4 employee benefits that can help build a supportive workplace

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Employee benefits are additional perks given to employees over and above their salary and wages. The benefits are crucial to both the employer and employee. To the employee, the benefits indicate an employer who invests in their future well-being, and it acts as a great motivator to achieving the company’s goals and objectives. To the employer,  the benefits help attract and retain top-tier talent. Attractive benefits also give a company a unique competitive edge that differentiates it from competitors.

Employee benefits vary from company to company depending on the company’s performance, people composition, and the law. Every organization should aim to offer unique benefits that are important to their employees. For example, suppose a majority of employees are Genz and Millenials. In that case, a financial wellness program makes the most sense instead of having a similar program when baby boomers and Gen x  are the majority. For this reason, it is essential to identify strategies that will enable a company to provide benefits that are in the best interest of the company and the employees. Here are four benefits that can help create a supportive environment for your employees.

1. Financial benefits:

In the current tough economy, financial benefits do go a long way in improving employees’ lives. These benefits include:

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a)Bonus: Having compensation in addition to salary for well-performing employees. Most companies prefer to do it at the end of the year, recognizing the excellent performance or extra efforts of employees,

b) Profit-sharing: Offering stocks, bonds, and cash to employees only after making profits.

c) Salary increment: there is an ongoing debate whether salary increment is a right of benefit. I choose to look at it as a benefit because the law does not make it compulsory for employers to review salary upward with every contract renewal. Employes decide to do it at their discretion hence a welcome benefit where good performance is evident at the end of the year or during contract renewal.

d) Commissions: depending on the nature of work and department, commissions happen to be the most sought-after benefits for individuals in sales and marketing. Commission can either be part of the salary or additional income usually calculated as a percentage of the total sales. The higher the commission percentage, the harder the employees work to close deals.

e) Student loan contribution: Ways that employers are achieving this is by having an arrangement where the company pays back the loan debt and the employee agrees to work for the company for an agreed period. Or by having a loan repayment program where the company contributes a certain amount to repay the loan.

f) Pension: a contribution to ensure the employees maintain their living standards even after retirement. Luckily, participation for both employers and employees is compulsory in Kenya.

2. Health benefits: These are the benefits associated with employees and their family’s health. The benefits include;

a)Health insurance: comes in many sizes and packages depending on the need, generation of workers, company’s capabilities. It is advisable to have the most sought after and, if capable, add on other vital packages such as optical, dental, psychological, and fertility on the insurance plans.

b)Wellness program: offering gym membership, mental wellbeing workshop, and experts available for consultation.

c) Injury & Disability insurance; Luckily, in Kenya, we have WIBA, which is compulsory for all employers to be compliant. The insurance policy covers employees ensuring they continue to earn income even when they can no longer work because of an accident, injury, illness, and/or disability that occurs at the workplace.

d)Sick leave: As straightforward as it sounds, giving sick employees paid time off work to address their health needs is a valuable benefit in the eyes of the employer.

Next to excellence is the appreciation of it. – William Makepeace Thackery

3. Work benefits: These are benefits realized, felt, or consumed in the workplace. They include;

a)Learning and development: where employers facilitate skill and knowledge development through ways like training, facilitating for workshops, paying for subscriptions to learning portals, availing learning materials, and latest technology, etc. Learning also directly benefits the company as it ensures they remain competitive.

b)Working hours. Mode and paid leave days:  There has been a spirited campaign for flexible working hours and methods (hybrid) in the recent past. Thanks to the covid pandemic for helping realize this. Flexible working hours increase employees’ productivity with reduced commute time, save them money associated with commute expenses, and improve retention. HR personnel should ensure leave days utilization, so that burnt out and fatigued employees take some time off to replenish their energy levels

c) Employees’ gifts and fun time: All work and no play makes employees very dull. Shake things up every once in a while by organizing some office shindig, team building, and end-of-year party for employees to let loose. Have fun gifts rewarding outstanding employees such as a meal card, bottomless drink, transit allowance, monthly birthday cakes. Get creative with the rewards to make it fun.

4. Lifestyle benefits: The modern employee has lifestyle benefits as a significant area of focus. These are non-salary benefits that improve an employee’s overall lifestyle. They include:

a)Childcare: Most companies are still trying to find a way to facilitate childcare. Below are some areas to consider:

  • Having a clean, well-equipped milk pumping area in the workplace for breastfeeding employees.
  • Having onsite daycare.
  • Paid maternity and paternity leave days.
  • Flexible work schedule enabling employees to drop/pick up the kids to and from school.

b)Travel and experience benefit: For the modern employee, travel opportunities for work are becoming among the most sought-after benefit. Most employees are after the exposure to new cultures, chasing new networks, or stress-relieving through travel. Work travel provides an enriching experience for employees. In return, it enriches the company through standard quality work with a broad perspective.

c)Work-life balance: Employees are increasingly emphasizing a work-life balance to improve productivity at work and improve the quality of their personal life. Every employer should heed this desire and work towards helping employees achieve it.

Employee benefits are many, and it is upon an organization to find a combination that works best for their employees. The benefit programs should be inclusive, accessible, and well communicated to employees. The impact of these benefits will be a happier, motivated, healthier, stress-free, mentally and physically rejuvenated workforce which will translate to a more productive workplace.

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