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Perks of the job

Flexible working may be here to stay for some people, but there are a number of other benefits employers can offer to improve staff morale and increase retention rates.

Many workers would be familiar with supplementary employee benefits such as group life assurance, private medical cover, and pension schemes to which the employer makes a contribution.

Lifestyle perks including organised social events or subsidised gym classes have become increasingly popular as team building exercises and opportunities to make employees healthier and therefore less likely to suffer health-related absences.

No universal benefit

However, businesses should recognise that not all employees will appreciate the same benefits and that over an individual’s career the value they place on different perks will change. For example, a younger worker may be more interested in discounted gym membership or social activities, whereas a more mature individual may place greater value on health insurance.

A voluntary programme will allow individuals to receive the benefits they place most value on. This level of choice will increase employee satisfaction as they will feel their specific needs are being considered.

Giving employees a choice on the make-up of their benefits package can serve as a helpful recruitment and retention tool and boost employee engagement. Time-based benefits are often particularly appealing because staff feel like they have more control over their work-life balance.

Giving something back

Corporate social responsibility or CSR is a hot topic among larger organisations, but even the smallest firm can make a positive impact on society through its employees.

Studies have found a direct link between an employee’s positive perceptions of their employer and their participation in volunteer activities – particularly when such activities benefit the local community and are undertaken during regular working hours.

Many companies already partner with charities to raise money through one-off initiatives, so implementing a more structured programme and enabling employees to work for their nominated charity is a good way of generating goodwill.

Letting employees choose the cause to be supported can increase engagement, as does informing them of the impact of their contribution. This can be explained in real terms, such as the number of food parcels bought with money raised from a charity event, for example.

Making it work

Employers should make the benefits review process engaging to ensure employees realise the value of these benefits. The financial data available to users of cloud-based accounting packages such as Big Red Cloud will give the business a sense of how such schemes impact the bottom line.

Benefit schemes might seem like a lot of admin for a small business, but the time taken to manage them and the costs involved should be weighed against the advantages of increased staff satisfaction and engagement with the company.

Young people entering the workplace have grown up with the ability to make choices that are customised to their needs. Employers who are flexible enough to react to the changing way benefits are offered to their staff can expect to see higher levels of employee satisfaction.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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