Should businesses offer their workers extra benefits rather than pay increases?

As the UK is currently experiencing a ‘cost of living’ crisis, it may appear that, more than ever before, now is the best time for employers to offer pay increases. However, it would be unwise to dismiss or overlook the other thing that can help employees survive the economic turmoil – employee benefits.

So, the ultimate question here is – should businesses offer their employees non-monetary bonuses instead of pay increases? Let’s discuss.

Why extra benefits may be better than pay increases

Whilst it may seem like a no-brainer that pay increases are an excellent way to reward your employees, especially in the current economic climate, research has actually shown that 80% of employees prefer benefits over a pay rise. Although the survey was conducted pre-pandemic, it could still be argued that it is the same today even in a post-COVID-19 lockdowns and inflated prices society.

The pandemic highlighted the cracks in workplace infrastructure, particularly in terms of care and protection of employees. As a result, there has been increasing awareness and acknowledgement of wellbeing within the workplace, giving importance to mental health and its links to productivity, motivation, and employee perceptions of the company.

So, what extra benefits can businesses provide to employees that are much better than pay increases?

Financial protections

As previously mentioned, the pandemic affected businesses worldwide, forcing offices to close their doors. Businesses should consider employee life insurance to protect both their employees and their families in the event that an employee passes away. With these life insurance policies, financial support is provided for the families which can help put their minds at ease during a difficult time.

Other examples to consider also include things like critical illness insurance and income protection insurance, which can protect employees who have to be off work due to long-term illness.

Fitness schemes

Schemes that promote exercise and fitness such as bike to work schemes or exercise classes can help encourage employees to be more active. Exercise has proven to have a positive impact on employees’ moods and morale, boosting their productivity and concentration at work. Such schemes are incentives to help employees live a healthier and happier life.

Wellbeing and mental health events

Realising that the wellbeing of your employees is significant can be the turning point in seeing increased productivity and employee retention. Arranging wellbeing and mental health events such as talks or speeches by professionals, as well as question and answer (Q&A) sessions, are great ways to cultivate a work culture that supports open discussion of mental health.

It may also be worth outsourcing mental health professionals who your employees can speak to during office hours if they are experiencing mental health issues at work or organising ways in which employees can book therapy or counselling sessions with them. This can lead to supportive and positive relationships between employees, and loyal relationships between employees and yourself.


With the inflation of prices in every industry, it is no wonder that employee discounts would be popular among your employees. Discounts on clothing or other brands, restaurants, even memberships to the gym or other facilities, are advantageous for employees trying to survive a cost-of-living crisis. We should still be able to enjoy ourselves (for improved wellbeing and mental health!) even despite the crisis.

Interesting Related Article: “Pay increases to slow down in UK to 1.8% from 2%, says new report