How employers are missing the mark with employee benefits

Traditional employee benefits like flexi-time and sabbaticals are declining in popularity, giving way to a growing demand for social and learning-based perks.

A study of 2,315 UK workers published in the 2018 Great Perk Search Report by Perkbox, an employee benefits platform, employees are increasingly keen for companies to offer them clubs and activities that they can enjoy with their colleagues, such as knitting and book clubs.

These were more popular amongst workers than even ‘traditional’ benefits like sabbatical opportunities (64/100), free drinks on Fridays (69/100), Christmas parties (73/100) and flexi-time (83/100) – with these types of perks scoring 72/100 on average.

Interestingly for bosses, workers also admitted they felt these types of activities could improve the way their teams work together (48 per cent) – as well as quite simply being enjoyable (42 per cent) and appreciating the opportunity these offer to learn new things (42 per cent).

Despite how in demand these kinds of benefits are – and how positive an impact they can have on morale and unifying the workforce – just 3 per cent of UK workplaces currently offer a benefit of this kind, suggesting many businesses are missing a trick.

Chieu Cao, CMO & Co-Founder at Perkbox, said:

“It’s interesting to see that extra-curricular clubs and activities such as book clubs, are in such high demand by UK employees. And it’s especially fascinating to see how so many are moving away from what are often more boozy perks like Christmas parties or free drinks on Fridays. Whether it’s a case of workers simply expecting these more traditional benefits, or simply that people are wanting more unusual or innovative benefits from their employers, the workforce is changing.

“This is good news for many employers – as the data has shown, clubs and activities can actually have broader positive effects on the workforce than simply keeping employees happy. These more sociable benefits can actually help teams bond and work better together, creating a more positive company culture where employees feel engaged.

Cao continues:

“Interestingly, this research has shown a bit of disconnect between what employees want and what employers believe they want. In order to ensure the budget being put into offering employee benefits is being used as effectively as it can, this is something that employers should pay closer attention to. If a benefit or perk that is being offered isn’t something the majority of the workforce are interested in, it begs the question of whether it is the best use of this budget.”

To review the findings in more detail, click here to view or download the 2018 Great Perk Search Report.






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.