Voluntary benefits have changed rapidly over the past 15 years, as benefits that employees would have traditionally bought for themselves are now readily available through their workplaces. Kimberley Dondo reports

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There has been a change in what is included in workplace benefits, and also how they

are offered.

The traditional offerings may still be there, but the real growth has been in a different type of proposition – the voluntary benefit. These fall into two broad categories – extra benefits in a package that the employee may contribute towards, and a discount set-up where the individual receives some form of reward as a result of making a purchase.

The huge advantages of this type of benefit is that it offers massive choice for the staff member at a minimal cost to their employer.

We are rounding up what’s on the market in our six-part A – Z…

EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME

Employee assistance programmes support employees in dealing with personal problems that may have an adverse impact on their work, health or wellbeing. Depending on the level of cover that an employer selects, EAPs are free for the employees to use. EAPs are growing quickly as they work both economically and socially.

FLEXIBLE WORKING

Employees with a flexible work schedule have been proven to be far more productive and healthy. Flexible work schedules can help people meet family needs, personal obligations and other responsibilities more conveniently, and help increase their feeling of personal control over their work environment. All staff have the legal right to request flexible working.

GYM

Discounted or free gym membership is popular and helps to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Recently companies have reinvented the model by offering membership for classes at different gyms in different locations.

HEALTHCARE

The need for support with everyday healthcare costs has been increasing. Services like Health Shield’s voluntary corporate plan offer access to an online portal (mywellness) that allows members to have access to a virtual GP surgery, private prescriptions, 24/7 counselling and support helpline, online health assessments, cancer screening and physiotherapy triage.