How to make your benefits package more inclusive and attractive

While benefits and perks are just one branch of your business’ attraction strategy, they can be highly impactful. Offering inclusive benefits that positively impact your employees’ lives and overall wellbeing will do wonders for your attraction and retention efforts, including boosting employee satisfaction levels and productivity. But how can you make sure that your benefits package is both attractive, as well as inclusive for all?

Given the Bank of England’s predictions of the UK’s longest recession, offering more pay, signing-on bonuses, and lucrative commission structures may not be feasible for all businesses. Luckily for recruiters, employees value more than just salary alone, and turning your attention to your benefits package will ensure that you are an attractive and competitive employer. 

In a recent survey*, 42% of jobseekers told that they are more likely to apply for roles that list the benefits. However, 27% of employers think that the absence of benefits does not impact application numbers. Considering the influence that an attractive benefits package can have on your attraction efforts, it begs us to question why only two in five (41%) businesses** list benefits in their job adverts.

The pandemic brought a lot of changes to both the way that we work and the value that we place on work. Research shows that the aftermath of the pandemic has made employees hold more value in their life outside of work, so offering benefits that support a healthy work-life balance and considers the needs of different people is vitally important when attracting quality talent. 

Gone are the days when employees were happy with Friday drinks, a ping-pong table, or game consoles. Employees want meaningful perks that enhance their work-life satisfaction and can aid their lifestyles and needs.

So, what are the top employee benefits or workplace perks? 

As it stands, jobseekers rated flexible working hours (62%), an employer-contributed pension (54%), and remote working options (36%) as the most important employee rewards and benefits. However, it is worth considering how you could improve your benefits package by adding or enhancing certain benefits to make them more inclusive and attractive to all talent.

Enhanced family leave 

All UK employers are legally required to offer statutory maternity, paternity, and adoption leave for eligible employees – but offering your employees enhanced leave is an attractive perk. 

Considering that the average age to become a parent in the UK is 30.7 years for mothers and 33.6 years for fathers, it is no surprise that the greatest demand for enhanced parental leave comes from 18-34-year-olds. Almost a quarter of this demographic (24%) said that they consider enhanced maternity leave to be one of the most important employee perks, but only 15% currently receive this benefit. 

Interestingly, only 10% of overall respondents receive enhanced maternity leave, 7% enhanced paternity leave, and 6% enhanced adoption leave. Enhanced parental leave is an invaluable perk for those who are looking to start or expand their family and shows that as a business, you support and value the time that new parents need to adjust and bond with their children. 

It is important to consider all parents and pay equal attention to all types of leave – maternity, paternity, and adoption leave – to ensure that all employees feel the benefit and support of this perk. 

Fertility support

According to the NHS, 1 in 7 couples face difficulty conceiving and infertility can affect anyone. The uncertainty and stress that many face around fertility can be an overwhelming and draining situation and knowing you have your employer’s support give people one less thing to worry about. 

Fertility support can come in the form of discounts on private fertility treatments, access to tests or specialists, as well as extra time off work for treatment, tests or for those affected by pregnancy loss. 

An online research study shows that just under a third (31%) of employers offer fertility support, but it’s a perk that could have a real impact on employees’ mental health and satisfaction at work. 

Menopause support

Menopause is a fact of life which affects half of the world’s population, yet not many companies prioritise menopause support as a part of their benefits package – only 9% of businesses offer it at all. 

Recent headlines have put menopause discussions and awareness into the public eye, shedding light on an important aspect of life that many have to silently deal with. As businesses continue to focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees, it is reasonable for employees to want employers to pay equal focus to their hormonal health journeys and be understanding of the career-impacting effects that women endure during menopause. 

Not only could this employee perk help to attract older and female candidates to your organisation, but it will also help to boost the feeling of inclusion and support among your employees. Educating your workforce and showcasing that you are an understanding and empathetic organisation will help improve and strengthen the employer-employee relationship. 

Some examples of menopause support that you could incorporate into your offering include flexible working hours, dedicated wellbeing support, external signposting to menopause-specific support, and even additional time-off allowance. 

Mental health and wellbeing support

Although mental health and wellbeing is a prevalent topic of conversation in the media and in our day-to-day lives,  only 22% of businesses offer mental health and wellbeing support as an employee benefit. When we consider the ongoing financial crisis and the effects that financial stress can have on one’s physical and mental health, it is no surprise that there has been a renewed emphasis on the importance of this particular benefit. Mental health and wellbeing support is a valued reward for many but especially among young, female and LGBTQ+ jobseekers. 

Factors such as flexible and collaborative working all contribute to your employees’ wellbeing and you can consider offering various perks to your benefits package to further support your employees. Options include wellness subsidiaries, virtual counselling, assistance programmes, support groups, resource hubs to build mindfulness, resilience and confidence, educational talks from experts, debt advice, free eye tests and many more. 

Unlimited and floating annual leave 

Most full-time UK workers are entitled to 28 days paid annual leave a year – but it never quite feels like enough, does it? The phenomena of unlimited annual leave have grown in popularity and traction over the past few years and it certainly seems to promote a healthy work-life balance. 

When asked, 31% of survey respondents ranked unlimited annual leave as one of the top five employee perks, but in reality, only 6% of employees benefit from it and it is certainly a popular concept among the LGBTQ+ demographic with 37% of respondents listing it as one of the most important rewards.

Offering your employees unlimited annual leave shows employees that you trust them and value their lives outside of work, but it may not be as ideal in practice as it is in reality. Studies show that employees who have unlimited annual leave actually take fewer days off than those with a set amount. This means that this perk can sometimes end up contributing to burnout rather than helping it. 

Floating annual leave is a certain amount of paid time off that employees can use in addition to annual leave allowances and can either be as a substitute for an observed public holiday or an additional day’s leave. The employer can curate a list of holidays for which the company does not currently offer annual leave (e.g. Diwali, Thanksgiving, Rosh Hashanah) or the employee can put in a request. 

This will allow all employees, regardless of religion, ethnicity or nationality, to celebrate and honour days that are important to them, and not just the government-approved observed holidays. This act of respect and recognition from an employer creates a sense of inclusion and belonging throughout the company. 

Employee development funds or training 

Employees want to work for companies where they can develop both professionally and personally. Creating an environment that encourages this is key to attracting (and keeping) diverse talent. 

When asked about the importance of career progression, 25% of Black jobseekers and 24% of Asian jobseekers cited progression opportunities as one of the most important factors when looking for a job. Additionally, 31% of 18-34 year-olds also cited this as one of their top priorities.   

Ensuring that you have clear promotion pathways, career development plans and frameworks will entice applicants to your roles. Remarkably, considering the importance of progression to jobseekers, only 18% of businesses said that they have career development programmes for their employees**. 

On top of career development programmes, businesses ought to pay attention to the personal development of their employees. This can be in the form of sponsorship, grants or loans for staff to take on a variety of courses such as language courses, driving lessons or even sommelier training. 

Giving people the opportunity to take courses and qualifications that will help to develop their skills outside of work will promote a good work-life balance and help your workforce become well-rounded and satisfied employees. This perk will draw in a wide range of talent that is looking to grow as a person and get more from their job than just completing their daily tasks. 

Employee recognition programme 

Introducing benefits that reward and recognise your employees for their hard work, success, and loyalty encourages them to buy into your company culture and helps with retention efforts too. Actions speak louder than words, and providing employees with a token of your gratitude fosters an inclusive workplace where everyone feels as though they are valued for just being themselves. 

Recognition programmes can take shape in any way you see fit for your organisation. You can create schemes where employees or managers nominate their colleagues and this can be on an individual and/or team basis. You can also consider rewarding employees for long service, high performance, contributing to the culture, living by the company values and many more. Consider what rewards will actually be valued by your employees. Some ideas are: 

  • Gift cards or monetary gifts
  • Team events 
  • Sabbaticals or additional holiday days
  • A half-day on a Friday 
  • Achievement dinners 

The benefits and perks that you offer can have a profound influence on the talent that you attract. Creating a benefits package that promotes diversity and supports all ages, genders, religions, nationalities, and abilities of your employees is key to creating an inclusive culture that employees value and want to contribute to. If you support your employees with their goals, inside and outside of work, they will support you as an employer and work to help you achieve yours. 


*This online survey was conducted by Atomik Research and consisted of 2,004 adults in the UK (96% were employed and 4% were unemployed but actively looking for a job). The survey took place between 7 June – 10 June 2022. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by the MRS code.

**This online survey was conducted by Atomik Research and consisted of 250 employees with hiring responsibilities in the UK. The survey took place between 7 -10 June 2022. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by the MRS code.