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Five ways to make employee benefits work for you
According to research conducted by PageGroup only a quarter (27%) of UK adults take advantage of all the benefits available to them. When we talk about ‘employee worth’ we are more often than not focussing on salary and salary alone. But are we underestimating the hidden value of employee benefits and if so how can we make the most of the benefits on offer? Follow this five step guide to making employee benefits work for you.
1. Evaluate your current situation
It is vital to understand your current situation, professionally, personally and financially. That way you can establish what your priorities are in those three areas and set a benchmark as to what you would like to get from your working life. This will also allow you to evaluate those benefits that will most closely align with your lifestyle and offer the most value to you personally. Think about some of the following questions:
Professionally – Where are you in your career? Are you learning your trade or are you in a position to pass you knowledge on to others? Do you have your eyes on a managerial role or are you thinking about a change of direction?
Personally – How is your work/life balance? Do you need more time to spend with your family or are you missing out on a vibrant social life?
Financially - Are you struggling with an expensive commute? Are you spending too much on lunch each week? Do you want to make a larger pension contribution or are you saving to buy a new home?
2. Understand the true value of benefits
On the surface, a 5% annual bonus may sound like the biggest financial win in your overall package. However if you dig deeper it may be the case that remote-working one day a week will save you more money in the long run by cutting down the amount you spend commuting to work. Bonuses are likely to be subject to taxation so the amount stated in your bonus and the amount which reaches your wallet will be significantly different while the potential savings of a season ticket loan may be more than you expect.
With the cost of commuting rising every year would a season ticket loan relieve the financial pressure you are under? A recent study has shown that rail fares cost commuters up to 16% of their income, and with prices increasing any way to reduce this outlay will be worth serious consideration. It’s important to think about how each benefit will impact your personal situation, different benefits will prove more valuable to different people.
3. Establish your priorities
Once you have a grasp on your current situation and the value that benefits can potentially add to you and your family you can begin to establish what your priorities are. Everyone is different and will have different outlooks on their lives and careers and as such will find more value on different types of benefits.
If you are looking to advance your career then turn your focus towards benefits such as subsidised professional training or coaching/mentoring programmes. If you would like a better work/life balance or more family time then dynamic working programmes or remote working can offer that. Is your commute too expensive? Cycle to work schemes and interest free season ticket loans can dramatically reduce costs. Whatever your professional, personal and financial priorities are there will be benefits that can help you along the way.
4. Review and explore your options
Start by speaking to your Human Resources department; they should be able to provide you with all the information you need about your companies benefits offering and how you can access it. Two thirds (65%) of people we surveyed have been surprised to find out about a particular benefits after working in a role for some time.
Many companies offer flexible benefits, larger pension contribution, optional dental plans, cycle to work schemes and many more. There may be things that you are not making the most of or others that you are not using at all. The option to choose your benefits package based on your situation and priorities can afford you the opportunity to take much greater control of your working life.
5. Use your benefits
The final, and most important step in getting the most value out of your benefits is to actually make use of them. Many people do not have a full picture of the benefits on offer to them and many more simply do not bother to use them. Now that you have assessed your situation, defined your priorities and explored the benefits available to you it’s time to start reaping the rewards.
According to our research only a quarter (27%) of UK adults take advantage of all the benefits available to them. There were a number of reasons given, such as some benefits not being relevant or people simply feeling that they do not need them. Whatever the reason, this still leaves three quarters of us not utilising the benefits on offer.
Whether its training resources, store discounts, childcare vouchers or dynamic working arrangements there is little point in having access to employee benefits if you do not actually use them!
Employee benefits are designed to make our lives easier, improve our work/life balance, save us money and safeguard our wellbeing. Looking beyond our basic pay packet and delving a little deeper can unveil the true value that lies in making benefits work for you.