How to optimise your employee benefits to attract talent

How to optimise your employee benefits to attract talent

Following the huge retail and hospitality staff crisis as a result of COVID-19, high street giant John Lewis has announced its plans to recruit 7,000 temporary workers in its UK department stores as well as its Waitrose supermarkets and distribution centres in the run-up to Christmas. 

As the number of job vacancies in the UK surges past one million for the first time since records began in 2001, it appears demand for more staff in these sectors has reached a critical point, with many individuals leaving their posts due to a combination of low wages, a lack of progression prospects, heightened health risks, and harassment from customers. John Lewis has also announced it will be recruiting an additional 550 permanent full-time drivers and warehouse staff. However, a combination of Brexit and the pandemic, which has created a large backlog in HGV driver tests, has meant that there already aren’t enough lorry drivers to meet demand – a problem that has badly affected big-name companies such as Morrisons, Coca-Cola, Nandos, Wetherspoons and BP.

So, with lots of recruitment plans and vacancies but not enough staff qualified or willing to fill them, how can these companies attract new employees and compete for talent in an undersaturated sector – not just in the run-up to Christmas – but as we continue to navigate the fall-out from the pandemic? 


More businesses in the hospitality sector are finding themselves forced to increase wages as well as pay progression and development opportunities in a bid to attract and retain staff amid recruitment struggles. Italian-inspired restaurant chain Prezzo has recently introduced a 4% pay rise for its 2,500 team members, joining the likes of Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger and Itsu, and has announced the closure of all of its restaurants on Boxing Day to give staff more time to spend with friends and family over the festive break.

Although salary is an integral part of your business’s total employee benefits package, it is neither the only or main driver of employee engagement and loyalty. Nowadays, individuals want their time at work to feel less transactional and instead prioritise having a valuable and fulfilling experience. That’s why a good benefits package can make all the difference to your business’ Employee Value Proposition and is a vital tool for attracting and retaining talent, particularly when competing with other companies. Here are a few ways you can enhance your benefits to optimise your business’ appeal as an employer:

Provide money-saving opportunities

Giving your employees the opportunity to save money and earn cashback on their everyday spending is a valuable benefit that has a meaningful impact on their lives. By providing your team with access to discounts and offers for a wide range of retailers including supermarkets, high street shops, popular restaurants and cinemas, you can help them make their salaries go further. 

You’ll also be demonstrating that you understand the additional financial hurdles that many people are facing at the moment. Not only will this make them feel seen and valued, but will also make a noticeable difference to their financial wellbeing, which in turn will affect their engagement and commitment to the business. 

Our benefits & discounts solution, advantage, has been designed to help you give your employees something extra. Find out more here.

Deliver health & wellbeing support

Not only is it your duty of care as an employer to provide valuable wellbeing support, but it’s also now a must-have benefit for people, particularly in our post-pandemic world where more people are, understandably, prioritising their health and happiness above anything else. Having a comprehensive health & wellbeing solution in place is what will set your business apart from its competitors, and demonstrate to potential employees that your business truly values and cares for its people.

Beyond that, individuals who are healthy and happy are far more likely to engage with and find enjoyment in the work they are doing, and in turn, feel more committed to organisational success and be more likely to be an advocate for your business. From discounted gym memberships and online mindfulness courses to a 24/7 GP helpline and financial support, employee wellbeing support comes in all shapes and sizes because every individual has different needs. It’s important that not only your business provides holistic care, but regularly makes wellbeing a topic of conversation in internal communications and beyond. 

Through our health & wellbeing solution, the zone, your employees can access a wide range of tools and tips in one convenient space. Find out more here.

Offer flexibility

If there’s one thing businesses have learnt following the pandemic, it’s that employees want increased flexibility and that rigid working patterns are becoming a thing of the past. But while remote and hybrid work setups have become a solution for many businesses, it isn’t as easy to introduce this flexibility in the retail and hospitality sectors, where individuals need to be physically present to get their jobs done. Finding other ways to offer your employees flexibility, such as introducing flexitime or a buying and selling holiday entitlement policy, can be a great way to help your team achieve a fulfilling work/life balance. Embracing a flexible working policy is also important for boosting a business’ Employee Value Proposition and remaining competitive in the current climate.

Provide learning opportunities

Career progression is a key driver of employee engagement as most people are looking for opportunities to develop their skills and grow professionally. Whether it’s the chance to take on more responsibility or become an expert in their role, growth opportunities are often essential when looking to attract prospective talent. As a result, by giving your team access to valuable learning opportunities, whether that’s in the form of online training videos or professional courses aligned to their roles, you’ll enhance your appeal to potential job candidates and drive engagement with your existing employees. 

Read more on how to enhance your employees’ career wellbeing here.

Use reward and recognition to boost morale and build culture

While a good work culture isn’t an employee benefit, it’s certainly a desirable quality and something people will look for when choosing their next employer. Establishing a system whereby individuals are frequently rewarded for their hard work – whether that be for demonstrating company values or going above and beyond to help a colleague  – is critical for building a positive work culture and a happy team. Recognition doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a huge gesture or an expensive reward either, often a simple ‘thank you’ when delivered in a meaningful and personal way, can have a lasting impact on employees’ morale and engagement.

As many of us spend a huge amount of our day-to-day lives at work, the people and culture of a business are a huge selling point. By encouraging your team to be generous and reward hard work, you’ll be showing prospective talent that your business has a people-centric culture, truly values individuals and is, therefore, a fantastic place to work. 

Our ereward reward and recognition solution enables your business to celebrate your employees’ successes when it matters most. Find out more here.

Final thoughts

As we edge closer to Christmas and businesses in the retail and hospitality sector compete to fill their vacancies, the value of a compelling benefits package will become even more clear. As we’ve mentioned, delivering benefits that make a difference to your employees’ lives both personally and professionally is key. But, it’s also important to think about the big picture – does your culture and working environment attract the right people? Does your business deliver an engaging employee experience? These are critical areas to consider when looking to enhance your business’ Employee Value Proposition.

Read next: Five ways you can ensure a fulfilling employee experience as your team returns to the workplace

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With cost of living increases continuing to create financial challenges for people in the UK, now is the time for businesses to take action to provide valuable, long-term support to help their employees.

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