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Employee Benefits - What are the options?

You’ve already worked out your budget and individual employee costs, so now you just need to figure out what you’re going to do with all that money

If you've read our article on deciding on a benefits budget (Are Employee Benefits An Expense?), the next step on the journey to becoming a benefits boss is working out what you're going to do for/give to your employees so they can actually feel those benefits. There's loads of options out there from the simple (cash) to the complex (pensions), but we're going to help you try and work out what might be best for your company by running through some of the options.


4 £20 notes

We tried to find an interesting picture of money, but it's pretty bland

If you’re going to give it to your staff as cash, great. It’s easy, straightforward, but in no way guarantees that your staff will spend it on what you might hope. You might envisage a nice dinner between your staff member and their other half, but likely as not a cash gift is going to go straight into a household bill, grocery shop or into a car’s fuel tank, so bear that in mind when choosing cash. Not much more to say about it, other than to think about the tax your colleagues will have to pay on any cash bonuses and benefits.

Vouchers, Gift Cards and Experiences

Some People on a Thames Rocket Ride

It's not a gift card, but you could get it with one...

If you’ve a specific reward in mind, then vouchers or gift cards are the way to go. A lot of restaurants now offer gift cards and gift certificates, as do many high street stores. Some of them can even offer a discount when bought in bulk, so for example £2,915 of staff benefit money might actually net you £3,060 of gift cards (5% extra), so shop around to get the best for your colleagues! Just make sure you choose a national chain if your staff aren’t all local, otherwise someone’s going to feel left out.

There are also vouchers and gift cards that cover several bases, such as Leisure Vouchers (shameless plug), which are valid at nationwide restaurants, hotel chains, entertainment venues and more. These sorts of vouchers are ideal if you want to give your employees a choice of locations as well as benefit types, so the outdoors-lover can get a new bike while the pizza-lover can grab dinner less than 5 miles from home, and the family-oriented can take the kids out for a day at the zoo.

There’s also the experiential side of things, which is ever-growing in popularity among UK consumers (which we can only assume includes a bunch of employees). If you think your staff might like a white-water rafting trip or 5* Michelin meal, these experiences are the way to go, but bear in mind that not every member of staff might want the same thing so you’ll need a way to keep it variable. Like some kind of experience gift card or something…


man on a bicycle in green mountains

There's exercisey mountains around every corner

Don’t forget the value of wellbeing benefits too – subsidised private healthcare, gym memberships and exercise-related stuff is also rising in popularity in the working world2. These bring with them some elements of complexity, but there are hundreds of agencies out there who can help you out with it if you don't want to take it all on yourself. With private healthcare, think about the cost versus the benefits - is it something your staff actually want, or is the local NHS enough for your staff's needs? With gym memberships, it's probably easiest to look at which gyms are near to you and if they offer discounted rates for corporate clients (a lot of people who gym go before or after work rather than the weekend, so proximity to the workplace helps). If they don't offer anything, try the gym company that has the most sites near you - Hussle has a site finder you could use to narrow your search.

We couldn't mention exercise-related stuff without mentioning cycle-to-work schemes, where you pay for an employees bike up front and they pay it back in instalments. There's a high-ish up-front cost, but by the end you've made your money back and your employee has a snazzy new bike and you to thank. There's a couple of different providers that will help you set up the scheme, but you can also do it through local bike merchants, so long as they allow hire purchasing. There's a couple of caveats though: the bike has to be used for 50% 'qualifying journeys', like biking to work; the employee doesn't own the bike until they've paid it off, and; this scheme has to be offered to the whole workforce, not just a subsection. So no bikes for the sales team unless customer service and admin get the chance to have one too!

Making a choice

We've made a handy chart to help you choose a benefit that's right for your staff. It's pretty simplistic and doesn't go into the wellbeing stuff above, but you know your staff best so you'd know if any of the above are right for you. For everything else, there's this:

Choosing an employee benefit

If you want to be sure the entire business will like what you’ve chosen, set up a diverse focus group of colleagues and ask them, but be sure to swear them to secrecy so there’s no spoiling the surprise when the benefit announcement comes around. Alternatively, you can send around a survey to this focus group, which you can do really easily these days with Google Forms.

What next?

Four white men in a hipster meeting room

"We've got benefits here, here and here. But the staff are there, there and there. What are we gonna do?"

You've chosen your benefit and you know how much it's going to cost - now you need to work out how you're going to get it to them! We'll cover that in a later post, but if you've got your own ideas then you're free to steam ahead.

If you'd like to get some benefits help in the meantime, feel free to get in contact on 0844 272 0002 or email us at and we'd be happy to lend a hand and help you pick your preferred benefits!

Header image by:

unsplash-logoNathan Dumlao

Other images by:

unsplash-logoColin Watts

unsplash-logoPaul Green

unsplash-logoAustin Distel

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