Corporate Wellness

Staff rewards: why salary just isn’t enough

7 Aug 2017
Last updated on 1 Jun 2023

The battle to attract and retain the top talent rages on, and many companies still think salary will do the trick. But when competitors are able to match the money you’re offering, pound for pound, what else is there?

With a dearth of talent out there, and too many other organisations competing for them, attracting talent takes so much more than salary.

Perks complete the picture

Workplace benefits serve to establish a long-term commitment between employer and employee, showing that you care about and value them as individuals, too. On the other hand, a salary alone communicates little about your organisation and how you view your staff.

A survey by CV-Library showed that money is no longer the biggest priority for today’s workforce – the vast majority (81.9%) said they would accept a pay cut if it meant landing their dream role.

According to the study, career development and happiness at work are much more important for job seekers. And workplace perks or benefits were desired by over half (54.4%) of those surveyed.

So we can see that salary is not the only consideration for employees.

In fact, a 2015 US study revealed that salary should only be about 70% of a worker’s total compensation. Typically, around 30% of their package comprises of the benefits they receive.

It’s essential for firms to differentiate themselves from the competition – and offering staff a full range of benefits gives talented candidates a fuller picture of what your firm is about. Increasingly today, employees expect so much more from their employer – and they’ll be looking at what you have to offer over and above salary when considering working at your company.

What about wellness?

Wellbeing benefits such as gym membership are increasingly valued by employees, as the general population becomes more conscious of their health and lifestyle choices.

The 2016 Capita Employee Benefits Insight Report revealed that 44.8% of employees would judge an employer based on the quality of the health and wellbeing packages on offer.

Interestingly, almost half (48.8%) of higher earners getting over £45,000 a year said they would evaluate their employer or potential employer on the strength of their commitment to employee wellbeing – showing that even for the most money-oriented staff members, wellbeing is still a priority.

As well as keeping their workers content, wellbeing benefits also bring about a raft of rewards to the business including:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced absence rates
  • Lowered presenteeism (where sick staff turn up to work nonetheless, producing a less-than satisfactory performance)
  • Improved brand reputation
  • Reduced turnover and recruitment costs
  • Creation of a happier, and less stressed workforce (stress being one of the major causes of sickness absence).

Getting the most from your benefits

The key to getting value from benefits is providing perks that employees actually want – and, of course, this means you must find out exactly what they’re looking for. Here’s how to ensure both your organisation and workforce are getting the most out of the benefits on offer:

  1. Consult with your staffActually ask staff what they’re looking for in a benefits package, and take this on-board when considering which perks to offer. You should almost treat your employees as customers, finding out their needs and acting to meet them.
  2. Tailor your benefitsToday’s businesses are faced with a diverse workforce of different generations, genders and cultures. Staff value a choice of benefits that speak to their specific needs. For example, while younger generations may choose benefits like gym membership, older ones might prefer health insurance.In the end, tailoring benefits will ensure that your employees are more engaged with what you’re offering, and there will be increased take-up – in turn, increasing the advantages they bring to your business.
  3. CommunicateIt’s more important than ever for organisations to create benefits that are relevant and enjoy a high take-up, since the changes to salary sacrifice means greater cost implications to business. As such, it’s absolutely critical that perks are communicated to staff.For example a new YouGov poll, commissioned by Unum, found that as many as a quarter of employees of small business don’t even know about any of the benefits that are on offer to them.

What’s more, a not insignificant 22% of respondents said they’re dissatisfied with their current package, while two-fifths (38%) of workers complained that their employer simply doesn’t understand that they want.


Benefits remain an important way to attract talent, as well as retain your existing employee base. While some businesses understand the value of employee benefits, many employers still fear that the investment will fail to pay off.

If employee benefits fail to achieve a substantial ROI, it’s often because those benefits are not meeting the needs of staff, or because they are not being communicated properly to workers.

It’s just like the old adage: you get out what you put in; employers who view workplace benefits as an important part of an employee’s compensation and the wider work culture, rather than a tick-box exercise, will surely gain the most from them.

It’s clear that perks are certainly part of what an employee wants – but the potential for those perks to translate into a more highly motivated workforce, reduced absenteeism and a more engaged staff isn’t being realised to its fullest. It’s up to businesses to start putting staff perks first.

Wellhub is helping companies across the UK keep their workforce happy, healthy and motivated. Want to find out how? Contact the team today and learn more about our low-cost, local gym membership scheme.


Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.