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Work-life balance – Jargon buster

Employee benefits

  • Business and/or life coaching – the employer offers support from a trained mentor, normally based outside the firm, either over the phone or face-to-face. The employee has regular sessions with their coach who advises on issues relating to business and personal goals.
  • Childcare vouchers – these vouchers, given, sold by employers to parents at a reduced cost or substituted for a part of salary, enable working parents to save money on childcare. As such, they are a good way of encouraging staff retention, particularly among women returning from maternity leave. The Government does not expect employers to pay National Insurance on the vouchers thus enabling them to pass the 10% saving on to their employees. Parents can buy each £10 voucher for £9 and can then spend the vouchers on any form of legal childcare, including childminders, nurseries, nannies, family relatives and out-of-school schemes for the over 5’s.
  • Company fitness centre – this is a gym or health club either owned by or outsourced by a company for use by employees. The gym is usually based on-site.
  • Concierge services / Lifestyle management services – the employer buys in the services of a company that assists employees in managing their busy home lives by doing time-consuming tasks for them. Tasks can range from dog walking to sourcing emergency childcare or organising a wedding. The cost varies according to the level of service; at the highest level, concierge companies will find you a private jet for hire within 24 hours.
  • Employee assistance programmes – these organisations offer a mix of counselling, concierge services and information on everything from finding schools to help with bereavement. Employers pay a subscription so that employees can phone for help at any time of the day or night. Employee assistance programmes also help businesses understand what their employees’ key stressors are so that they can address the root causes.
  • Flexible benefits – employees are offered a raft of benefits from which they can choose those that suit their circumstances and are appropriate to their life stage. This may mean that an employee can buy more holiday days, increase their healthcare benefits, or buy leisure or retail vouchers at a reduced rate. Employees decide which benefits they want on an annual basis and those benefits then remain in force for a year.
  • Improved maternity provisions – provisions provided by the employer that are in excess of the statutory minimum. Examples include higher pay whilst on maternity leave or offering a ‘returnee’s bonus’.
  • In-house occupational health provisions – the provision of work-related health facilities enabling employees to have medicals (either prior to recruitment or on request), health checks and get advice on health issues.
  • On-site childcare facilities / On-site crèche – the employer has a nursery or crèche at the place of employment for staff with children. Such facilities reduce time travelling to and from work, since parents don’t have to drop off and pick up their children elsewhere, and employees can visit their children at lunchtimes. Crèches and nurseries save time and reduce anxiety in case of illness or emergencies.
  • Mentoring – the employer provides personal coaching from a trained mentor, who is either an employee or from an outside firm, to support the employee with career-related issues.
  • Private healthcare benefits – the employer buys in healthcare services from a private healthcare firm, to enable employees to receive free healthcare benefits, or benefits at a reduced cost.
  • Subsidised healthcare or complementary therapies – the employer offers therapies, such as massage or osteopathy, at a reduced cost to employees. The therapist usually visits the workplace once or twice a week.

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