10 Best Employee Benefits to Give Your UK Team – real examples
Employee benefits are more than just something you're required to offer by the law. They are the secret sauce that can either attract the best talent in your industry or drive them away, keep your team happy or make them leave in droves, and create a thriving company culture or one that feels like a slog to work in.
At Charlie, we pride ourselves in offering quite a few benefits that our team is happy about. In this post, we'll give you a tour of what we offer, along with why we do it, and how to make you understand how to easily give your team the top when it comes to benefits.
Being a startup ourselves, we will share some of our learnings specifically on selecting and implementing the best employee benefits for UK small businesses.
What are Employee Benefits?
Employee benefits are non-cash, non-wage compensations that you can offer to your employees in return for their labour. They can include a range of non-monetary company perks and services that add to your employees' quality of life in addition to their salaries or wages.
There are two main types of employee benefits in the UK: statutory, and discretionary.
- Statutory benefits are the benefits that UK employment law requires you to give your employees, such as employee pension and health insurance.
- Discretionary benefits are additional benefits you can choose to give your employees, things such as gym memberships, free meals, remote working allowances and mental health support.
Why should you try to offer your team the best employee benefits?
Offering your team a good range of benefits is crucial for engagement, retention, and even hiring.
By showcasing a good amount of benefits, you're offering a package that can appeal to your team and make them want to stay at your company. That's, of course, among other things, but at Charlie, we really put an emphasis on how important compensation is for employee happiness and satisfaction.
Having a great selection of employee benefits will ensure you:
- Attract and retain the best talent on the market – as we all know, employees are looking for top benefits before joining a company, especially if they've got an attractive profile. Sometimes it's not just about how much money you can give, but what you can offer on top of that.
- Invest in employee satisfaction and team morale – benefits have a great impact on how team members envision their jobs, and how motivated they feel to do these jobs. If you invest in the best benefits, it's more likely that your employees will stay with you for longer.
- Get yourself a neat competitive advantage on the job market – do you find hiring difficult? Completely normal. After all, the job market is highly competitive, so you need to be one of the top employers, despite small means, to make sure you catch people's attention among all your competitors.
- Put an emphasis on team wellbeing whether it's physical or mental health – by maintaining and supporting your team members through life challenges, you're guaranteed to lessen their need to be absent from work or experience burnout. It's also about putting preventative measures into place rather than extinguishing fires one by one as they arise.
- Make sure you put an emphasis on DE&I – offering a wide range of benefits can ensure you stay attractive to a large range of people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, ability and sexual orientation.
What are the benefits employees care about the most?
According to a Gallagher study from 2023, here's what you should pay attention to when it comes to giving the best benefits to your team:
- Flexible benefits have seen an increase in the last three years and it's expanding
- 52% of firms offer the possibility to opt into private health insurance for their employees
- Life insurance is also becoming increasingly common
- Physical fitness and gym memberships are among the top benefits UK employers choose to give to their team members
That same report also indicates that 85% of organisations are planning on enhancing their benefits package in the future.
How much do employee benefits cost?
The answer is, it really depends. At Charlie, we've had to make do with a lot of financial constraints when it comes to the benefits we offer our team.
As a small team of 40 to 50 people operating out of London, we need to be really smart in the decisions we make when it comes to employee benefits so we don't put our business in jeopardy. And that's probably one of your concerns as well.
A few things we learnt along the way when it comes to the cost of employee benefits:
- Sometimes you can do more with less – a lot of employees are happier when they have flexible hours as well as Fridays off rather than social events
- Think about tax... – some benefits are directly taxed by the government through the PAYE scheme for your employees, so make sure you register your team through that
- ... but don't forget tax-free benefits – some benefits on the other hand can be free of tax, so that may be worth looking into
- Test the waters – don't simply offer one benefit or another because it feels right. Make sure you ask your team what they need through surveys.
- Do your research before committing – don't just settle for one insurance company or one gym, ensure you get different offers for maximum discounts
- Negotiate with providers – there's a lot of room for negotiating when it comes to benefits providers, so make sure you do that on your own terms.
As a rule of thumb, it's better to add 20% to 50% of your team members' salary package towards benefits to make sure it's counted properly.
10 best employee benefits for your UK team
British law spells out the employee benefits that UK businesses are required to provide, but many employees in the UK have come to expect other common benefits as well as these. Including these is not legally mandatory, but they can greatly help you build employee loyalty, trust and satisfaction.
At Charlie, we offer 9 core employee benefits – in our opinion and our team's, these are the best employee benefits you can find on the small business market so read on.
1 – Flexible working hours
This has been one of the cornerstones of employee benefits these last few years and for good reasons, allowing the flexibility people who are parents or carers need – as well as for the rest of your team.
Some examples of flexible working as a benefit include:
- Having core hours, where people commit to be online or at the office for a set time. Let's say for example 11am until 3pm, and then can then choose to work however they want around it.
- Flexible hours, like at Charlie, where people can arrange their day and working hours however they like as long as they attend their meetings
2 – Nine-day fortnights
Wondering what nine-day fortnights are? That's what we have at Charlie – a Friday off every other week for all of our teams.
And we don't forget about our customers and sales team who need to be online: we make sure they have a day off in lieu to make up for it.
Without spending any money, this is a great way to give more time off to your team and is a benefit that allows you to not fully commit to the 4-day work-week if you're not ready for it yet.
It's also been proven to enhance productivity by allowing your team to work less, so maybe test it out!
3 – Learning & Development Budget
Our Work Your Way budget is the amount of money we give each year to our team members so they can spend it on several aspects of their L&D:
- Courses and books
- Home office material
- Anything that we deem related to their working environment and how it could be improved, as well as anything that contributes to their development and learning opportunities
4 – Enhanced Equal Parental Leave
This HR policy is one of our best – regardless of your gender, we allow the same amount of time off when you decide to have a child.
This is also the case if you decide to adopt or foster a child, for example, and gives you ten weeks fully paid, as well as another ten weeks at 50% of your pay.
We believe everyone should be able to enjoy their new parenthood, so we give them equal rights to be off work.
5 – Support for mental health and physical wellbeing
At Charlie, we think mental health and physical well-being go hand in hand, that's why we also allow for days off to be taken depending on the situation:
- 20 days of sick days per year for your mental or physical health
- 4 personal days when you just don't feel up to it and are having an off day
This is all on top of our holiday allowance, but resets every year. We also allocate £30 per team member per month so our team can spend it on whatever they prefer rather than just forcing everyone to have a gym membership they're not going to use.
6 – Progression framework system
Progression is at the heart of what we do, and it should also be highlighted when you talk about the kind of benefits you want to give your team.
At Charlie, there is access to a public career progression framework where all of our team members can understand where their careers will lead them.
On top of this, there are regular chats with managers and clear expectations around what they want to achieve in terms of their careers and how they can contribute to the company.
7 – Nomad working
Nomad working is becoming more and more common. Whilst we have not become fully remote, as we don't believe this is the right course of action for us now, we allow for 90 days of nomad working outside of the UK.
If you're planning to do the same, maybe it's a good idea to have a read of our blog post about nomad working to find out how we did it.
8 – Private health insurance
Recently, we decided to take the leap and offer a benefit our existing team members had been asking for a long time – private health insurance.
Our private health insurance also covers the needs some people might have regarding mental health, but they also allow for GP consultations via video as well as a few other benefits.
9 – Employee perks and discounts
Last but not least, employee discounts can be a great and cheap add-on to your existing list of benefits.
On top of the above, anybody using Charlie’s HR software gets access to our Perks for Work where they can look through thousands of offers and discounts and choose the ones that they like best, from cinema tickets and groceries to flights and car rentals. The employee benefits platform is included in our basic pricing, which makes it a good way for small businesses to offer their people a wide range of sweet perks.
10.Generous holiday allowance
On top of 25 days of paid annual leave, Charlie employees get additional days off around bank holidays and the end of the year like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. That way, our team members can spend that time with their families.
Empower your team with powerful benefits
Employee benefits can go a long way towards attracting and retaining the best talent you can, and the landscape of employment benefits in the UK is diverse and dynamic.
That said, offering the best benefits can be a difficult and complex task, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that are strapped for resources as it is.
Another extra tip? Make sure you put in place the right employee pension scheme for your business.