Employee benefits – a vital tool in the war for talent 

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The war for talent has grown ever more intense in recent months as rising employee expectations and talent shortages are putting companies to the test.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted an unprecedented re-evaluation of work by both employers and employees as home or hybrid working created new expectations. Rising inflation has added a further challenge as prospective employees want to earn more to meet their rising cost of living, while businesses often have less pay flexibility as their own costs, from materials to energy, are rising at a dizzying rate.

Businesses across the UK are struggling to attract the right employees and the challenge is clear to see in the recruitment data. On May 5, 2022, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation reported that advertised job vacancies in the UK reached 1.81 million in the last week of April, a 7% rise on the previous week.

Businesses across the country are struggling to attract the right candidates for their business. But if your business is facing this challenge, the fact that everyone is in the same boat is likely to be small comfort.

Winning the recruitment war in the current social and economic circumstances requires a sophisticated solution, creative thinking and, sometimes, professional advice.

With finances squeezed, businesses must think about their recruitment offer in the round. Money matters, but it is not everything, and one positive aspect of the pandemic’s effect on employment is to have made people think about their working lives in a more holistic way. Work-life balance, company culture and non-cash benefits are increasingly important factors.

Get a bigger bang from your benefits buck

For businesses facing a recruitment challenge the key question is: who are the people you want to attract? Of course, this means what skills you are looking for, but it also means thinking about the type of people in your business. What things matter to them and what are the benefits you can offer that will have the strongest appeal?

If you have lost valued people recently, why did they leave? Was it just about money? Or were there other factors such as the culture of the business, whether they felt valued as a person, or were they lured away by the promise of attractive benefits from another employer?

Non-cash benefits can play a significant role in recruiting and retaining staff. These are part of the culture of your business and are a powerful signal to employees and potential employees that your company thinks of them as people, not just a payslip. Simply ensuring that an employee feels their contribution is valued can make the difference between them staying with your company or moving.

Some non-cash benefits have a clear appeal. With the NHS under stress, thanks to the Covid backlog, many employees will place a high value on some form of private health provision, enabling them to receive faster or more convenient treatment.

Too many employers think the cost of providing benefits is prohibitively high, but some benefits are relatively low-cost while having a high impact on employee morale and loyalty. Dental or optical care is often highly valued by employees as is free travel insurance, and all of these are less expensive to provide than you might think.

Promoting your full package

Communication is a vital element in the war for talent. Having the right culture and benefits in place is the first step, but these need to be presented with clarity and in a way that maximises their perceived value. Companies that already offer non-cash benefits can also improve retention of their valued talent with a refreshed communication drive, reminding employees of the full value of the benefits available to them over and above their pay packet.

At Mercer Marsh Benefits, we work with businesses to deliver the most cost-effective benefits package suited to their employees. Designed with professional advice and expertise, the right benefits package can deliver a valuable edge in the talent war.

Businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and acquire the talent they need at the right price. But salary is not always the best solution. Thinking about the ‘full package’ you can offer employees can give you a crucial edge when you are trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Rachel Riley

Partner and Commercial Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits

Rachel Riley
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