Job Benefits – Good, Bad or Downright Ugly

by | 02.09.22

Benefits – a word that conjures up a variety of images – usually good but sometimes totally useless. You’ve always been happy with your 20 days holiday, lovely staff kitchen and free parking but when you see a job advertised saying “exceptional benefits” it always looks attractive – but is it? Let’s investigate…

Working from home

You think this means if I don’t feel like working I won’t. What it really means is your boss trusts you, they believe you can work on your own and don’t need to be micromanaged, however they still expect the work to be done. Yes you have the flexibility to do your shopping midday or take the kids to school but you do have to do the work expected from you. Furthermore many employers will put a tracker on your computer so they can actually see whether you are working or not so often you have big brother spying on you. Maybe this is not such a wonderful benefit.

Hybrid Working

You think this means you can work in the office when you want to and work from home when it suits you. Well it doesn’t, most employers will have a set pattern of days they want you to work in the office and set days when you can work at home. These days are not always set in stone and often employers will vary them according to business needs. Also remember the work you do at home will be closely monitored so there is no laying in bed for you. Maybe this benefit isn’t as good as it seems.

Flexible hours

Fabulous you think, that means I can start at 11:00am and work till 7pm if I want, or I can squeeze two days into one by working from 6:00am till 10:00pm and not work tomorrow. Unfortunately it usually doesn’t work like this, most employers want you to work five days a week between 8:00am and 7:00pm, there usually isn’t the flexibility you think there is. So is this a wonderful benefit? Not really…

Zero Hour Contract

This looks very attractive, work when you want to, don’t work when you don’t want to. What it really means is you are not guaranteed any work at all. The employer will call you into work when they need you, if they don’t need you there is no pay. You also have no employment rights. Furthermore if you are not available when you are needed for work there is a good chance you won’t be called again. This really is not a good benefit at all and jobs like this should be avoided if possible.

Group Pension Scheme

A workplace pension with a minimum employee and employer contributions is now mandatory in the UK but some companies offer Group pensions. This sounds wonderful as it means you will get a huge pension when you retire but if you are only 21 retirement seems a long time away. Also if you live on a budget the contributions are usually quite large and you may not want to spend your money this way at the moment. So whilst a lovely pension seems like a dream, it is only a good benefit if the time is right.

Private Health Care

Currently the NHS has huge waiting lists for treatment so private health care seems like a wonderful benefit and so it is if you are poorly. But if you are in good health and never use it why have it. Furthermore many employers will ask you to contribute to it, thereby reducing what should be in your wage packet. Remember when you are offered this perk you will be paying NI contributions because everyone does and this should really pay for any medical needs you have. So is this really a good benefit – not necessarily for everyone.

Bike 2 Work Scheme

Cycling has many benefits, from improving your health and fitness to increasing energy and positivity. Not to mention reducing environmental pollution. You get to save up to 48.25% on the price of a new bike. This sounds excellent but think about it you still have to come up with 51.75% of the cost, in addition to this have you ridden a bike in the rush hour? There is a real risk you could be killed! Furthermore the biggest winner is your employer who saves up to 15.05% on employer NI contributions. Maybe this isn’t such a great perk after all.

Corporate Gym Membership

Some employers offer their staff discounted gym membership packages. Basically the employer has been able to negotiate with a local gym or Leisure Centre to secure discounted memberships which they can pass on to you. This can be up to 20% – 30% cheaper than the normal price. But is this really good value. You may still have to pay the remaining percentage due on a monthly basis and you may not even use the facilities. So unless you are a gym bunny this benefit may not be as attractive as you think.

Free food for lunch and a games room

You think this means everyday is a party but what it really means is you are not encouraged to go out at lunchtime. Grab something to eat from the sandwiches and fruit that’s been supplied, have a quick game of ping-pong then get back to work. It’s a good morale booster to have free lunch and be able to use a games room but its win, win, win for your employer – employees who have short lunch breaks, work longer and are therefore more productive. Not such a great perk is it? On top of that who wants sandwiches every day?

Open management policy

What you think this means is “I can say what I want, I can be as open as I choose to be”. What it really means is the boss wants to know what you are thinking, they want to see how creative you are, what ideas you come up with or how committed to the Company you are. What it doesn’t mean is every time your colleague annoys you, or you’ve had a bad day or your cat has died the boss wants you in their office chewing their ear off. Depending on your personality an open management policy could be very dangerous particularly if you like to speak your mind. Calling your boss an idiot is never going to go down well. Perhaps this really is not a benefit to lust after.

Finally the moral of this message is benefits aren’t always as they appear so when job searching concentrate on getting the right job not on what you can get out of a job. There is an old saying “all that glitters is not gold”

Happy job search!

Angela Burton