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In our 2019 Salary & Benefits Survey, we discovered that for many training professionals, being happy with their employer relies on more than just salary. A range of factors can influence staff to either remain with their employer or jump ship; this includes management, quality of provision and, increasingly, the salary and benefits package on offer, along with flexibility within the role to ensure a good work/life balance.

Employers are now finding that they have to be increasingly creative with the benefits they offer to both retain and attract new employees - ‘94% of millennials and 92% of Gen X say that non-traditional benefits make an employer more attractive’ according to Raconteur.

Comprehensive benefits packages are no longer exclusive to large employers – we have seen an increase in the number of SMEs offering a wider selection of benefits. Sometimes as an alternative to increasing annual holiday allowance, other incentives can be equally as appealing. Below are some examples of the more creative benefits we’ve seen offered by employers recently:

  • A day off for your birthday
  • A week’s holiday after getting married
  • Government Cycle to Work scheme
  • Gym membership or in-house fitness / yoga/meditation classes
  • Health/dental/life insurance
  • Employee assistance programmes
  • Time off in exchange for charitable work/fundraising or a regular charitable donation scheme
  • Reimbursing professional fees i.e. for memberships
  • Flexible holiday scheme e.g. buying additional holiday days
  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) to pensions
  • Income Protection scheme
  • Benefits plans which offer discounted cinema tickets, restaurant vouchers etc.
  • Company events, including those for employees’ families

Something else to consider if your company regularly has to pay for expenses is a fuel card system, as it can be a quicker and easier system than reimbursing mileage at the end of each month.

Obviously there is a cost involved in increasing your company benefits package, particularly for small to medium-sized training providers who have to deal with a lot of other budget adjustments due to the changes in legislation alongside funding band reductions. However, a good option to consider would be to offer an optional benefits package, which gives the employee some control over what incentives would benefit them personally and prevents the employer from having to pay for a broad array of benefit schemes which may not all be utilised.

Alternative working hours – a different kind of benefit?

Of the candidates we surveyed, 32% are employed part-time. This number doesn’t look set to decrease as here at GPRS Recruitment we have candidates contacting us on an almost daily basis to enquire about part-time roles. This is particularly true of those who have an additional freelance or self-employed role alongside their main employment.

Flexitime is also an attractive option for the increasing number of candidates who want to prioritise their work/life balance, and may make the difference to which employers the most talented candidates are drawn to. 84% of Millennials revealed that they want more work-life balance in a recent study by FlexJobs, suggesting that flexibility with working hours is becoming increasingly popular with the next generation of employees. Particularly as we’re seeing qualifications in certain areas becoming more popular, training staff with the flexibility to work non-standard shifts will prove beneficial to the employer as well as the individual.

But don’t overlook the salary

Of course, benefits packages are only attractive if paired with an adequate salary. Happily, our survey showed that this year salaries in the sector generally increased nationwide, with a quarter of survey respondents receiving a pay rise in the past 12 months.

We see the importance of offering a salary in line with industry expectations on a regular basis – employers who offer salaries lower than those offered by other employers in the same region struggle to attract the same calibre of candidates, and end up using more time and resources training up candidates who haven’t got the same level of experience, or having to replace candidates who aren’t up to the task.

As discussed in our previous blog posts, attracting and retaining the right candidates is becoming increasingly important in the current candidate-driven market. Salary is a key factor, but benefits packages, training and development opportunities and flexible hours all contribute to a candidate’s decision to join a training provider, and all should be kept in mind when recruiting.

Rachel Harrison, GPRS Recruitment

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