Attracting and retaining the best calibre of staff, and then keeping them engaged throughout their tenure is more important than ever, and whilst benefit provision has historically been of significant focus for large businesses, it’s clear to see that smaller organisations are now making this part of their core business strategy.

Of course, big corporates have big budgets, and the glossy benefits and rewards which they provide might be out of reach for many smaller organisations. Thankfully that doesn’t mean employee benefits are a non-starter for SME’s, and there are some very effective ways to engage staff without breaking the bank.

Below we have listed our top five benefits which can be implemented at a comparatively small amount, but still offer a fantastic return on investment.

1. Employee Assistance Programme

Shortened to EAP, an Employee Assistance Programme can be thought of as a “Citizens Advice Bureau” for employees. Its main aim is to provide confidential, independent, impartial and unbiased guidance to employees who could be suffering in a range of areas including Health & Lifestyle, Legal, Work Life and Home Life.

With a 24/7 helpline and up to 8 sessions of face-to-face counselling included, employers can feel assured that they are not only satisfying their Health & Safely obligations, but also supporting employees who might otherwise not have a sounding board or advice outlet available to them.

Some of the key areas that employees utilise an EAP are as follows;

  • Mental Health
  • Eldercare
  • Addiction
  • Terminal illness
  • Debt problems
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Stress
  • Identity & LGBTQ
  • Domestic abuse
  • Bereavement

Finally, due to the rich Management Information available to employers in terms of how the EAP is being used, this can assist in identifying underlying risks in the organisation which mightn’t otherwise have been obvious.

Costs

Standalone EAP’s can cost as little as £500 + VAT per annum for up to 50 employees.

2. Health Cash Plan

A mechanism to provide cover for the every-day healthcare costs which employees might face, Health Cash Plans are more popular today than they’ve ever been.

Full Private Medical Insurance, whilst excellent, is comparatively expensive to provide, and for those with a limited budget, may be a non-starter.  Health Cash Plans on the other hand are not only available for a fraction of the cost, but are arguably more valued by employees, due to the fact that the benefits can be extracted and enjoyed on a more frequent basis.

In practical terms, a Health Cash Plan allows employees to claim back money spent in a number of health-related areas, the following of which tend to be the most common;

  • Routine dental treatment such as check-up’s, scale and polish, fillings
  • Routine optical care such as glasses and contact lenses
  • Physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy
  • Chiropody, podiatry and homeopathy
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
  • Health screening, massage and flu jabs
  • Virtual GP

It is also typical for employees’ children to be included for free (up to 50% of employee limits) under the plan, and for individuals to have flexibility to add their partners and upgrade cover on a voluntary basis.

Costs

Health Cash Plans can cost as little as £1.00 per employee, per week.

3. Volunteering

Employees of all ages, but particularly the younger generations now entering the workplace, are finding it increasingly important for their employer to play an active role in supporting the local community. 

More and more employers are using this route to enhance their Employer Value Proposition (EVP), in addition to the traditional benefits which companies offer.

A great way to embrace this growing requirement is implementing a volunteering benefit which is both free to roll-out and can supplement any existing corporate social responsibility or charity focus already in place.

If you are considering putting this in place, here are some top tips to consider;

  • Set a dedicated person to manage this benefit, record days used and manage some of the below considerations.
  • Set a fixed amount of days per year which can be used, either in one go or throughout the year (Between 1 and 5 days is a common offering)
  • Consider which charities you want to support via this benefit;
    • Do you want one charity that your business wants to support with a key project that they have?
    • Consider providing a panel of pre-vetted local charities or good causes which you would like to direct employees towards.
    • Do you want to let your employees choose their own charities that are important to them? If so you should require prior submission for you to vet the charity.
  •  Employees should be required to give between one week and a month’s notice before their volunteering day in order to give you time to plan for their absence.
  • You should ensure that any charity that you are supporting has the appropriate insurances in place should your employee injure themselves while on their premises.

Costs

Free

4. Group Life cover

Sometimes referred to a Group Death in Service, this benefit is designed to ensure that, in the event of an employee passing away, a tax free payment will be made to their dependants/beneficiaries, whether that is a parent, partner or child/children.

Interestingly, employers considering this benefit often ask if the term “death in service” means that the employee must physically be undertaking their employed role when they die.  This is not the case, and the benefit is payable as long as the employee is in active service.

Employers typically structure the benefit to provide either 2x or 4x the employee’s salary upon death, and it’s also possible to have different levels of benefit depending on seniority or grade.

Each employee completes an “Expression of Wish” form upon joining which outlines who payment should be made to in the event of their death.  The form also allows for multiple beneficiaries to be recorded, allowing the employee to specify how any benefit should be divided.

The other great feature of this type of cover is that in most cases, employees do not have to complete medical underwriting, unlike individual protection.

With so few people taking financial advice and setting up their own personal Life Assurance provision, this kind of scheme is an excellent way of demonstrating to employees that you have their families’ interests at heart if the worst was to happen.

Costs

Annual salary roll of £500,000 and 10-15 staff – as little as £700.00 in total per annum*

Annual salary roll of £1,000,000 and 25-35 staff – as little as £1,100.00 in total per annum*

*premiums based on 2x salary, average employee age of 40, schemes new to market, no long-term absentees and using a combination or Engage Health Group existing client data, insurer quote portals and market statistics.

5. A small Group Risk Protection policy for your exec team can provide FREE Counselling, Second Opinion Service, Treatment Sourcing and Retail Perks Platforms for ALL employees.

Did you know that if you purchase a Group Risk product (Group Life, Group Income Protection or Group Critical Illness) for a minimal number of staff, some insurers will allow you to extend a whole range of additional benefits to your entire workforce, completely free of charge?

Providing Group Risk benefits to just two Directors, for example, could enable you to extend the additional value to hundreds of other staff!

Group Life, Income Protection and Critical Illness are a fantastic way to cover your people in the event of death and illness respectively but the key benefit we want to highlight here is the value which immediately becomes available to all staff NOT insured under the Group Risk protection plan. 

These can include;

Counselling Services

  • Confidential counselling
  • 24/7 telephone helpline
  • Up to 10 Face-to-face sessions with a psychologist
  • Putting employees in touch with support groups in their area
  • Financial and legal telephone services from an independent consultant
  • Guidance on a range of everyday issues such as debt, buying a home, tax and divorce
  • All delivered via easy to use apps
  • Access to service from anywhere
  • Wellbeing articles brimming with articles and podcasts
  • Meaningful Management Information to show usage and identify trends

Second Opinion Service

  • Provided by leading services such as Best Doctors
  • For any employee who has been diagnosed with a medical condition (private or NHS)
  • Locates world-leading experts for the condition
  • Arranges full review of employee medical condition
  • Employees received full diagnosis, a comprehensive report and recommendations for treatment plan
  • Health questions answered by an expert
  • Access via phone and online portal
  • Extensive library of wellbeing tools, videos and literature
  • Medical and travel arrangements made if employee chooses treatment outside of the UK

Treatment sourcing

  • For those without private healthcare but wanting to source private treatment
  • Competitive treatment costs as opposed to following retail route
  • Access to over 20,000 consultants around the UK
  • Treatment sourcing deal with 450 private hospitals and NHS private patient units
  • Fast and efficient booking process to facilitate quick consultations, tests and procedures

Perks

  • 1000 + perks via app
  • Cinema discounts
  • Retails discounts
  • Restaurant discounts

Costs

A Group Risk scheme for two Directors could cost as little as £500.00 per annum, and allow you to extend the above services free of charge to hundreds of staff.