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The Most Effective Employee Benefits for Irish Companies

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Employees are unlikely to leave a company because they don't offer unlimited holidays, but if they were interviewing for new roles and were offered a full suite of attractive benefits it could sway them.

With Ireland at proximity to full employment employers are facing new recruitment and retention challenges. Benefits, such as pension plans and healthcare schemes, have been used since the beginning of the industrial revolution to attract and keep employees.

Traditional benefits are still impactful, but over the past number of years, there's been a new wave of enticing benefits being used to attract the very best talent. According to a study by SHRM:

  • Employee benefits now make up about one-third of compensation costs

  • 92% of employees state benefits impact their job satisfaction

  • 32% of employees were unlikely to look for a new role if they were happy with the benefits provided

With this in mind, and using information from Cpl's Employment Monitor, these are some of the top benefits companies in Ireland are offering, and that attract and retain employees,

Continuous learning opportunities

CPD, or continuing professional development, is now the norm in most jobs. Continuous learning, whether formal or informal, is vital to keep employees up to date in an ever-evolving world of work and offers long term benefits to employee and employer.

However, Ireland's lifelong learning rate is less than half the benchmark set by the EU. To minimise employment gaps and future proof our people's careers, it's important to put an emphasis on improving our commitment to continuous education.

Potential learning opportunities include:

  • Professional memberships

  • In-house or external online courses

  • Mentor programs

  • Formal further education support

These benefits differ from company to company and often larger supports are only offered to those in a company for a certain period of time.

By providing comprehensive training and mentoring you'll prepare your business for the future of work, attract employees who are eager to improve and keep your best employees by providing them with challenges and the potential to grow.

Unlimited annual leave

Still more common in the USA, unlimited annual leave has begun to trickle into Ireland. As the name suggests unlimited annual leave offers employees uncapped holiday days. For employees, unlimited annual leave gives greater flexibility and a sense of freedom and work-life balance.

For an employer, as this benefit isn't yet common in Ireland, it can help companies stand out against competitors and attract more top talent. Offering unlimited holidays also signifies a level of trust and can create a strong sense of company culture.

To work for both employer and employee ensure there are clear terms and conditions in place and that the culture exists that allows employees the anonymity to actually take time off.

Flexible working opportunities

Flexible working is now the norm in many industries and increasingly expected from employees. Flexible working policies include working from home or remotely, 3 or 4 day weeks (or 'compressed workweeks'), flexible start times or flexi-time.

For employees, flexible work gives them the flexibility to work when and where suits them. Whereas for employers flexible working can broaden their potential talent pool and minimise costs such as office space.

Businesses need to be adaptable and open to these new ways of working or they will be left behind. Technology and a culture of transparency and trust also need to be embraced for flexible working policies to work properly.

Companies need to build out their digital capabilities and hire the right people to develop and implement these technologies appropriately. Only then can a company fully incorporate flexible work into the everyday company culture.

Onsite health/wellness services

'Wellness' has become somewhat of a buzzword in corporate circles with companies rolling out one-off events and seminars. A culture of authentic wellness can enhance productivity, reduce absenteeism, increase happiness at work and decrease anxiety and stress.

Whereas if a company chooses to implement a generic wellness plan that isn't tailored to employees or backed by the leadership team the results can have negative impacts.

Common wellness benefits companies are now offering to employees include:

  • Fitness classes and/or challenges such as a 'step challenge'

  • Standing desks

  • Mental health supports

  • Programs to help quit smoking

  • Onsite health screenings

In order to offer wellness benefits that will work create a tailored program, measure the results and ask your employees what it is they really need from a wellness point of view.

Free food & catering options

Free food is an attractive and cost-saving perk for employees. It adds to company culture and can increase employee satisfaction and the perception of a company. How many times have you heard people gushing over the free catering at larger multinational companies?

For the employer, free food creates a competitive advantage for your company and can also foster a more connected workforce as employees are more likely to eat together.

If your company can't afford full catering there are other options including a well-stocked break room, partially subsidised meals or free catering at certain times in the month, for example in the days approaching payday.

Paid maternity/paternity leave

Diageo recently made headlines by introducing 26 weeks fully paid leave to new fathers in Ireland, matching the benefits it pays to new mothers. This is a bold move and a clear commitment to offering diverse and inclusive benefits, regardless of gender.

Ireland'sstatutorymaternity leaveis 42 weeks, which translates into 10.5 months, and paidleaveis 26 weeks. For new parents (other than the mother of the child) thePaternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016provides for statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks.

Offerings above the standard again give companies a competitive benefit and can be powerful when trying to attract strong talent, although these type of benefits are much more common in larger organisations than smaller companies.

If your company doesn't have the means to incorporate longer-term maternity and paternity leave why not consider introducing paid sick leave or a number of paid 'personal days' to be used annually.

If incorporated correctly and chosen with your employees and company culture in mind, benefits can be powerful retention and recruitment tools.

See what your competitors are doing and ask for feedback from your employees of what they think of the current benefit offerings to get a clear picture of what benefits might work for your business.

If you'd like to speak to one of our workplace consultants about growing your business or enhancing your benefit offerings get in touch.