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Employee perks: scaling back or getting bigger?

It is surprising to learn just how many companies still spoil their employees with generous perks

In the wake of corporate giant John Lewis declaring last week that it will be scaling back some of its employee benefits, however, it seems that for some these perks could be petering out.

Cafe Nero, Dropbox and Zizzi are all cutting back. From free lunches to laundry services and even open invitations to the office bar for friends of their workforce, the estimated cost of perks for each Dropbox employee is in excess of £17,000!

Now that the national minimum wage has risen, these companies claim that they simply cannot afford to offer such generous perks to their staff. In some cases, their generous employee packages were not even being used, which led to company losses. Instead of free lunches, a member of staff gets a discount. While this is not a freebie, it still appears to be pretty generous.

Not according to some recruitment experts, who suggest that companies should be selling themselves through their employee benefit scheme to attract a great workforce. They also recommend that companies update and evolve their packages to meet the ever-changing needs of their employees. In their view, the perks on offer to prospective employees can be just as important as their salary.

It appears that plenty of firms agree with these sentiments, with some offering their workforce free holidays, scholarships, massages, and even cash lump sums on arrival. One company renowned for this is software company Huddle, which thinks nothing of offering its new starters a welcome gift of £5,000 – affectionately known as a ‘Huddle cuddle’.

Workplace health initiatives are still hugely popular as companies strive to keep their staff fit and healthy. From office NutriBullets to on-site doctors and even a ‘wellness allowance’ available to all employees, keeping their staff in good shape is a top priority for hundreds of companies. This form of ‘mutual benefit’ also extends to working holidays whereby employees might be granted an all-expenses paid trip to one of their firm’s overseas offices – the perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure.

With many employees expressing concern over caring for elderly relatives while working, it appears that another perk set to hit the industry could be financial aid and flexible working to help ease this burden.

Despite some companies scaling back their perks, it appears that others are still taking very good care of their staff. One thing is for sure, ‘away days’ and early Friday finishes are no longer cutting it when it comes to employee benefits. To attract and retain a good workforce, it seems that major companies are going to have to continue their generosity for a long time to come.

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