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What Do Employees Want? The Perks and Benefits that Matter

For employers, knowing exactly what benefits employees want can be a guessing game - or at least it seems like it.

The secret to all perks and benefits is to ensure employees feel appreciated and understood. As such, listening to employees, your market, and your current team can go a long way in informing you of what types of perks to offer, in order to entice the right candidates. We’re going to look at the different types of employee benefits, the most requested benefits according to the UK workforce, and how you can better understand what your sector’s employees really want.


What are employee benefits?

Employee benefits give employers a way to attract talent and retain employees, while at the same time showing how much they care for their team. These benefits contribute to wellness, achievements, skill development, and self-improvement.


Types of employee benefits

Employee benefits fall into several categories and can be combined in various ways to address different needs.

  • Financial benefits

Financial benefits vary greatly with short-term and long-term rewards. Options such as robust pension plans, gift vouchers for performance, bonuses, and share options are some ways companies can entice candidates without breaking the bank on salaries. Salaries have always been a central part of what employees want, with perks such as bonuses adding to the benefits employees want to see.


  • Working benefits

These benefits cover all aspects of work life and are often some of the most popular requests by employees. This is especially relevant after lockdown as more and more candidates demand flexible working hours, remote working, and hybrid working hours. 

Other working benefits include accruing leave through work, leave for specific events such as childcare, voluntary work, and studies or upskilling.


  • Healthcare benefits

Whether it’s occupational sick pay, private medical insurance, or annual checkups, healthcare benefits show that businesses care about their team and build trust. Further to this, healthcare benefits are known to reduce sick times which benefits companies as they lose less time to illness


  • Other benefits

Last but not least, there are sundry benefits that don’t fit into these categories, from small little extras like work laptops to company cars. All of these extras are determined by specific industry needs and as such are determined by sector and experience.



What perks do UK workers want?

Determining what perks workers want can be a bit tricky. Every sector is different with specific skill sets, systems, and pain points affecting what prospective employees look for. Luckily, to help you identify what workers want, our teams have selected the main perks candidates look for in each sector. From tech and IT to marketing and finance, our expert team always keep their fingers on the pulse to inform clients and help candidates find the right package. Here are some of our top tips.

By industry:  Accountancy & Finance | HRIT & Tech | MarketingOffice SupportSupply Chain and Procurement


Accountancy & Finance - What do employees want?

This competitive industry has shifted towards work/life balance with most candidates looking for flexibility with time and workload. An understanding that month-end for example can be busier and thus require more support or time vs. other times of the year shows candidates that firms are forward-thinking and team-focused. This along with a finance leader that the team can learn from are the main pulls for most accountancy and finance candidates.


 What do temporary and interim Accountancy & Finance employees want?

In addition to a flexible working model, temporary and interim staff have specific requests or interests due to differing pay structures. These perks include reduced hours (part-time work), competitive day rate opportunities, and the ability to work with teams to drive projects forward and transformation (consultancy opportunities).


HR - What do employees want?

Human resources departments are often at the forefront of team needs and as such are quite forward-thinking in their own demands. Candidates in HR are looking for a more modern work environment with flexibility for both time and location. Flexible working hours, hybrid working, and working from home are all key factors in appealing to HR candidates.


IT & Tech - What do employees want?

IT and Tech is a highly competitive industry with high salaries and demands. Perks can often sweeten the deal or persuade candidates to take a lower salary and therefore can be valuable for SMEs or clients with a limited budget.

First and foremost, we recommend matching salaries to skill levels as this evens the playing field and allows you to entice the right type of candidate. IT is also about improving and adding to skill sets, so adding in time or support for skill development can help you find motivated, ambitious team members.

Given the nature of the industry, flexibility to work from home can also help along with any opportunities to work on cool and interesting projects.


IT and Tech - What do line support employees want?

Line support candidates are often in the earlier stages of their careers and focus on career progression as well as training and development. Most line support IT professionals want assurances from employers that they will be supported with time or investment in courses and exams which can help them develop their skills. 



Marketing - What do employees want?

The marketing industry thrives on creativity and innovation. As such, candidates look for work which best fits this need for autonomy and freedom within the role. This can be through a flat organisational structure, hybrid or remote working opportunities, or development and progression pathways. This industry (at least for most roles) is led by the success of reach and profits and many marketers find bonus schemes desirable to keep themselves motivated.


Office Support - What do employees want?

Office support staff have followed in the footsteps of other industries with a demand for a modernisation towards more flexible working conditions such as hybrid WFH models and flexible hours. There is also a huge demand for holiday allowance over the basic 28 days plus statutory holidays.

From a financial perspective, pensions are important to the Office Support sector so any additional contributions or commitments are highly sought after. Finally, and this is a small yet crucial one - for teams working on-site in an office, free parking is a must.


Supply Chain and Procurement - What do employees want?

Working with the supply chain often means going on the road to visit suppliers. A car allowance or company car are highly valued as a result as the costs for running a vehicle can become quite a cost. 

Covering car costs (at least in part) along with hybrid working make your role attractive to candidates. However, the biggest pull for motivated candidates is CIPS support. Any company that can provide funding for personal skills development are likely to succeed in its recruitment drive for supply chain roles and are more likely to find personnel with the ambitions to match their needs.


When is a perk not a perk?

As you can see, there are a variety of needs and wants that drive a candidate’s decision. In the past, it may have been easy to entice candidates with a bigger pay packet, but the increased costs of living and operating a business mean employers need to find ways to entice candidates without going over budget. Perks are a great way to do this - but demand can change over time.

Where flexible working hours and work from home were seen as ‘nice-to-haves’ in the past,  they have now become the norm. As such, some measure of healthcare, support, or understanding of a work/life balance is key to showing candidates that your business is forward thinking. 



Our HR guru Louise Carling said it best; 

“If you’re not already providing perks such as healthcare or support, you’re starting off on the back foot. No longer a gold standard, they’ve become must-haves. In the era of WFH and remote working, it’s about culture, vision and leadership more than having pool tables in the office.”


Find out more about what employees want from a business

Here at Distinct, our recruitment specialists have years of combined experience behind their knowledge of our industries. To understand what benefits employees really want, get in touch with our Nottingham or Milton Keynes offices today, and let's discuss how we can make your roles more appealing to potential candidates. 


Distinct Recruitment offers a completely bespoke recruitment process designed to factor in every aspect of work life. As leaders in the field, we take the time to understand both your organisation and our candidates in order to ensure the right fit, the first time around. We keep our ear to the ground and are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we keep up with modern business demands.

Let’s have a chat about what you can offer candidates and how you can make your recruitment drive successful.

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