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Mark Sinclair's blog - 21 September: What constitutes a must-have benefit?

Date: 21 September 2015

Mark Sinclair is Tusker's chief operating officer

The announcement by the NHS that they were introducing Zumba and Yoga classes in a £5 million health benefit programme has certainly raised some eyebrows, and a few questions.  When did 'nice to have' benefits become 'must-have' ones?

Employers have certainly widened their benefits packages in recent years, in particular to address retention problems.  But the question remains, how does a responsible employer decide which benefits to offer?  Which ones offer value for money?  Which ones actually meet the objectives of recruitment and retention?

These are issues that we have found ourselves discussing with customers at length.  Employers are increasingly looking at adding value to flexible benefits packages alongside the usual pensions and work-based insurances.  Along with the NHS offering enhanced health benefits, some forward-thinking employers are looking at offering independent financial education and advice.

All valuable offerings, yet none quite match the financial and emotive value of a car.  And although company cars are often considered a must-have for certain roles, they are not usually offered to everyone. 

With more than half of people in employment in the UK driving to work, according to the Office for National Statistics, more and more employers are looking closely at extending this benefit to their wider employee base. 

They know that employees certainly value this benefit extremely highly, but they also know that getting staff into newer, more efficient vehicles that are properly maintained and insured for business use as well as for social, domestic and pleasure is addressing another vital need - that of health and safety.  They also know that a carefully structured scheme can significantly reduce an employer's carbon footprint.

These benefits all add to the 'nice to have' argument, but what makes a company car a 'must have' offering is the fact that through a salary sacrifice scheme, all these benefits can be made available at no cost to the employer.  Now, measure that against any other employee benefit and suddenly a salary sacrifice car scheme becomes a must-have on every employer's list.