In an increasingly frenzied world, the issue of employee’s health and wellbeing has never been more important and the benefits and rewards companies are able to offer has a significant role in attracting the best personnel. Charles Cotton is Performance and Reward Adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, and he stresses at the most basic level, proper remuneration is essential. “You need a certain level of income to enjoy a basic level of wellbeing,” he says. “If you’re not earning enough that will be reflected in money worries and high levels of stress, and this can be reflected in higher turnover and absenteeism, and lower productivity.”

If you’re not earning enough that will be reflected in money worries and high levels of stress, and this can be reflected in higher turnover and absenteeism, and lower productivity

Foresighted employers, however, are able to boost employees’ sense of wellbeing by offering benefits. “Larger companies can often buy lots of perks more cheaply than their employees could individually, such as life insurance, gym membership and shopping vouchers,” says Charles. “Some employers are now defining contributions in terms of benefits: they’re allowing employees to choose, for example, between a higher salary or more benefits. The most common benefits are paid leave for bereavement, training and career development and pensions. When it comes to pensions, many employers are putting more into pensions than they’re legally required to do so as to stand out in the market place or help employees retire when they can afford to. Other common benefits include, free tea or coffee or the ability to receive deliveries at work.”

One way employers have encouraged their employees to contribute more to their pension is by matching any extra contributions the employee makes

In its recent survey, Employee Outlook:  Employee attitudes to pay and pensions, the CIPD emphasised the importance of pensions at work. “One way employers have encouraged their employees to contribute more to their pension is by matching any extra contributions the employee makes,” it said. “Just under two- fifths of respondents work for an employer that increases the contributions they make to an employee’s pension if the employee increases their own contribution. Evidence suggests that such incentives work: 66% of employees say the employer match encourages them to up their contributions. Of these, 62% pay in the maximum to get the highest employer contribution possible, while 38% contribute somewhere between above the minimum but below the maximum. We encourage the Government not to change how pension contributions are currently treated in tax terms because it’s likely to reduce the ability of such initiatives to encourage employees to save more.”

Another benefit enlightened employers are also offering is help with understanding personal finances. “There are a number of drivers behind this, not least so that employees understand how much money is being spent on their behalf.” says Charles. “As employees face more options about what to do with their pension pot, it’s important they make informed decisions, such as being aware of possible tax implications.”

Companies are helping their employees become more financially savvy through signposting sources of help, running their own educational programmes or getting people in from outside, such as IFAs to give talks. “It’s not just about providing benefits,” says Charles. “It’s also helping employees get the best out of their rewards.”