When it comes to employee retention a lot is focused on employee pay, and very little attention is given to the benefits package. It is well established that most employees only need to be fairly paid, as opposed to highly – providing they have the right working environment. It is the employee benefits that can play a key role in shaping the workplace environment. After all, you can pay someone a huge amount of money, but if they are working 18 hours every day with no annual leave, how long do you think they will stay with you, regardless of salary and career opportunities?

Annual Leave is a necessity

Let’s start with a basic principle that most employers get very wrong. Working more hours DOES NOT result in increased productivity. Research has shown time and time again that after about 45-50 hours a week there is pretty much no increase in productivity, in fact the very opposite happens, people become significantly less productive. Do you know why? The person is exhausted. It is that simple. So, if you are not looking after your employees and ensuring they are well rested and looked after, they are going to burn out. So, if your employees are working 8 hours a day, plus two hours commute time, there is pretty much no reason to try and get any more out of them – that is their 50 hours. Instead, by ensuring employees are well rested and have sufficient breaks they are likely to perform better. Ideally an employee should have 1 week off every quarter to avoid burnout. Employers that avoid giving anything close to this and just provide the minimum entitled by law should be ashamed of themselves.

Healthy employees are productive employees

It is in a businesses interest to ensure that an employee is healthy. If an employee is in poor health, they are likely to have more time off due to sickness, be more lethargic at work and generally just be less productive. A smart business would ensure that it provides benefits that ensure its employees not only have medical cover for when they are sick, but provide them with the tools to improve their health overall. Gym memberships, free fitness classes at the office, healthy snacks these are not just cool things the likes of Google do for fun, they know that if their employees are fit and healthy, they will perform better.

Include their family

A business should not just be looking after their employees, but they should be looking after their family’s health as well. Let’s assume you have an employee who has a sick child. Do you think your employee is going to be more productive if they do not have to worry about medical bills and healthcare for their child? Do you think their performance could be severely impacted if they have no idea how they can afford treatment for their kid? Is there a strong possibility they have to consider leaving to get more money to try and cover those expenses? All of these every day, very relatable concerns are likely to cause a drop in performance and potentially lead to attrition. So, by ensuring that an employee does not have to worry about their family member wellbeing, they are going to remain focused and productive during times of difficulty.

Provide flexibility

Finally, it is also very important to provide flexibility to employees. Life happens to all of us, so if you take the scenario of an employee having a sick child, provide flexibility during this time. If the employee needs to take annual leave to take their child for a hospital appointment, is the employee going to feel like their employer is a good one? Of course not. By trusting your employees to balance work and home life and still get the job done, you build incredible loyalty from your employees. It should not matter if they did 5 hours work 9-2, went home early, took their child to the hospital for an appointment and then made the time up over the coming days and caught up on work.  What should matter is that the work was still delivered, and the employee was also able to take care of family matter. If you rigidly stick to set hours and force employees to take annual leave for things like doctors’ appointments, you are going to create a culture of resentment. This is what leads to employees sticking to set hours and not doing anything additional, if the employer cannot provide some flexibility when they need it, why should an employee stay late one day because the employer needs it?

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