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Skilled employees drive companies forward, but finding the right talent is not so easy. And once employers have found them, the next challenge is to make sure the team is satisfied and doesn't leave for the competition. We're talking about the so-called "war for talent." The term was coined by author Steven Hankin and describes the increasing difficulty of finding suitable and qualified personnel. A battle for the best talent is taking place between companies.
The challenge for companies is therefore to attract and retain highly qualified employees in times of a shortage of skilled workers. The best way to gain an advantage here is through so-called corporate benefits. In addition to the basics such as appropriate salaries, flexible working models and appreciation, employee offers are now indispensable. Several surveys confirm that benefits offer an advantage in recruitment and strengthen identification with the company. A survey on salary satisfaction by Kununu in 2022 backed this up: the connection between benefits and salary satisfaction is very strong among employees. Non-cash benefits therefore have an impact on employee satisfaction.
Company benefits are additional services and offers that the employer makes available to employees. The primary purpose of employee benefits is to motivate employees and retain their loyalty to the company. Financial and non-financial company benefits can be distinguished from each other.
Non-financial benefits can be flexible working models, such as remote working or flexibility in working hours. These should not be underestimated when choosing benefits, as they ensure a better work-life balance. There are many examples of financial benefits:
In relatively many job advertisements, benefits such as "free fruit" or "table tennis table" can be read. While this can increase the feel-good factor at the workplace, it should not be the main focus, as it is now relatively normal and no one chooses a job because of it. That's why it's all the more important to find out which benefits come into question for the team and really add value. Suitable offers can provide a decisive advantage in recruiting and keep qualified employees in the company.
Finding good talent is in itself a crucial point for introducing corporate benefits in the company. But that is only one of many benefits: Employee benefits help to strengthen the employer brand of the company and the mental health of the employees. Well thought-out benefits have a positive influence on employee satisfaction, which leads to greater motivation and productivity. Flexible working time models help employees to better balance their private and professional lives. Since we are all in different life situations and have different duties and needs, these should be as flexible as possible. In addition, offers such as self-care days, sabbaticals or more vacation days help to reduce sick days. Last but not least, save on taxes. Corporate benefits have the advantage over salary increases that companies have to pay little or no taxes.
As already mentioned, corporate benefits can be divided into financial and non-financial benefits. There are no limits to the choice - companies are now becoming increasingly creative in order to stand out from other employers. To give you an overview, we've compiled the most commonly used offerings in a table. In the Best Practices section (further down in the text), we also describe some unusual and individually tailored offers for employees.
This is just a small selection of possible benefits. According to several surveys, the most popular are flexible working models, further training and health measures.
The tax-free benefit in kind is a great way to offer employees added value and save money at the same time. Companies can provide their employees with a maximum of €600 per year, with a maximum of €50 per month. The prerequisite is that the amount is paid out via limited vouchers or cash cards. There is also the possibility to provide tax-free benefits in kind to the team 3 times a year (up to 60€). This can be done on birthdays, Christmas or other occasions and is a great way to express appreciation. We have provided more information on this topic here.
Employee offers are valuable for everyone if they are well organized and cover all needs. When the team is satisfied and happy, they work more productively and with greater motivation. Employers should not underestimate this. Of course, other factors besides good pay and appreciation influence increases in job satisfaction. However, corporate benefits can help create a work environment in which people enjoy working and feel good all around.
It is not uncommon for companies to introduce benefits that are not very satisfactory for employees and add little value. Therefore, it is important to proceed with a strategy and find out what employees want in the first place. Trying to sell a fruit basket as an exceptional benefit will not go down well. So here are some steps to take to get the most out of employee benefits and create real value. It doesn't matter whether employers want to introduce new corporate benefits or revise existing ones. Once introduced, the offer should also be reviewed regularly - because wishes and requirements change. Corporate benefits are usually a matter for the HR team or office management. Once it has been clarified what budget is available, the planning can begin:
1. find out what employees really want
In theory, we all know that we should introduce offerings that employees really want. But in reality, there is a gap between what employers offer and what employees want. So in the first step of the strategy, we need to find out what employees want and need. Several surveys have addressed this issue, and from them we can get a good indication of which benefits are best received. But the most important step, and actually the easiest, is to ask the employees! This is actually logical, but is not always implemented in practice. An internal survey is quick, takes little time and delivers the best results. External surveys can, of course, help to get an overview, but should not serve as the only source.
2. clarify which goals are to be achieved with it
Basically, there are two phases that companies can influence with corporate benefits: Recruiting, i.e. finding good talent and creating an incentive as to why they should switch to this company in particular; and employee retention, i.e. retaining existing talent and reducing fluctuation. The more comfortable employees feel, the longer they will stay with the company. Benefits can also be divided into these two phases, even if they overlap for the most part. Nevertheless, it is important to think about what you want to achieve in advance and to take the status quo into account. Employees who leave the company can be asked why they decided to change, what appeals to them about the new challenge and what they missed at the company they are leaving.
3. create a corporate benefits package that adds value for everyone
The fact that all employees have different needs and perceptions of a perfect work environment must be given special consideration when developing a package. When working out the individual elements of employee benefits, employers should place special emphasis on satisfying the entire team. This looks different for each benefit. Let's say we decide to adopt or expand the rules for a flexible work model. Since our working world has changed rapidly in recent months and employees want more and more flexibility, this is a great example of how it works in practice. But if this offer is too limited, it does not provide the benefits that should come from it. When we think about where to work and come up with a hybrid work strategy, the best case scenario is that all options should be available and employees should be in the driver's seat: Whether they want to work in a home office, in an office, or in third places like coworking spaces. Of course, there can be agreements that the team meets regularly for specific meetings on site. But if we draw the rules too tightly and dictate 3 days in the office is mandatory, we are again not paying attention to all needs. There are still employees who love to come to the office (almost) every day and need the social exchange to stay motivated. Equally, there are enough more introverted people who can't concentrate optimally when there are too many stimuli in the environment. If employers let employees decide where they are most productive, they will work from the place that works best for them. Of course, we can't forget about current life situations: Employees who have children or care for relatives can reconcile this much better if they can flexibly arrange their work location and also spontaneously pick up the children from school. This should be considered in really every aspect of employee offerings. Existing offers should be reconsidered and possibly expanded.
4. find a good mix of all categories
The corporate benefits categories listed above can be supplemented and then compared with the results of the employee survey. To find a good mix, all areas should be covered as much as possible. If a company offers a lot of corporate health promotion measures, that's great, but if no flexible elements are added, this can demotivate employees. The elaborated table can be seen as a construction kit with which employers build their individual concept so that all employees are satisfied. It often happens that not all benefits can be extended to all positions. We cannot perform every role in a home office, but that does not mean that these employees cannot have flexible working hours.
5. get creative and offer exceptional corporate benefits
To gain a competitive edge in the battle for the best talent, it pays to get creative. The more flexible and individualized the benefits, the more satisfied the workforce will be. If employees have a choice between two companies that both offer remote work, but the first company imposes numerous restrictions (e.g., mandatory attendance 2 days per week), it's clear what the decision will be. In practice, when companies use a budget for fitness activities, it often means paying out an allowance for the fitness center. The more flexible alternative for this is a budget per month available for all fitness as well as wellness activities. Because not everyone likes to go to the fitness center. In the meantime, we read in every second job advertisement that flexible working is practiced. In practice, however, this is often accompanied by restrictions. When employers decide to give employees complete freedom of choice, it really is an exceptional benefit and not just a means of generating more applications.
Tax-free payment in kind from Regional Hero
The B-Card in Berlin and the Minga Card in Munich from Regional Hero Card are regional non-cash cards. They are perfect for all companies that want to offer an individual corporate benefit. This makes it easy to optimize employees' net wages - at the same time, employers create added value for the local economy. A monthly credit can be conveniently provided and redeemed at all credit card acceptance points in the selected region. There is also access to regional online offers and special local favorite places. Everyone will find what they are looking for in the favorite places: They include different regional businesses, e.g. restaurants, wellness activities, fashion, living, cosmetics, sports and much more.
Coworking membership from Regus
Regus supports companies in optimizing hybrid working. With a coworking membership, employers offer their employees even more flexibility. In addition to home office or work in the office, the team is provided with a monthly budget for flexible working. This offers the perfect complement to existing office space and opens up new working models: employees who have a long commute or too little space for a workstation in their home can conveniently book a desk nearby. In addition, a wide variety of meeting rooms can be booked. Especially for strategy meetings or creative workshops, companies can find inspiring work environments. In the war for talent, membership can bring another advantage: Remote professionals can be recruited and even though employers do not have their own office in that city, a Workplace can be made available.
Fitness and wellness from Urban Sports Club
Urban Sports Club is just as interesting for private individuals as it is for employers. With over 7,000 partner locations, membership offers access to Germany's largest partner community. The offer is very flexible: From live courses and on-demand videos to master classes, employees can let off steam there. In addition to sports activities, there is also a selection of wellness offers, so there is something for everyone.
These were three examples out of hundreds from practice. What they all have in common is flexibility and individuality. All employees find what is right for them in the offerings.
Employee benefits are a sensible and effective way of increasing satisfaction and expressing appreciation. However, the best employee offers are of no use if they are not tailored to all the employees' needs. Of course, subsidies for the fitness center are great, but employees who prefer to do sports in nature and have brunch more often at their favorite café are left out. The key to balanced benefits is obvious: The offers should include all employees and be chosen to be as individualized as possible.