Business management

The perks staff love

Happy and motivated staff could improve your business’s profits and boost productivity.

We installed a gym for the team

Health and well-being at work are increasingly being taken seriously, and some companies now offer staff free or discounted membership to a local gym. Others – including energy price-comparison specialist Love Energy Savings, and Heat Recruitment, an agency specialising in recruitment for financial services, IT and engineering – have built their own.

“A healthy workforce increases morale, productivity and success,” says Phil Foster, chief executive of Love Energy Savings, “which is why providing an on-site gym for our employees to conveniently exercise in was a perfect solution.”

Foster says the company has enjoyed some great feedback since the gym was fitted in 2016, and that he himself has actually been running PT sessions for staff once a week to help coach them towards their fitness goals.

“We have employees who say the push to start exercising more has been life-changing,” says Foster.

Free massages and a trip to Spain

“I love a good massage, and I once had this perk at a previous company,” says Yousaf Sekander, MD, Bayagan Group, which owns anti-ageing skincare brand Vonza. “I promised myself that if I set up a company I would offer incentives like this.”

Stress, he says, is something that everyone wants to avoid, and Sekander feels that massages are a great stress buster. Staff seem to like the buildup to the massage as much as the experience itself. “They get excited and talk about it for weeks in advance, and that keeps morale high,” he says.

Vonza also offers an all-expenses-paid team holiday to Spain, which Sekander says helps employees feel invested in the company and look forward to coming to work.

“It’s what happens when we get back that shows me how much of a success it is,” he adds. “For months afterwards there are in-jokes, humorous stories and follow-up videos and pictures we post to keep everyone smiling.”

We signed everyone up for Perkbox

A growing number of companies are using employee benefit packages such as Perkbox, which offers staff a variety of special offers and freebies. Jez Ashberry, co-founder of PR, marketing and digital agency Shooting Star, says that Perkbox costs his company £86 per person per year.

“The team seem to really enjoy using it,” he says. “Among the most popular perks are half-price Odeon tickets, free mobile phone insurance and a free Caffe Nero drink every month.

“It’s a great way to invest in our staff and help them to feel good about working here.”

Perkbox is an affordable way for SMEs to dip their toe into the waters of fun incentives, and for many firms – like Shooting Star – it complements additional perks. “We also provide free breakfasts, after-work drinks, free tea, coffee and fruit – and staff get a day off on their birthday,” says Ashberry.

We pay staff £600 to attend any conference anywhere

Take people out of their normal working environment and they come back to the office refreshed, relaxed and more creative, says Harry Metcalfe, founder and MD of Leeds-based dxw digital, which designs and implements digital services for public sector clients. He considers this to be a fantastic return for what he says is a relatively small outlay.

“For example, two people recently attended a technology conference in San Francisco,” he says. “They added on annual leave to travel around the US and came back revitalised and full of new ideas. Someone else pursued their creative passion on a photography course in the South of France, while another came back refreshed after a weekend at the Good Food Show.”

The team seem to really enjoy using [Perkbox]. It’s a great way to invest in our staff and help them to feel good about working here.

Jez Ashberry
Co-founder, Shooting Star

When people return, they’re asked to share their experience internally, which helps to amplify it.

We give employees a Christmas turkey and an Easter hamper

Although workplace culture specialist OC Tanner now has 1,500 employees and 55 offices worldwide, it remains a family-run business, and has made ‘family’ a cornerstone of some of its most popular perks.

“We love to celebrate and create peak moments for our people,” says Robert Ordever, MD of OC Tanner Europe, “and the Christmas and Easter gifts are two good examples.”

As everything comes back to ‘family’, Ordever feels the Christmas bird (there are veggie options too) is less of a turkey and more of a gift from the company to the Christmas table. “If you do something for me, I’m impressed,” he says. “Do something for my family and we have a bond that simply can’t be monetised.”

A healthier team on a shoestring budget

Do you have a 10-man team? Here’s how affordable it can be to invest in their health and well-being:

£50 a week:  “There’s not much healthier than fresh fruit,” says Ceri Henfrey, head of operations at telephone-answering specialists Moneypenny (who actually have 500 staff and whose employees benefit from a whole host of perks). “Staff have a choice from a basket of bananas, apples, oranges and more every day, and it works out at about £1 per person per day, delivered.”

£60 – £120 a week: That’s about what companies typically pay to have a certified yoga teacher come in for an hour a week to do a session with up to 10 employees. Jenny Biggam, co-founder of independent media agency the7stars, offers this to her team alongside mindfulness sessions and other perks.

£300 – £400 a week: For this, you could pay for healthy meals for every member of the team to be delivered daily from new ‘cloud canteen’ Feedr, “the Netflix of food”.

More great perk ideas:

“Pick a letter of the alphabet and take the team to a destination starting with that letter each year – we picked ‘M’ and have been to Malta, Manhattan and Montisi.” – Missive, a PR and Comms agency

“We have a meditation room for staff to visit whenever they need time out.” – Gemini Parking Solutions

“We get £500 for a passion project, free lunch on Wednesdays, a 4.5-day working week and a trip abroad for our annual Christmas party.” – Pumpkin PR

“Our owners take the team to a mixed martial arts dojo each week, where staff and management get to ‘go at each other’, taking out all their stress and frustrations while still being respectful to each other.” – Vaping specialists Code Vape

“One of our most popular perks is VIP airport lounge access for our team and their families.” – Virtual assistant company Time Etc.

“Our team members are offered a weekly date night.” – MyDateNight.com

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