What are the UK’s most desirable job benefits?

byLes Roberts on August 10th 2022

From flexible working to private health care plans and early finish Fridays, the employee benefits that companies can provide can play a big part in their success.

To find out how to keep employees engaged within their role, the experts at Bionic surveyed 1,000 employees across the UK to find out which benefits they felt their employers should be offering them. 

In addition, job market data from Indeed was then analysed to decipher which job perks were being included in job descriptions most frequently and how different industries were offering different job perks.

But, with so many job benefits to entice potential hires and keep employees happy, which ones are employers actually offering? 

What are the most desired perks in 2022?

Perks Desired Most By EmployeesPercentage
Flexible working51.40%
Birthday off work30.00%
Private healthcare plan27.60%
Free office snacks and tea/coffee25.80%
A performance bonus23.70%
Mental health support - free counselling, duvet days22.20%
Casual office dress code21.90%
Early finish Fridays21.90%
Discounts (at shops, restaurants etc.)21.60%
Unlimited days off19.80%
Private dental care plan18.30%
Free office parking17.70%
Subsidised or free gym membership17.10%
Pizza Fridays12.60%
Tech scheme for discounted laptops, mobile phones, etc.12.60%
Free financial advice11.70%
Team days out and social activities10.80%
Charity days10.20%
Office yoga7.80%
Employee of the month7.50%
Dog-friendly office6.90%
The ability to buy more days off6.60%
Childcare vouchers6.30%
Pawternity - time off to look after your dog5.70%
Student loan down payments5.10%
Commission5.10%
Company car4.80%
Cycle-to-work scheme3.90%

Flexible and remote working

Unsurprisingly, flexible and remote working is here to stay with over half of all participating employees voting flexible working as the most sought-after employee benefit. 

By comparison, just 10% of people voted team days out and social activities as an important perk, suggesting that the UK workforce is moving away from wanting regular in-person events with our colleagues.

Birthdays off

We all love to have our birthdays off to celebrate the big day and the data proves just how much this means to us. It was voted more important than having private healthcare and mental health support. It also surpassed financial benefits like bonuses, discounts and free financial advice.

Early finishes

Early finishes and unlimited days off were also among some of the most popular perks, suggesting that having time away from our work is extremely valued – even more so than financial support, childcare support or, in some cases, flexible working. 

However, as it stands, only 3% of jobs sampled advertised perks like early finishes, and only 10% advertised having your birthday off work.

Office parking and cycle-to-work schemes

In a bid to become more sustainable, many companies now offer cycle-to-work schemes to get their employees to make a conscious effort to think about their health and the environment. 

However, the cycle-to-work scheme was the least important perk to employees, with just 4% choosing it despite it being the most offered perk on Indeed. Instead, having free office car parking was a far more popular option (17%).

This suggests that while businesses are trying to make efforts to introduce sustainable methods of travelling to work, employees don't consider sustainable travel a priority. 

Health benefits

A sought-after favourite among employees was health benefits. These ranged from private healthcare to dental and mental health support. Another top perk that employees wanted was a subsidised or free gym membership, with 17% voting for this as a desired perk. 

Free office snacks

Despite there being controversy online around free tea and coffee being too insufficient to be called a ‘perk’, it was the 4th most popular perk overall in the survey.

On average, employees care more about free office food, drink and snacks than they did about charity days, casual dress codes and financial support. 

Financial aid

Although people were less enthused by free financial advice and student loan down payments, nearly ¼ of all employees surveyed were excited by the idea of a performance bonus. 

This begs the question: do people care more about immediate cash in their pocket than long-term financial solutions?

Discounts

By far the most popular job perk advertised on Indeed, 45% of all sampled job descriptions offered some sort of employee discount benefit — whether this was an online portal for discounts at a wide range of stores, or discounts from the company that’s advertising the job. 

On average, we found that one in five employees said that discounts were their most highly prioritised job perk. 

What UK job perks are offered the most?

Let's now take a look at which perks UK businesses are offering their employees compared to the most desirable perks.

Graph showing the most popular job perks against those perks actually offered by employers

Cycle-to-work schemes are the most popular work benefit - offered in 72,000 jobs, but it's a perk that only 4% of employees actually say is their most preferred option. Free office parking is next, which is offered with 55,000 jobs but the preferred option of just 17% of workers.

Money is always a good incentive, and a performance bonus is preferred by almost a quarter of employees (24%) and is offered in 53,000 roles.

Flexible working came out as the most desirable benefit, with more than half (51%) of workers saying they'd prefer home or remote working over any other perk. And this is one that a lot of employers are now offering, with 52,000 letting employees work away from the office.  

The most popular perks by region

Offering a great employee benefits package has been proven to increase staff loyalty, but how do the most popular perks look across the country? 

RegionPerkPercentage
North WestFlexible Working 67%
North EastUnlimited days off69%
West MidlandsFlexible Working 63%
East MidlandsFlexible Working 64%
South EastBirthday off work44%
South WestFlexible Working 72%
EastBirthday off work54%
LondonFlexible Working 49%
Yorkshire and the HumberFlexible Working 43%
Northern IrelandFlexible Working 58%
ScotlandFlexible Working 47%
WalesFlexible Working 58%

Well, Scotland was the only location in the UK that had pawternity among their top priorities in the office, coming in at 4th overall. Nearly a third of all employees based in Scotland stated they wanted time off to look after their pooches or new furry friends. This was more popular for Scots than having their birthdays off or opting for an early finish Friday, which was significantly more important to people in other regions of the UK. 

We can see that it’s not just the Scots who prioritise pet-related perks, as the North East had dog-friendly offices among their top needs (22%), as did Yorkshire and the Humber at 27%. After all, who wouldn’t want to have their furry friends with them during the working week?

If you’ve got big plans for your birthday and want to take the day off, you might want to look towards the East of England as over half (54%) believe that having your birthday off work was the most important perk. This scored higher in the East than flexible working hours, which was a respectable 45%. 

A map of the UK showing the most popular job perks in each region.

In comparison, the South East voted to have your birthday off work as the most important (44%) and they also preferred getting employee discounts (38%) over being able to work flexibly (34%). 

In the North East of England, more than 2/3 voted that having unlimited days off work is their most important perk (69%). It’s becoming even more apparent how much employees value their free time — whether it’s spending time with friends and family or catching up on their daily life chores. 

Besides the East, South West and North East of England, every other UK region voted flexible working as its number one perk. In the South West, it received an impressive 72% of all votes for the most important work benefit.

In comparison, London favoured an early finish on a Friday with it being the second-most important work perk — with flexible working coming out on top — with a staggering 41% of surveyed employees agreeing to this. This could be down to the fast-paced working lifestyle of London, where having more time away from work is particularly valued. 

If you’re looking to buy more days off, Northern Ireland secured this as their second most popular perk with 33% of survey employees voting for this. 

The most popular job perks by industry

There are all sorts of factors to consider when it comes to finding a job in the industry that’s right for you. But, what perks are being offered and valued in each?

Bar graph showing the most popular job perks by industry

We’ve discovered that flexible working is the perk that employees most want out of a job, and it’s clear that employers are adapting to meet the demand with the energy (36%) hospitality (35%) and arts & culture (35%) sectors offering it most often as a benefit. However, it’s worth noting that the definition of ‘flexible working’ might vary depending on the industry.

According to Indeed job data, the Technology sector is the best industry for the cycle-to-work scheme (56%) as well as receiving a company laptop. Marketing (34%) and Manufacturing (26%) are swiftly behind supporting the cycle-to-work scheme. 

In comparison, some of the main benefits that retail workers saw were free car parking and impressive discounts (95%), which saw similar discounts perks in the Hospitality sector (78%). 

With many getting fit in lockdown, it’s clear that this healthy lifestyle is here to stay. Education is the best industry for subsidised or free gym memberships (30%) with Arts & Culture (21%) and Marketing (16%) following suit. 

Gone are the days of a signed card and bringing in a birthday cake for all to share. Instead, many companies now offer employees their birthdays off work. The Arts & Culture sector favoured this the most at 20% with Marketing (16%) and Technology (14%) stating this, too.

The UK’s most desirable job benefits

The headline finding from this survey is that employees value the benefits that are offered to them by their employers. The most important findings include:

  • Flexible working is the UK’s most highly regarded work perk
  • The energy sector offers the greatest number of work benefits
  • Dog-friendly offices and free tea and coffee are the least popular perks
  • The cycle-to-work scheme is the most popular perk offered by jobs on Indeed, but is far less popular among employees

If your business needs a leg up, then the experts at Bionic can help. Compare all of your business essentials — including energy, connectivity, insurance and finance — and see where Bionic can take you.