Health and lifestyle benefits to keep your SME business working well

August 9, 2022

At a time when many people are reported to be thinking about changing their employment, competitive employee benefits can help you to stand out as an employer of choice.

We know that job seekers no longer look at salary alone when considering their next steps. So what is it that candidates really want?

Largely driven by the pandemic, flexibility is top of the list. Achieving work-life balance, whether through working location or flexible hours, is an eagerly sought-after perk; especially for those with other commitments, like working parents or carers.

For employees, flexible working can alleviate some of the pressures of life and reduce stress. For employers, it can result in better workplace well-being and a more focused and productive team.

If you’re looking to increase your offering to attract and retain top talent, employee benefits that put health and well-being first are a good place to start.

Good health benefits everyone

In the now post-pandemic era, the importance of good health and well-being is more apparent than ever, for individuals and organisations.

An estimated 149.3 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury last year. This costs employers hundreds of pounds per employee.

Health and well-being benefits are not just good for attracting new people to your business, but for keeping your current employees feeling and working well, too.

Understandably, you may be wondering how you can compete with larger organisations to offer a competitive benefits package. Aside from having the edge by offering a candidate the unique SME experience, there are many variations of health and well-being benefits that you could consider.

Encouraging better employee health

What counts as a health benefit?

The obvious one is private medical insurance, which can provide access to speedier diagnosis and treatment for medical conditions, but this may not be in the budget. There are other affordable lifestyle benefits, though, that can also contribute to good health in the long term.

For example, a health cash plan can be a good alternative to health insurance. It offers money back on routine healthcare services like optical, dental or physiotherapy.

As previously mentioned, flexible working is a desirable perk that can promote positive well-being. It’s also a cost-effective way of doing so.

Consider also the Cycle to Work scheme. Do you know how your employees are getting to work? Recent rail strikes have caused mass upheaval for commuters, worsening what can already be a difficult journey for some people.

The Cycle to Work scheme can keep employees active. It makes bike hire accessible through a pre-tax salary sacrifice. Alternative options include employer loans or a workplace pool cycle model.

Employees must not “own” the bike and at least 50% of use must be for a qualifying journey – such as commuting. If you’re considering offering this to employees, it must be made available to all and it’s worth also thinking about the practicalities like secure bike storage and safe cycle routes to work.

Discounted gym memberships can also encourage employees to maintain an active lifestyle and help with keeping personal expenses low.

In addition to encouraging good physical health, sometimes a simple conversation can work wonders. This is why an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) is also worth considering when looking at health and well-being benefits for staff. It’s a practical solution which provides access to counsellors qualified to advise on a wide range of issues.

Support when you need it

If you are managing a team, you too may need support in running your business. If you would like to discuss employee benefits or would like a helping hand with your HR and people management, we are only a phone call away.

Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce