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This year’s Reward Gateway Summit showcased the latest perspectives on employee benefits from today’s leading HR minds and engagement experts.

If you missed it, don’t worry! I’ve put my former journalist hat on to bring you some of the best emerging trends from one of our panel sessions – ‘Evolving Your Benefits Offer to Stay Current and Show You’re Listening’ – which featured insights from two different industry leaders: Eve Sleep and People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

From getting creative with benefits communication to spanning the entire employee life cycle, the session was packed with tips on how to leverage your existing offering for maximum impact.

It was an honour to host this panel and hear all the wonderful ways these HR professionals and their teams are supporting their people in these challenging times. We know the cost of living crisis is weighing heavily on everyone right now, so this was a great opportunity to understand how companies are supporting their people and standing out as an employer of choice. Now let’s take a closer look at the themes that emerged from our conversations: 

1. Time is money

time-is-moneyBenefits that offer time back to employees in one way or another are proving incredibly popular at the moment. Holiday Trading is an initiative that all of the companies on the panel had introduced, allowing eligible employees to trade in holiday allowance for cash or exchange cash for extra days of holiday. 

PDSA has introduced a Wellbeing Day, where staff are given an extra day of leave to do something they feel is important to their own individual health and mental wellbeing. Eve Sleep also wanted to give staff more control over their own time by rolling out ‘Pick n Mix Bank Holidays’, so that people can choose when to take these allocated days throughout the year.

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2. Spanning the employee lifecycle is key

planning aheadCompanies often begin their approach to employee benefits by introducing initiatives that cater more towards families, either through the type of retailers on offer for employee discounts or things like salary advance and parental support loans.

This is fine, of course, but it may not engage a wide employee demographic. By planning out a wider range of initiatives that suit different tastes and age ranges, you not only give your current employees more options, you also stand a better chance of attracting the type of talent you want to recruit for years to come. Promoting initiatives at key points in the employee journey is a smart move. The employee onboarding stage is a great opportunity to discuss your wider Employee Value Proposition and ensure that employees know exactly what value is available to them from day one.

“We’ve looked at the whole employee lifespan and worked a lot with our employee networks to make them a bit more diverse,” says Catrin Lewis at Reward Gateway. “We want to build on talent attraction so we started looking at the gaps to decide where we were lacking. It's also about encompassing the whole employee experience in a digital space where the office wasn't available.”

3. Branding makes a big difference

If employees are to fully engage with the benefits package available to them, they need to feel like it belongs to them. The very best businesses take time to personalise their benefits platform so it reflects their wider brand and speaks directly to their people.

Fetch, for example, is perfectly in line with the PDSA brand and helps the platform appeal to the people working for the charity. Eve Sleep decided to integrate their brand’s bold yellow colour throughout the platform, making it feel immediately familiar to anyone logging on for the first time as an extension of its employer brand. They even created a section called ‘Yellow Pages’ to house essential information, FAQs and files that an employee might be searching for.

Eve Sleep platform mockup

4. Getting creative

lightbulb creativity

At a time when businesses are trying to get everything they can from their budget, it really pays to think creatively and come up with interesting, cost-effective initiatives that stand out from the crowd. 

Eve Sleep did this by introducing ‘Work From Anywhere’ for four weeks of the year. This encouraged staff to take a working holiday and gave the company extra ammo for their social media feed when employees sent in their snaps and videos from abroad.

Ideas like this really help to showcase the company’s employer brand to the world and potential recruits.

Benefits offerings should evolve over time, and there are always new opportunities and avenues to engage employees beyond their monthly salary. When things start to feel stagnant or not garnering as much attention as before, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing and see what fresh initiatives could make a difference.

One final tip…

“My top employee benefits tip for businesses today is to try to build a good relationship with your CEO and help them understand your benefits strategy. I speak regularly with our CEO, Doug, to equip him with information so that he’s then able to relay key details in his communication with other managers, staff and internal stakeholders."

“He also keeps me updated on the overall business strategy so I can think of the right benefits to support our collective vision for the company. For instance, diversity and inclusion has been a big piece for us recently, so we need to think about initiatives to enable that and make sure our benefits strategy and wider business strategy are perfectly aligned.” -Catrin Lewis, Head of Global Internal Communications and Engagement, Reward Gateway

Summit Digital Experience

Want more valuable insights from this year’s Reward Gateway Summit? Head over to our Summit Digital Experience for a deeper dive into all the action!

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Charlotte Neal

Charlotte Neal is the Head of Community Connections at Reward Gateway and loves connecting reward and HR professionals to new ways to engage their teams. As a former journalist, she's most proud of her award from the RSPCA on a story about foster dogs finding their new homes, especially because it meant she got to spend her weeks following puppies!

Head of Community Connections

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