A boost in post-pandemic early retirement has left the UK employment market extremely tight.
A House of Lords report published late last year found that more than half a million people have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. This has naturally left a lot of employers with some trouble filling jobs.
As an employer myself I know the best way to combat this problem is to offer a great overall experience to employees to attract the best of the best and hang on to them once they join.
And the best way to do this is with a strong benefits package.
Flexibility in workplace and working time
The pandemic showed a lot of people and organisations that working from home wasn’t actually a nightmare. While there are clear benefits to in-person collaboration, it’s also obvious that the pre-pandemic status quo of almost everyone in the office all the time is on the way out. Employees tell survey after survey that they greatly value some remote working – think two or three days a week, or “hybrid working”. This gives your staff the space to really knuckle down with long complicated tasks without the distractions of the office – but doesn’t see them disconnect completely.
Some parents also found the flexibility the pandemic forced on workplaces very useful to fulfil childcare duties. Offering parents the ability to stop working for a few hours in the afternoon so they can look after their children before completing tasks in the evening is a great way to keep them onboard for the long-term.
Smoothing and greening the commute
One of the main reasons UK workers took so readily to working from home was the way it eliminated the cost of the commute. However, there are other ways of making the commute cheaper and greener to reduce that headache.
Salary sacrifice gives you a (free!) way to help your employees into either an electric car or a bike. Employees pay a portion of their pre-tax income for the car lease or bike, meaning savings of up to 60%. It’s the case even if employees do not use their car for commuting.
Electric car schemes can take all the administrative burden and risk away from your company – so if your employee decides to leave in the middle of a leasing period, you aren’t liable for the rest of the contract. That said, employee exits are made less likely with sticky benefits like these – most people who start driving electric cars find it very hard to consider going back – and happier employees stay for longer.
These schemes don’t just help you attract and retain talent. They also clean up your wider company’s carbon footprint, as the work commute is part of the most widely used and internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas measurement tool. If you’re providing a company car park you should really be providing a clean car for your employees to park in it.
Other ways to smooth the commute include public transport vouchers and car-pooling incentives.
Annual leave, charity days, and retreats
The push towards a four-day week and rise in early retirement show many employees are rethinking just how many hours they want to give to their employer. While this might be frustrating for some employers, we all know that a motivated and resourceful employee giving their job 100% for 45 weeks of the year would be more valuable than a less motivated one coming in for 47 weeks – or worse, a vacancy.
By law most full-time employees get 20 days of regular annual leave and eight days of bank holidays off each year. Adding at least another five days of regular annual leave to that balance is a great way to show employees that you value their time and want them to get the rest they need. Some employers are going even further, with extra annual leave, days off on birthdays, and “charity days” where employees can put their energy towards the greater good.
Another idea to let your employees get some relaxation is a company away day. These don’t come cheap, but can be invaluable as a way to let your employees both relax and engage in some blue-sky strategic thinking a long way from the office.
Thom Groot is co-founder and CEO of The Electric Car Scheme