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How Employee Benefits Improve Quality of Life and Promote Companies

In order to position themselves as an attractive employer globally, companies can no longer solely rely on offering competitive salaries. They now have to think about offering their employees other benefits too. The structure of said benefits is important because it can give the impression that the company fosters diversity in its corporate culture. According to Europe’s largest employer rating platform, kununu, employees would waive an average 11% of their salaries in return for attractive workplace benefits. Dr. Sarah Müller, a member of the kununu Management Team, shares advice about how companies can react to this new development.

Employees today have far more demands of their work environments than ever before. To be a contender in the so-called "War for Talent" being waged by companies in the face of skill shortages, companies have to strengthen their own employer branding efforts, in order to appear as attractive an employer as possible. This forces them to listen to and react to the wishes of their own employees in order to retain their talent. High up on the employees’ wish list are benefits.

A Good Salary Is No Longer Enough

In the context of work, benefits are added extras that an employer offers their employees. These additional benefits are becoming more and more important in the overall compensation strategies of companies. They are part of the corporate culture and are aimed at increasing both the retention and motivation of employees and presenting the company as an attractive place to work, of course.

Concrete data about the value of these benefits did not exist before now. But this gap has now been filled thanks to a new study conducted by kununu.com and personnel and management consulting firm — Kienbaum. The results of this study are based on responses from more than 130 HR managers who are responsible for more than 390,000 employees. Furthermore, as Europe’s largest employer rating platform, kununu.com has also contributed data for a further 11,000 employers, from the reviews on its database.

A Pay Cut of Up To 13%? Sure

The data provided in this study, shows that employees are looking for an attractive package of benefits and for these, they’re willing to take a small cut in their salary. More specifically, employees aged 18 to 29 would be willing to take an average cut of 13.4% of their wages. For starting salaries, which range from 1,000 to 2,000 euros per month, this is a significant amount. Also, experienced workers who are over the age of 40, and more likely to be in the upper salary classes of over 3,000 euros per month, are willing to take a cut of around 11%. The bottom line is that it’s surprising just how much income employees would be willing to do without, and that employees of different ages and work experience share this feeling.

More Flexibility in the Private Sector

Among the top benefits for both employers and employees are occupational pensions, home office, private internet, cell phones, parking lots, staff events, and coaching and healthcare initiatives. These benefits are very attractive and many companies are actively offering them already.

As a result, employees want to work in a company that has a down-to-earth attitude, which means that those employers that give their employees more freedom and a better work-life balance are the most attractive. It makes sense then, that flexible working hours are the most important thing for 75% of employees.

The Changing Definition of Family

Flexible working hours are becoming increasingly more important, especially as the idea of family is changing. Family is no longer a term reserved for nuclear households  it now also includes same-sex couples, single parents, family teams and the many people who look after relatives alongside their day-to-day work. All of these family situations have to be considered equally when developing the right selection of benefits. 

At kununu, we have taken these new developments on board and offer our colleagues flexible working hours and the opportunity to work from home whenever they need to. This requires a lot of trust, but I have never been disappointed.

More Global Talent Mobility Benefits

What the data available to us also shows is that due to globalization, concentration into cities and economic change, highly qualified teams are increasingly international in their make-up, but these international employees in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have received relatively few benefits from their employers that suit their needs and environment to date. So additional benefits, in particular those that allow for increased mobility, are by no means obvious and more than one solution is needed with company cars, company bikes, or monthly travel passes.

There is a need to catch up with relocation benefits, for example, to assist employees and their families in the event of a move, whether domestically or abroad  such offers are far from comprehensive. I mean, employers could significantly increase their attractiveness for this target group if they took the needs of international employees and their life partners into account and offered benefits with these in mind.

Development and Promotion

Another aspect that has been neglected but is becoming more and more important in times of digitization, is sufficient training. In the ranking of all 13 categories, in which a company can be rated on kununu.com, further training ranks in 12th place, with an average rating of 3.36 out of 5 possible points.

This coincides with a recent survey undertaken by the Trend Index, that shows that the options to take further training lag well behind the expectations of the employees. A mere 16% of companies award their employees grades 1 or 2 for further education programs, and only a fifth of workers in Germany think that their employer offers appropriate training, which shows the need for this study.

Employers Should Encourage Curiosity

Curiosity undoubtedly cranks up the innovative power in the office, but the reality is that our hectic workdays hardly allow any time for learning new skills or gaining insights into new topics. With offers for further training and courses, employers can prove to their employees that their professional development is just as important to them as their personal development. And companies benefit from curious employees as they can break new ground with their new skills.

There are a number of different further training opportunities on offer, from e-learning platforms, to evening classes and workshops, to taster courses led by employees. The latter is also a great opportunity to discover hidden talents and to promote cohesion in the team.

Whether it’s language courses for expat colleagues who have moved to Vienna from abroad, courses for working students to help them better support us in the office, external workshops, specialist conferences, or expert conferences, the further education on offer at kununu is diverse. We also actively encourage our employees to come up with their own ideas and suggestions.

Seeing Eye to Eye

Many employers are very creative in the selection of benefits that they offer their employees. However, these benefits do not always match the wishes of the employees. In order to offer benefits that really meet employee needs, my advice is to develop these through a dialogue with them and check regularly to see how well these match up to their needs and how well they’ve been accepted so that you can make adjustments if and where needed.


Dr Sarah_Müller_kununuAbout the Author: Dr. Sarah Müller is convinced that digitization is changing the expectations employees have of their employers and that companies have to adapt to this new world of work. Born in Cologne, she now lives in Vienna and is a member of the kununu Management Team. With more than 3 million reviews of over 800,000 companies, kununu.com is the leading employer-rating platform in Europe.

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