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Top 5 sustainable employee benefits

Benefits

Posted on: Wednesday February 23, 2022

by Julie Stayte, Chief People Officer

As the effects of climate change become more obvious in the world around us, we're seeing growing demand from employees for green employee benefits

As well as enabling employees to reduce their carbon footprint, a greener, cleaner employee benefits package shows that you’re translating your company’s ethos and values into practical actions, helping to boost employee engagement with your corporate purpose. It also helps demonstrate your commitment to ESG initiatives. 

So what are the top 5 sustainable employee benefits?

1.    Ethical pensions

More and more pension savers are asking where their funds are invested. Many employees are no longer just concerned about getting the best returns – they also want their money to be used in a way that helps society and the planet.

As an employer, you can choose to offer an ethical alternative. That could involve checking that your pension fund is not invested in carbon-intensive sectors, ensuring the company is not supporting industries that are significant contributors to climate change. Similarly, find out if your fund has a strong exclusion policy for controversial sectors such as tobacco, arms, or gambling.

You could take it one step further and shift to a fund which supports industries that actively make a difference when it comes to helping tackle climate change – for example, renewable energy and carbon capture technologies. 

2.    Electric company cars

It's not the right solution for everyone because the UK’s electric charging infrastructure is still patchy – but the situation is improving, so increasing numbers of companies are looking to switch their fleet to electric. 

The advantages include drastic lowering of CO2 emissions, the cost reductions on the car fleet (no more fuel costs, or at least significantly reduced fuel costs, along with lower maintenance bills), the positive driver advantages of lower benefit in kind taxation, and so on. 

Car salary sacrifice is simple to run and understand - your employees can choose to use some of their salary before it’s taxed in exchange for the use of a brand new car. If you're unsure about making the transition to electric, a fleet management partner can help you find the right solution and analyse costs vs. benefits for your business.

3.    Cycle to work

With a cycle to work scheme, employers can provide new bikes to staff via affordable monthly payments. Not only will you recover the full cost of the bike, you'll also generate a NIC saving up to 13.8% of its value. 

For eco-conscious employees, it’s a simple but very valuable benefit:

  • Financially inclusive - employees can get a bike 25-39% cheaper, while spreading the cost through a salary sacrifice scheme makes it even more affordable.
  • Saves CO2 – Swapping the car for walking or cycling to work even just one day a week makes a significant impact on personal carbon emissions in cities.
  • Mental and physical wellbeing – Regular cycling can help us maintain a healthy weight as well as supporting heart and lung health. Being active in the fresh air also has mental wellbeing benefits, so it’s a win-win. 

4.    Public transport subsidies

Commuting by train or bus will drastically cut carbon emissions, but the upfront costs of a season ticket make this unaffordable for some. 

Employers can help by offering interest-free loans. Most schemes work either by giving employees a cheque made out to the transport operator, or just deposit cash into their bank accounts. The employer then take the repayments from net salary in 10 or 12 monthly instalments.

And a few tweaks can make commuting by car more environmentally friendly: alongside investing in electric vehicles, employers can support carpooling incentives and rideshare schemes.

5.    Discounts at ethical retailers

Green perks could include adding more ethical brands to your employee discounts offer. Everyone likes to save money, and your employee benefits platform is a great way to connect eco-conscious consumers with brands that share their values.

When evaluating ethical retailers, look for those who pay their fair share of tax and address other ethical issues such as their carbon emissions, sustainable production methods, and the rights of workers in their supply chains. 

Many high-street stores take their ESG commitments seriously – ethicalconsumer.org highlights companies like Lush, WH Smith, John Lewis, The Co-Op and M&S. You could consider adding a sustainability rating on to your discounts platform so it’s easy for employees to make an informed choice.

It’s worth mentioning that communications are key. 

Some people will always find change challenging, even if they agree with the reasons behind it. To ensure maximum engagement with your new eco benefits offer, you could invest in sustainability workshops to get everyone onboard and engaged around what you’re trying to achieve as a business and as individuals.

Another starting point could be using your benefits platform to communicate great ESG work you’re already doing. Detail out how the company manages charitable giving, volunteering in the community or other CSR initiatives. Make sure to highlight why these causes in particular have been chosen – do they link with corporate values? Finally, include details on how employees can get involved, and a link to sign up for the next initiative.

Ready to talk about building a winning benefits offer at your organisation? You can call us on 01908 605000, email letschat@personalgroup.com or visit our employee benefits page for more information.

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