How has 2017 shaped employee benefits? We spoke to James Malia, Director of Employee Benefits at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services to give his thoughts so far as we approach September. Employee benefits, whether a cycle to work scheme, gym membership or car scheme are more important than ever when attracting and retaining staff. This year has continued to shape how benefits are delivered and what continues to appeal to staff. Here are his stand out moments.
The government’s ripple effect
“Recent government changes have led many companies to reevaluate the benefits they offer. The salary sacrifice scheme has been reviewed to ensure businesses are paying a fair amount of tax, with only childcare vouchers, cycle to work schemes, ULE car schemes and pensions still receiving the same financial advantages. This has not stopped salary sacrifice schemes from being used however. Instead, many businesses have taken this development as a chance to review which benefits are working for their employees and make changes accordingly. Despite alterations to salary sacrifice schemes, employers are still looking to offer the benefits their employees want.”
Acknowledging the gig-economy
“What exactly employees want changes depending on various factors. In the pursuit for flexible working, the gig economy has gathered pace as more and more people are in pursuit of an independent working life. For businesses wanting to retain talent, it has been important to promote a stronger focus on the employee’s personal life and social responsibilities, giving staff the ability to regain independence without changing their employment status.”
Delivering for the LGBTQ community
“Thankfully, 2017 has been another year when employers haven’t just spoken about LGBTQ benefits, they’ve acted on it. The recent news that gay couples now have equal access pension rights – allowing both partners to be given the excess funds should their spouse die – has been a major boost to inclusivity in the workplace. In the same way, large businesses like Pinterest have now promoted surrogacy leave for their staff, providing the same benefits as those with maternity leave.”
Accessible virtual reality
“New technological innovations have created both practical and social changes to the way benefits are delivered. VR innovations have opened unique opportunities that staff can invest their training budget into. This technology also shows signs of making remote working an industry standard as staff can attend meetings or events from the comfort of their home.
However, VR also reflects a deeper social change. Virtual reality has enabled a ‘try-before-you-by’ mentality, whereby people can have a simulated experience before committing themselves to the real thing. Employers need to consider how this change will affect their company and provide opportunities for benefits to be trialed before staff commit.”

Strength in Snapchat
“In other tech trends, Snapchat continues to boom and companies have caught on. By creating bespoke Snapchat filters for company away days and events or for staff to share their rewards, employee engagement will peak and create more of a buzz. Companies looking to go an extra step have even invested in Snapchat spectacles, presenting a ‘day-in-the-life’ view of their business.
Quality of life, personalisation, and digital innovations have led the way in 2017 and forward-thinking companies have already identified and adopted benefits and communication techniques that reflect these trends.”


With many thanks to James for an interesting and insightful article. Please visit for more details on the UK’s leading experts in employee and consumer engagement.

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