What perks and benefits do your people actually want?

A new survey discovers what perks employees want versus what employers are offering. The results show some alignment, some surprising mismatches - and that cost doesn't necessarily mean value.

Image of office football table bikes and free hot drinks
Employee-experience platform Perkbox partnered with talent matching platform TalentPool to share data-driven insights into employees’ most desired perks and those advertised in job descriptions.Headline findings from the partnership’s sample of 2,315 demographically diverse working Britons and 8,716 job descriptions suggests when it comes to perks, “employers and employees are to a great extent on the same wavelength.”

What are the top job perks?

Employees' top four perks are all linked to creating places to share interests and grow social connections.Relatively low-cost, but delivering high engagement value, extra-curricular clubs ranked first (eg arts and crafts, book clubs). These were followed by access to office pool and table tennis tables (2) and office sports teams (3).For employers - whose priorities are often slightly different to their employees’ - activities like these were the fourth most-listed perk in job descriptions, behind free tea and coffee (1), training (2) and free healthcare (3). Free tea and coffee, another simple perk to provide, was mentioned in 47% of the job descriptions analysed and appreciated by a huge 84% of the employees surveyed.

Bringing benefits into line with social shifts

However, when it comes to social evening drinks as opposed to shared social activities, Friday post-work gatherings featured at a lowly 38th place for employees.Yet, employers advertised this as a sought-after perk in 958 (41%) of the job descriptions studied.The finding coincides with data suggesting Millennials drink less alcohol than previous generations socially. After-work events are also increasingly regarded as counter to the culture of inclusiveness many companies are trying to create, particularly in recognition of people's competing commitments outside of work.Together the findings suggest employers might do better at attracting, recruiting and retaining staff with sports- or interest-based social activities instead of those that are pub-based.Perhaps because of their relative novelty, other more millennial-driven perks, such as yoga and nap pods, ranked nearer to the bottom of the list for both employees and employers in this research.

What should employers do to make sure they are offering the right perks?

Tom Davenport, managing director at TalentPool says: “Companies today are working harder than ever before to stand out from the crowd by offering their employees the incentives that they think they want. However, what this research reveals is that they're not quite hitting the mark yet."Employers need to be listening to what their prospective and current employees actually want. For millennials, in particular, the perks a company offers can determine whether or not they apply for their job, so it's key for employers to be getting this right.”When it comes to flexible working, however, employers and employees seem to be on the same page.Flexible working ranked in comparable positions across both employer job specifications and employee preferences. It ranks eleventh in the list of perks employees want and eighth as the most listed benefit in job descriptions. Employers looking to show they value their employees' time outside of work could also do well specifically to offer birthdays as holiday, which was the sixth most sought-after perk according to the study. 

Does expensive mean valued when it comes to employer benefits and rewards?

This consistency in employer-employee preferences wasn’t visible throughout the entire findings. The differences in employer and employee priorities are most clear when it comes to private healthcare. This was highly promoted by employers, but ranked just fifteenth in the list of top employee preferences.Chieu Cao, co-founder of Perkbox commented: “It’s promising to see employees and employers on the same wavelength for a significant number of perks. However, it is also clear that there is more work to be done.“With the key to a successful perks and benefits programme being communicating and asking your employees what they would really value in the workplace, these results are very interesting and relevant to employers everywhere. After all, it’s a waste of both time and resources to provide perks that won’t be utilised or appreciated by your staff.”

Top 10 perks for employees versus those advertised most by employers

1. Extracurricular clubs1. Free tea and coffee
2. Pool table2. Training
3. Table-tennis table3. Private healthcare
4. Office sports team4. Social events
5. Video games5. Bonus
6. Birth-o-holiday6. Free/subsided gym membership
7. Discounts on holidays, flights and hotels7. Team lunch
8. Discounts at supermarkets8. Flexible working
9. Free coffee and hot drinks9. Friday drinks
10. Discounts on restaurants and takeaways10. Cycle to work scheme

Read more about engagement and reward in coverage of the Festival of Global People in the summer issue of Relocate Global - out this month.

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