Bank holidays are an entitlement for most employees and something to be grateful for and with the extra day off for the King’s Coronation, plus another bank holiday approaching – a four-day working week has become the reality for many this May, says Chris Ronald.

But what does that mean for productivity and motivation? Whilst the extra day off is great, the work that it can create, before and after the fact, can leave employees feeling overwhelmed and overworked.

This is where taking an all-year-round approach to employee appreciation is important. Current economic circumstances might make it prudent for employers to reassess the workplace benefits they offer, to reduce the stress their employees are feeling.

For instance, just a few years ago, flexible working models were for the privileged few. Before the pandemic office workers in the UK spent an average of 3.8 days a week in the office, but this has since dropped by almost two-thirds to just 1.4 days. Having the option to choose when to go to the office has made some benefits, such as childcare, less of a priority – and many employees would prefer they were subbed out for something more relevant.

Taking a more holistic approach to benefits can help to take the strain off employees 365 days of the year. With three in four (76%) employees looking to save more money, cost-saving benefits are more important than ever for employers to consider. The cost-of-living crisis means that workplace benefits are no longer a perk but a necessity.

Understanding what makes your employees happy

From putting on summer themed spreads in the office, to encouraging employees to get out and about in the lunch break to enjoy the sun, employers have an array of options when it comes to trying to install goodwill. But in the current climate, companies that go above and beyond for their employees are the ones that will win. One option could be to take advantage of more bespoke benefit packages that go above and beyond the normal perks. An office pool table or free drinks are becoming less appealing as employees battle with the rising cost of living and the various pressures this brings, so working out what it is that your employees really want is key.

Some employees may see more value in salary sacrifice schemes which can help with everyday spending such as the grocery shopping or help you make savings replacing large ticket items in the home like washing machines or fridges.It might not be as creative, but if it takes pressure off, it will go a long way in making them feel listened to and valued.

To get the most ROI of any benefits package that you invest in, it’s important that they are tailored to your employee’s needs as they stand now.

Take the day off

Whilst bank holidays are applauded, there is also a large portion of the UK that do not have these extra days off as a guarantee. Whether they do or not depends on the wording in their employment contract. For example, if the contract says the employee is entitled “to all bank and public holidays”, then the extra day should be granted automatically. If not, then this is entirely down to the employer’s discretion.

Even if it is not made explicit in an employee’s contract, shutting down and giving staff a long weekend is a great way to show them you care about their wellbeing. Considering 77 percent of employees have experienced burnout at least once in their current roles, it gives them an opportunity to switch off, whether that is chilling out, doing something adventurous or just not having to think about work.

Again, this does not have to be a one off. While the business might not allow for every employee to have all bank holidays off, just giving one a year could help boost morale and happiness in the workplace.

This can be difficult for industries where bank holidays are their busiest periods. Hospitality for example generates huge income during a typical bank holiday. In fact, UK Hospitality, predicts that there will be a £350 million spending boost in pubs, hotels and restaurants during coronation weekend. Here, employees can look to give a different day or look at other reward options.

It is all about strategy

A bank holiday means something different for each employee and unfortunately they come and then they go. Some may be excited to spend time with the family, others may already be dreading the FOMO from having to work. Regardless of the coronation, employers should keep bank holidays front of mind when it comes to workplace benefits and rewards. Despite the additional day off for many, they do come with challenges. By offering a tailored approach and ensuring rewards line up with employees’ wants and needs, businesses can ensure benefits improve employees’ experience of the workplace for longer than one long weekend.


Chris Ronald is VP EMEA B2B Incentives & Operations at Blackhawk Network Europe.