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What do employees want? The perks and benefits that matter

Article updated: 26/07/23.

Sometimes for employers, knowing exactly what benefits employees want can seem like a guessing game.

The secret to all perks and benefits is to ensure employees feel appreciated and understood. By talking to your teams, keeping an eye on the market and staying on top of industry trends, you can determine exactly what perks will most benefit your business.

Through fostering a bespoke, supportive culture such as this, businesses can observe increased employee retention and talent attraction.

We’ll discuss the different types of employee benefits, the most requested perks according to the UK workforce and how you can better understand what your sector’s employees really want.

Types of 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 can contribute to well-being, engagement, skill development and self-improvement. 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. Robust pension plans, gift vouchers for performance, bonuses and share options are just a few ways that companies can entice talent, whilst also recognising and motivating current employees.

Working benefits

These benefits cover all aspects of work life and are often some of the most popular requests by employees. In today’s market, flexibility such as hybrid and remote working schedules have become par for the course, with employers now venturing into flexitime and four-day weeks in order to fully embrace employee autonomy.

Other popular working benefits include leave for specific duties such as childcare or paid days to engage in voluntary work. Study support or enrolment in learning and development courses can empower employees to upskill themselves, taking on new projects and responsibilities proactively.

Healthcare benefits

Whether covering occupational sick pay, private medical insurance or annual check-ups, healthcare benefits can show staff that their employer cares about their well-being, further building trust and loyalty.

Other benefits

Benefits which don’t fit into the above categories, such as work laptops or company cars, are often determined by specific industry needs. As such, their need can be determined by sector and experience.

What perks do UK workers want?

To help identify what your workers want, our recruitment specialists have collated the perks that their candidates often seek in each of our sectors. Our expert teams have years of insight, allowing them to advise clients and help candidates to find the right package.

Data & Analytics: What perks do employees want?

By offering increased flexibility and home working, you’ll gain attention from skilled candidates who are willing to travel much further afield. This enlarged candidate pool means that you’ll be able to find the ideal applicant far quicker and with the exact tech stack, industry experience and cultural fit.

With different levels of experience come different priorities. We recently explored which perks are most in demand for junior-level and senior-level data candidates in further depth.

Accountancy & Finance: What perks do employees want?

In this competitive industry, work-life balance is a high priority with most candidates seeking flexibility in their hours and their workload.

If employers understand that certain periods of the year (for example, month-end) can be more intensive – and thus require more time or support, they can effectively demonstrate that their firm’s culture is forward-thinking, focused on the mutual success of all team members.

Another main attraction for many accountancy and finance candidates is if their future team is headed by a skilled finance leader, who they can learn and expand their skills with.

What perks do temporary and interim finance employees want?

In addition to a flexible working model, temporary and interim staff have other unique requests due to their differing pay structures.

These perks include reduced hours (part-time work), competitive day rate opportunities and exposure to different teams; enabling them to drive projects forward and play a part in transformation (consultancy opportunities).

HR: What perks do employees want?

Human resources departments are often at the forefront of understanding what their co-workers need. As such, they are quite forward-thinking in their own demands. Candidates in HR often look for a more modern work environment, with flexibility for both time and location. Flexible working hours, remote working and working from home are all key factors in appealing to HR candidates.

IT & Tech: What perks 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 allows you to entice the right type of candidate. The IT and technology space is also about improving and adding to skill sets, so providing support for learning and skill development can help you find motivated, ambitious team members.

Many seek opportunities to work on challenging and interesting projects, alongside the flexibility to work from home.

Marketing: What perks 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 (for many roles) is led by the success of reach and profits, therefore many marketers find bonus schemes desirable as they help to remain proactively motivated.

Office Support: What perks do employees want?

Office support staff have followed in the footsteps of other industries with a demand for modernisation towards more flexible working conditions; such as hybrid WFH models and flexible hours. There is also 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.

Supply Chain and Procurement: What perks do employees want?

Working with the supply chain often means going on the road to visit suppliers. Car allowances or access to a company car are often 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 will make your vacancy more 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?

Where flexible hours and working from home were seen as ‘nice-to-haves’ in the past,  they have now become the standard. As such, packages including healthcare, well-being support, or an understanding of work-life balance are 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.”

Work with Distinct 

As leading East Midlands recruiters, we take the time to understand both your organisation and our candidates in order to ensure the right fit, the first time around. We offer a completely bespoke recruitment process designed to factor in every aspect of work life. Contact our Nottingham office to further discuss what workers want.


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