent say there are no additional costs.

Think outside the box and a good benefits package could be more cost effective, and just as well received, as offering a pay rise.

Medical insurance ‘a good staff incentive’

More employers are using medical insurance as a perk to ‘recruit and retain the best quality staff’, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Spokesperson for the ABI Jonathan French says that the private health sector is becoming more attractive to employees and giving them access to these services can make a potential or existing employer more appealing.

In addition, employers can benefit from their staff recovering from any conditions more quickly.

‘It’s an important thing for [employers] from a productivity point of view and that, of course, has knock-on benefits to the overall productivity of the economy,’ French comments.

According to figures produced by the ABI, more than seven million Britons have some level of private medical insurance.

Incentivising staff with travel

Travel incentives have been shown to improve productivity and motivation and they can also help improve the overall culture of the business, creating that ‘feel-good’ factor that keeps staff happy.

Top tips for running travel incentive programmes

Below are some top tips for running a successful travel incentive programme. These can help maximise the benefits to employees and the return on investment for your business.

  • Research: It’s important that employees value the incentive offered. Do a bit of research to find out what travel options would appeal to the individuals involved. 
  • Keep rewards aligned with business performance: Choose performance indicators that make sense to employees, e.g. a sales target, number of calls answered or achieving a 5 per cent reduction in complaints.
  • Reward across the board: High earners and achievers are valuable but try to create opportunities for rewards at different staffing levels. This keeps everyone engaged and interested.
  • Reward teams as well as individuals: This helps teams pull together and encourages employees to help each other in pursuit of a shared reward. It can also boost internal morale.
  • Consider rewards for peer voted ‘stars’: This is where the staff vote for their own best employee of the month. Again, it can boost morale and motivation for all involved.
  • Make it exciting: Maintain momentum going by keeping rewards stay fresh and interesting. Staff meeting bulletins or updates on a staff notice board can help feed this idea and keep everyone on track.
  • Acknowledge the reward publicly: Appoint a manager or senior figure to present rewards to staff and make it a real occasion. This will increase engagement with the scheme and give winners that warm fuzzy feeling that makes them happy to work for you.

Further reading on staff retention

What benefits do you offer your staff? Have you found it makes any difference to recruitment or staff retention? Share your experiences with us in a comment.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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