Offer a London PR person a company car and they’ll look baffled and ask why you haven’t heard of Uber. Talk about private healthcare or gym membership and you might just get their attention.
The perks that employees and candidates covet have changed. In the fast paced communications industry, lengthy terms of service are relatively unusual so benefits with immediate impact are the most popular. What people look for also depends on their age, stage of life and what’s newsworthy.
So, here’s the skinny on the most popular and ingenious ways London PR employers attract talent and reward loyal staff. Broadly speaking they fall into three categories: Health, Wealth and Happiness.
Private healthcare is still considered the holy grail of benefits and comes in all shapes and sizes, from basic to enhanced policies that range in cover from individuals to whole families (very popular with parents). A basic scheme would offer eye tests, a couple of private GP visits and the standard coverage for treatment.
Prevention is better than cure, so offer additional health and wellbeing benefits such as fully paid up yoga sessions, spin classes, gym membership, life coaching and bi-annual medicals. This last benefit is worth its weight in gold and all the above are popular, especially among millennials.
Even young people want good pension contributions. Times have really changed when it comes to wealth. The struggle young people face to buy their own home and the declining value of state pensions means even junior candidates now place great importance on a contributory pension. 5% is the average in London but any contribution that goes above statutory (currently 1%, rising to 3% in 2019) will be gratefully received and shows employers are willing to invest in their staff’s long term financial health.
A helping hand: Interest-free season ticket loans, cycle-to-work schemes and life assurance are still mainstays of the benefits world and tend to be expected, so don’t forget them.
Employers can get creative when it comes to beefing up the happy-factor. Big winners include:
Unlimited holiday. You heard right. Take as much holiday as you like! In reality you can’t do your job and swan off for 12 weeks a year, but having the flexibility to take that extra day here and there, without having to go cap in hand to your boss, can help make you feel like a valued grown-up. The average holiday allowance right now is 25 days (including bank holidays) and usually three days extra for Christmas.
If the thought of offering unlimited holiday makes you want to lie down in a darkened room, employers are also offering a capped number of days of unpaid leave which is also very well received.
Early Friday finish. Difficult to keep to when you are very busy, but a real Brucey if you’re going away for the weekend. If you’re reading this and you’re AD level upwards, at least get your team out of the door on time – better still take them to the pub.
Volunteering.Enabling staff to take a day or two out each year to make a direct difference to their office’s local community is a real bonding opportunity. Whether it’s helping out in the old folks’ home, serving soup or picking up litter, the community’s gratitude and the warm fuzzy feeling will last for a good while.
Inspiration days. PR is a creative industry and it’s hard to feel creative when you’re running to stand still. Some firms offer Inspiration Days when you can take yourself off and rekindle your idea-generating fire. It could be an exhibition, a trade fair, a festival, a training course, a trip to the seaside – anything that will refresh your creative spark and reconnect you with the world outside.
Working from home. Ok, this is hardly new but it’s still relatively unusual for employers to be completely cool with home working. If you’re part of a team then of course you need to be in the office more often than not, but a day in the peace and silence of home can be the most productive time you’ll spend all week. Just having one day off the commute can be enough to tip the balance of your week in a favourable direction. And it makes you feel trusted, valued and recognised. Employers take note.
Ultra-Flexi-Time. Flexitime has been around for a while but the new version is where you have no set hours at all. You get the job done when and where you like. It’s the ultimate in trust and you probably have to perform above and beyond to get it, but if you’re a lark or a night-owl this is a great way to work during your most productive hours rather than being constrained by the 9-5. It could also help talented women return to the fold after maternity leave.
Clothing / Glasses / Technology Allowance. It might not seem like much, but a helping hand towards new specs, a suit or a laptop that doesn’t weigh as much as a small car can be a massive help – especially to younger account handlers who are expected to walk the walk but probably don’t have the funds to do it. It shows that you recognise the requirements of the job and are there to help.
Enhanced maternity package / return to work scheme. Employers are getting better at taking care of talented parents who want to return to work after growing their family. Offering a fully paid salary for a longer period before statutory maternity pay (SMP) kicks in is popular, coupled with a return to work bonus and reduced hours for an agreed period time.
SMP is currently offered for 39 weeks; 90% of your salary for the first six weeks and £140 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. Of course you can take Shared Parental Leave too – to find out more check out https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave/pay
Nice to haves
Other popular benefits include regular socials, office breakfast or free fruit, free drinks, a foosball table, games console and of course the birthday / duvet day. None of these are hard to implement and they do make your employees feel special.
If you’re looking for fabulous talent you can shower with amazing benefits or if you’re a candidate that wants to work for an employer that really values you, get in touch today!