As the UK and US economies sneak back into recovery, employers are looking for more intuitive and resourceful methods to reward their staff. Employee benefits have often been a useful source of non-cash rewards and serve well in times of economic uncertainty. In particular the public sector in the UK has been hit hard with cuts and organisations such as the police force have been asked to cut down on over-time pay as one of the ways to reduce the deficit on the treasury.
In order for organisations in both the public and private sectors to keep momentum during a downturn, there also has to be a certain amount of leverage from employees when it comes to benefits. This includes being realistic on the subject of rewards and realising that the world is changing its attitude and view on issues with regards to money saving, especially after the early 2008 banking crisis which caused so many job losses throughout the world.
In general, the focus for businesses seems to be switching from annual cash bonuses to non-cash benefits such as gift vouchers, which incidentally can be a hefty money saving exercise in itself when buying in bulk. When the purse strings are tight, offering vouchers are a viable alternative as they have a broad appeal and the best ones can be used in a multitude of stores, restaurants or leisure attractions.
Other non-value benefits are also popular with employers in the UK, in a survey conducted by HR Magazine, 62% of companies surveyed in 2010 stated they were using flexible working as a benefit and a method of engaging employees. Other popular engagement techniques in the same survey included working from home and offering extra annual leave. When asked about cost reduction strategies, the majority of companies had chosen to adopt a pay freeze or a recruitment freeze throughout 2010.
Whatever the outcome, it is clear that both employers and employees will have to adapt to meet both of their needs; however it seems unsure how long this will last for as the economy and job market gathers pace.