Do Employees Care About Workplace Perks?

With growth at 2% and unemployment at 4.8% in the UK, we might be forgiven for thinking the recession is receding into memory. And it is, for the most part. Except for the impact recent economic history is still having in the workplace.

In the years immediately after the recession – when Europe was wobbling on the brink of another – employees were under pressure to do more with less. Everyone was being asked to do more. Work longer. Work harder. But without annual pay rises and other financial incentives. For several years, belts were tight everywhere, in every sector.

Consequently, many hardworking employees felt undervalued and poorly rewarded. Business owners and HR managers needed to do something to reward them for working so hard, without resorting to pay rises or bonuses. Around the same time, ideas started filtering through from venture capital-backed startups in California. Startups are competing against the likes of Facebook and Google for staff, which is why many started offering perks and benefits that helped them recruit the talent they need and win some free publicity.

What Kind of Office Perks?

Perks in the office can range from free breakfasts to early finishes on Friday, to an employee bar, drinks fridge, or beer or Prosecco on tap. Pet dogs are becoming a popular choice, for staff, and growing an audience on Instagram. Other offices have beanbags, hammocks, slides, nap rooms, pool tables and Yoga classes.

Unlimited holidays, flexitime and the option to work remotely are also popular choices, especially for fast-growing companies and SMEs.

Employers argue that perks aren’t just useful team incentive and recruitment tools. Perks are also useful for promoting a stronger work/life balance, reducing staff turnover and increasing engagement at work. Free food and drink is one of the easiest to implement, and most popular choices, since it encourages staff to interact more in-person, whilst saving them time and money going out for lunch. We can’t deny that some form of employee incentives – such as pizza or an early finish on Friday – is useful for morale and team communication.

Get the Basics Right

However, it can be easy for an employer to use perks as a way to forget what employees really need to feel valued and stay productive. Long-term loyalty does not come from perks. Salary and financial benefits are vital. Communication – such as feedback and praise – is invaluable. Honestly is essential. Employees don’t like to feel they are at the receiving end of a lie.

Google, known for perks and incentives, investigated their impact in 2012. Oddly enough, “it found that employee morale wasn’t directly linked to Google’s benefits”, according to Reed.

CV Library found that 85% would prefer some form of financial reward, instead of a workplace perk or benefit. With the average household debt in the UK around £13,000, there has never been a better time to offer your team benefits that really matter, which could be anything from a pay rise, to bonuses, to something financial, but cost efficient, such as employee benefit loans and savings accounts.

Giving employees the ability to reduce debts and increase savings, without adding to your payroll costs is a win-win for everyone, especially if you are keen to offer practical support, but need to consider economic factors now that Article 50 has been triggered. Clearly, employees value financial incentives more than gimmicks and “perks”, which means an employer should consider a range of options to deliver these solutions for their team.

We work with ethical financial providers to deliver these solutions to organisations across the UK, costing the employer nothing, whilst ensuring their staff can consolidate debts and start saving. Loans and savings: Reducing one and increasing the other at the same time. Find out more today.


CV Library research:

Debt and Economy Damaging Careers and Earnings of Millennials

Our economy is growing, but that doesn’t mean we have seen the last of the recession. It continues to exert an influence on the prospects and earnings of professionals who started their careers during the recession.

Millennials – those born between 1984 and 2001 (also known as Generation Y) – in the UK ended up with the short end of the financial straw. Around the same time – the early 2000’s – the economy was ballooning into a bubble; Generation Y was being sold the dream of earning a degree and walking into a high-flying graduate job, with signing bonuses, cars, and benefits. Then, in 2008, the recession hit.

Dream jobs for graduates became scarce. Young people, used to their own freedom, were forced to return home. A bleak reality sunk in, with dreams put on hold and a younger generation taking any job they could get, from zero hour retail contracts to low-paying freelance gigs. No one expects to graduate from three years of study with a first or 2:1 only to return home and work at Burger King, but for some, especially those who aren’t from privileged families, that is what happened.

Although the recession is over, it takes millennials even longer to get on the housing ladder. Savings are frighteningly low amongst this generation. And debt is high, thanks to student loans, overdrafts and credit cards. But the recession has had a more subtle, yet ultimately more damaging impact on the career prospects of millennials.

Lower Career Confidence

Millennials are – incorrectly – considered fickle and loyal only to themselves. Partly thanks to social media, the “oversharing” generation appear quick to change partners, university courses and jobs. However, a recent study by the Resolution Foundation has found that workers born in the mid-1980s are half as likely to switch jobs as those born in the previous decade. Only 25 percent of millennial professionals regularly job hop, in stark contrast to one of the career stereotypes of that generation.

Wages are also stagnant for younger generations, making it harder to pay off debts or save for a deposit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many who weren’t able to find work after graduating went self-employed, which comes with other risks and rewards.

For those in employment, “One of the most striking shifts in the labour market has been young people prioritising job security and opting to stick with their employer rather than move jobs,” said Laura Gardiner, a senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation.

Can Employers Support Millennials More?

Through no fault of their own, Gen Y employees entered the labour market at the worst possible moment. For many, this slowed down, derailed or resulted in entirely new career plans and pathways. It also made this generation of professionals more cautious. Consequently, they don’t take as many risks, which is why they place a higher value in job security, skills development and reassurance, in the form of praise and feedback, more than previous generations.

However, with unemployment lower than ever – at 4.8% – we know this situation is already starting to change. Younger workers are eager to get on the property ladder. Perks and benefits are great, but millennials prefer salary increases, bonuses, commission or another form of financial reward. Employers should not depend on loyalty when they are only handing out “soft” incentives, such as training, flexitime and Friday treats, like pizza and cake.

One of the biggest financial challenges for younger workers is debts and savings. Too much of one, not enough of the other. Pizza and cake will not keep staff loyal forever when they need to clear debts and pay deposits. However, you don’t always need to give millennials a raise to solve these issues.

Instead, we can provide long-term debt consolidation and savings accounts from ethical lenders through our platform, making it easy for you to help them repay debt responsibly and save for a brighter future, without costing employers anything. Now that is an employee benefit your staff can take to the bank. Find out more today.

CV Library research:

What To Look Out For When Employees Are Struggling With Debt

Despite Brexit inspired fears of an economic slowdown, the British economy keeps growing, with recent forecasts from the Bank of England, European Commission and IMF reporting positive upgrades for 2017.

Business and consumer confidence remains healthy, even optimistic. Fears of recession are receding in people’s minds, replaced by new fears, such as what chaos US President Donald Trump might unleash on Twitter today. Unemployment is currently at 5.4%, with businesses continuing to recruit new staff, grow and invest. At the same time, consumers are borrowing at a rate we have not seen since 2008.

The most recent figures from the Bank of England show unsecured consumer debt – credit cards, loans, overdrafts, car finance and second mortgages – grew 10.8% in November 2016, totalling £192.2 billion.

Peter Tutton, head of policy at the debt charity, StepChange, pointed out that net lending is growing at rates not seen since 2005. Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “Alarm bells should be ringing.” When student loans are thrown into the mix, average UK household debt reaches £12,887, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and TUC.

Are Consumers Saving?

Confident consumers don’t save, they spend. Historically low-interest rates are also partly to blame. Not only is money cheaper to borrow, but saving it generates miserable returns. When an economy is strong, savings fall. They are currently at 5.6%, according to the latest Bank of England figures from Q3 2016.

According to StepChange, if every household had £1,000 as a rainy day fund – which is less than the three to six months financial experts recommend – it would reduce the risk of 500,000 families falling into short-term ‘problem debt.’ For many households – especially those earning decent money – it is easier to take out another credit card than saving.

When Debt Becomes a Problem

Debt is everywhere. Managers and highly-paid professionals have debt. Business owners can’t assume that their staff aren’t struggling with finances as a consequence of comfortable salaries. Higher pay makes it easier to borrow, which in turn, reduces the desire to save and keep a rein on outgoings. When money is flowing freely, now is the time to get into good savings habits, which is also something employers can encourage.

Employers can’t tell employees what to do with their money, but they do have a duty of care that extends to personal and financial wellbeing. An unexpected expense, changing circumstances – such as divorce or a suddenly unemployed partner – and bills getting out of hand can soon push people into tricky financial circumstances. It can happen to anyone, especially when there is no buffer to cushion the blow.

Watch out for warning signs. Bad and unexpected debt can impact productivity, employee morale, causing absences, sick days and stress. Here are a few things managers and colleagues should look out for:

  • Changed circumstances: especially new expenses or reduced household income (a relationship or marriage breakdown) – not reflected in lifestyle choices. If someone is living the same way – going out and splashing cash around – they could risk getting themselves into unmanageable debt.
  • Exhaustion, irritability and stress: We spend a lot of time with our colleagues. People notice when team members are mentally and physically drained. Bad moods, lack of sleep and exhaustion have many causes, but financial worries are always worth asking about, providing this is done sensitively.
  • Poor diet: Financial anxiety is another reason people comfort eat, sleep less, drink more, and stop taking care of themselves.
  • Anxiety, anger and an inability to concentrate: Everyone reacts to stress differently. Some may withdraw, whereas others get angry, or can’t concentrate at work, which is unsurprising when studies show that worrying about money reduces mental capacity, comparable to losing 13 IQ points.

No one wants employees to suffer without offering some intervention and help. There are several solutions, from training to practical interventions, such as the ethical loans we provide through our platform to savings accounts, which is also something we can offer employees. When it comes to saving, small change soon adds up. Providing any assistance is offered sensitively, and the help is received willingly, an employee can get unexpected costs back under control without extra stress or being forced to pay ridiculously high rates that only make a situation worse.


1. The Guardian:
2. ONC and TUC figures in the BBC:
3. B of E savings figures:
4. Princeton study on debt and cognitive impact:

Impact of Employee Financial Stress on your Bottomline

Employee Stress

Recently came across a well-researched post in America about the impact of employee financial stress and its impact on company’s bottom line in real dollars and cents. You can read the whole post and the sources of data they have researched against these, at the bottom of our post.

The main theme was around an acronym they had created – DEFACE and how it adds real costs to a company’s bottom line. We thought we will follow their lead and see how some of this adds up to a company in the UK of 500 employees and paying (for this post’s sake) a minimum wage of £7.20 an hour.

First, the acronym itself relates to Days available (attendance or lack thereof), Engagement (productive hours at work), Fatigue, Alertness (workplace accidents), Commitment (Staff turnover) and lastly Ethics (correlation between stress and temptation to steal at work).

Days Available: on an average 10 hours per month is lost due to absenteeism, 70% of all job absenteeism is tied to stress-related illnesses, of which the leading cause is financial stress. So if we assumed 7 hours a month due to financial stress, the cost impact is £302,400 per year. This obviously does not look at the opportunity cost to business of missed deadlines on customer orders and production backlog

Engagement: On average, a financially stressed employee will spend 20 hours per month dealing with financial issues at work. 70% of UK workers talk about being affected by financial worries. So if we take that as the staff numbers impacted, the cost impact is £604,800 per year

Fatigue: ‘Present-eeism’ where a worker is physically present but absent due to distractions about financial concerns, steals 6 hours of productivity per month per stressed employee. Applying for the same numbers as Engagement, the cost impact is £181,440 per year

Alertness: About 70% of workplace accidents are stress-related due to the distractions of that stress. The US paper said, “As a result, companies with 1,000 employees see about 23 stress-related accidents per year, costing about $29,000 each.” We checked the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website and see that for the UK the figures are £1.6 million for fatal injury, £7,400 per non-fatal injury. If we only look at non-fatal injury then the cost is £85,100 per year

Commitment: Staff turnover is high amongst financially stressed workers as they are willing to switch for an even small increase in wages. If we looked at the UK average turnover of 19% and studies show that 40% of turnover is stress related, the cost of replacing such employees is £5,000 each. So again the overall cost would be £190,000 per year

Ethics: Financially stressed workers are more tempted to steal from their employer, and in the US 4.2% of employees have been caught doing just that. Since we could not find similar data for the UK and did see that most of these were limited to Retail and Logistics sector (as far as available data we could find), we decided to exclude this from our calculations.

So for the 500 staff company, the overall cost of employee financial distress can be as high as £1,363,740. Now that is a substantial sum of money to be left unplugged from your bottom line.

There is a lot of awareness and emphasis now on Financial Education and Employee Financial wellbeing within the HR practitioners across the UK and this segment of Benefits is growing the fastest by various industry estimates. Though education is a good objective but education alone will not bring about behavioural change.

Companies need to be part of the alternative instead of being on the sidelines. The obligatory saving contribution in addition to loan repayments, is one small feature of FairQuid partner Credit Union loans that not only help employees consolidate their existing high-interest debt (thus saving money in interest costs) but also bring about a behavioural change in savings habit in a way that they have a pool of money saved by the time their debt is paid off. So the next time they need money for an unexpected expense, they don’t think of borrowing as their first option.

For more information on how your company can become a part of the movement, contact us

American source article

Savings can also be a cause of stress

Reading a story today on CityAm* about a recent survey conducted by Equiniti on employees and their saving habits; few things stood out.

Just under half (46 percent) of workers want their employers to offer them financial education, while a similar proportion (49 per cent) feel their workplaces could do more to help them make informed savings and investment choices. 58 per cent of savers and investors are not putting away as much money as they would like, with a fifth (19 per cent) saying this is because they are not sure of where best to invest their hard earned cash next.

“…It’s in the employers’ interest, it helps build loyalty and mitigate financial stress …” normally one would think that having some savings should relieve stress, not cause it. A lot of companies, when they think of financial stress and employees being in distress think of employees who are prone to fall prey to payday lenders or have an unsustainable balance on their credit cards. The savers are thought of as people who are financially prudent and hence need no help.

According to a recent post by Daily Mail*, “Millions of customers with savings accounts in Britain are already suffering from historically low returns, with many popular savings accounts paying close to zero.” Financial Conduct Authority has also named and shamed few banks and Post Office as having easy access accounts that in some circumstances pay no interest. Many banks have been criticised for so-called ‘teaser rates’ which lure customers before slashing back the benefits once the cash has been deposited”.Long term financial education and investments through company share plans are good but the employers also need to look at short and medium term savings of their employees. Money that is being saved for Christmas shopping, a big purchase, a holiday or for a rainy day unexpected expense. Having this money

Long term financial education and investments through company share plans are good but the employers also need to look at short and medium term savings of their employees. Money that is being saved for Christmas shopping, a big purchase, a holiday or for a rainy day unexpected expense. Having this money sit in a zero interest zombie bank account isn’t the only option.

Credit Unions are the original P2P (peer 2 peer) Finance companies since the time P2P Finance or the social economy weren’t fancy terms. Members savings are not just protected under the FSCS (just like a bank) but they earn dividends on their deposits at the end of the year. Unlike saving account interest rates of banks, the dividends are not fixed or reduced by the credit unions. It is directly linked to the money the credit union earns by lending to its members.

So it is a win-win situation – you save when you don’t need the money, withdraw when you need it. If you need more than you have saved, then you can borrow from the credit union itself and help yourself and other members earn dividends from the money you borrow. Member helps member, the social economy at its original best.

FairQuid runs the tech platform where you can connect your employees to your local credit union and instil long-term financially behaviour change. Start now

*CityAm article

*DailyMail article