The real measure of a HR leader lies in their ability to cultivate a happy, engaged and productive workforce. This means hiring the right people, laying the groundwork for their training and career development, and ensuring their talents are aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives. But it also means recognising and rewarding their hard work.

However, while most managers understand the importance of offering perks and benefits to their employees, it’s still an area of HR in which missteps are common. Innovative thinking is often the exception rather than norm, which leads to benefits schemes that are conventional and dull rather than exciting. And as working habits change and evolve, there’s a growing disconnect between what those schemes deliver and what staff actually want.

If you’re looking to introduce job perks and employee benefits to your organisation, here are four of the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid:

  • You focus on financial incentives and little else. Pay rises and bonuses are often seen as the job perks against which all other job perks are judged. But while there’s plenty to be said for paying your staff a portion of the profits for which they’re responsible, it’s a mistake to think of this as the only way you can show them they’re valued.In fact, for the millennials who’ll soon enough dominate the workforce, financial recompense appears to be falling further and further down the priority chain. According to the results of a recent EY survey, salary is only the fifth most important consideration for today’s graduates when they’re deciding between jobs. The class of 2015, it turns out, prefers employers who offer opportunities for training and personal development.
  • Your perks only apply to the office environment. It’s tempting to think of non-financial staff benefits in terms of workplace improvements, like an office ping pong table or a free fruit delivery once per week. But this ignores the fact that employees are gradually turning their backs on the traditional nine-to-five office environment.Last year, research carried out by PwC found that old-fashioned, office-based working appeals to just 14 per cent of the UK workforce. Meanwhile, one in five respondents wanted to see virtual workspaces, granting them the ability to login from any location and on any device. So instead of trying to build everybody’s dream office, why not facilitate cloud and mobile productivity with tools like Office 365?
  • Staff have limited input into their benefits schemes. If you’re looking to make a genuine difference to employee engagement and productivity with an innovative benefits scheme, it pays to go to the source. Ask your staff what they actually want from their job perks – you might find that it’s very different from the way you see things. Maybe they’d like more opportunities to attend industry events, for example, or some extra help with childcare.In order to keep your employee benefits aligned with the wants and needs of your workforce, you’ll have to promote constant communication between HR leadership and the rest of the organisation. This is simple to accomplish with enterprise social networks like Yammer.
  • You take a one-size-fits-all approach to staff benefits. Finally, it’s important to remember that every employee is different. Before you unveil your new benefits scheme, think about whether each perk applies equally to every member of staff. Nobody wants to feel left out because their manager’s ideas don’t gel with their own working habits.You might find that there’s a lot of mileage in offering perks and benefits that are tailored to the individual, rather than to the workforce as a whole. This could be provided through a scheme that allows employees to choose the benefits they want and swap out the ones that don’t apply to them.

In summary, it’s important to remember that workplaces – and their workforces – aren’t static. As the way we do business evolves, so too must the way you introduce and administer employee benefits. And when you empower your staff to have a say, and to use the technologies and processes they want to use, you might find they end up more productive and engaged than ever.

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