Coming back to work after the festive break can feel like a struggle for employees who have enjoyed time off with their families, away from the stresses and pressures of the workplace.
A thoughtful employee benefits scheme can go a long way to help ease staff back into their jobs - and with the New Year a time of resolutions and determination for self-improvement, it can provide an opportunity to re-engage and re-motivate staff for the year ahead.
Here are ten top tips for getting the most out of your employee benefit scheme in 2019:
1. Inspire exercise It is common for people to start the new year with ambitious plans to get fit, especially if they have over-indulged during Christmas. Whilst the obvious way to do so is to join a gym – and an employee benefits platform will usually include discounted access to local facilities – there are other, more creative and inspirational ways to support your staff in their fitness goals. Encourage employees to form lunchtime running clubs, or source a local yoga teacher or dance instructor to offer post-work classes. This has the added benefit of creating a healthy social culture within your organisation.
2. Encourage healthy eating Alongside exercise, diet is often forefront of people’s minds at this time of year and offering your staff information about nutrition or inspiration for healthy recipes is a great way to support their aims. There are a host of apps available that are designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle, so think about signposting people to such resources.
3. Mental wellbeing and awareness Awareness of issues around mental health will continue to rise in 2019 and your benefits scheme provides an opportunity to show that your organisation is open and encouraging when it comes to supporting your employees' mental health. This can include anything from offering mindfulness coaching to providing access to professionals such as counsellors or therapists. In addition, It is equally important that senior team members are able to spot the signs of mental ill health and offer appropriate support, so consider arranging training for those with management responsibilities.
4. Dry January There is now an established movement towards abstaining from alcohol for the month of January and some of your staff may have chosen to participate. Consider if there are ways you can adapt social events to take into account people who won’t be nipping to “the local” for the usual pint after work on a Friday with their colleagues; perhaps instead you could offer discounted cinema or theatre tickets, or arrange group visits to late nights at local museums or galleries.
5. Vegan ventures Veganism has become increasingly mainstream and this trend seems set to continue in 2019. It is therefore a great time to update your employee benefits scheme to ensure that it caters to staff who are now following a vegan diet. Are there any local vegan restaurants that you can arrange discounts with? Perhaps offer cooking classes for people new to veganism and unsure how to manage their new diets.
6. Brexit support The UK is set to leave the EU on 29th March this year, and it is likely that this will have direct or indirect consequences for your business and some of your staff. EU nationals living in the UK will need to apply for 'Settled Status', with applications incurring a fee of £65 for an adult and £32.50 for a child under 16. Some businesses and organisations have already announced that they are going to pay their EU staffs’ settlement scheme costs and it may be appropriate to consider whether this is something that your business will offer.
7. Help stretched budgets 2019 is likely to be period of continued political and economic uncertainty and this could have an impact on your bottom line, potentially limiting your ability to offer wage increases. Some employees may be feeling the squeeze and will appreciate benefits that help them stretch their salaries, such as supermarket vouchers or discounts at local clothing outlets.
8. Tackle rising transport costs It was announced at the beginning of the year that UK rail fares will rise by 3.1% in January. Offering staff financial support with the rising cost of travelling to work is often a highly visible and valued benefit. Alternatively, consider whether staff need to travel at rush hour when fares are usually higher, or if you can offer opportunities for flexible working to help cut costs.
9. Staff retention With New Year’s resolutions sometimes focused on career changes, there is a risk that valued employees could be looking for new challenges outside of your organisation. Employee benefits can mitigate this by offering career development opportunities that enable people to develop new skills without needing to leave the company. Think about extra training and other learning and development opportunities as part of your benefits package.
10. Charitable causes Offering staff the opportunity to give something back can help them foster a sense of pride in themselves, whilst also demonstrating the social conscience and values of the business. Volunteering opportunities such as becoming a ‘telephone friend’ at The Silver Line, a charity that supports older people, requires just one hour a week so can be undertaken during office hours with minimum disruption to productivity.
If you'd like Staff Treats to help engage your team, simply get in touch with one of our Engagement Specialists to discuss how to get the most out of your employee benefits scheme in 2019.