Employers recognise that they must do more than pay market rate salaries in order to attract and retain staff, according new research from OfficeTeam, a leading recruitment consultancy specialising in administrative and office professionals. With continued pressure on company finances, more firms are turning to non-monetary benefits to improve their employer brand and to attract and retain the best talent.

The research reveals that 84% of HR directors have already implemented at least one measure to help improve the workplace environment, with flexible working hours topping the list. More than six in ten (61%) HR directors surveyed have implemented flexible working times in order to improve their employees’ work-life balance, while only 11% expect that their firm will increase employee remuneration. Over half of companies surveyed will be taking further steps to improve their work environment and to enhance their brands over the next 12 months.

The trend for flexible and remote working looks set to continue over the next 12 months with 73% of businesses surveyed offering some form of flexible working and 48% looking to offer remote / telecommuting options.

Phil Booth, director for OfficeTeam’s UK operations, said, “Gone are the days where the pay cheque is the sole driver of employee satisfaction. To attract and retain the best talent, companies need to offer a positive working environment that supports the needs of a modern workforce. The rising costs of commuting and housing, coupled with concerns about the environment and the difficulties of juggling work and family mean that for many employees, these non-financial factors are increasingly important.”

Green and environmental policies to improve the workplace are also rising up the agenda, with 65% of HR directors surveyed saying that they plan to develop these within the next 12 months. The fact these policies are being driven from HR teams, rather than corporate social responsibility (CSR) or finance departments, suggests that a businesses’ green credentials are becoming increasingly important to employees and are a key factor in engagement, recruitment and retention.

Human Resources Directors were asked, “Has your company implemented any of the following initiatives to improve the current working environment?” Their responses:

Flexible working hours 61%
Green / environmental office policies 54%
Telecommuting / remote working 34%
Personal / professional development programme 31%
Mentorship programme 13%
None of these 16%

Large and publicly listed businesses are leading the way in terms of workplace improvements, with 86% of large companies and 75% of publicly listed organisations having introduced flexible working compared to only 48% of small companies.
Businesses in the capital also appear to be the most forward thinking on workplace improvements with nearly eight in 10 (78%) offering flexible working in London compared to 49% in the South East and 53% in Northern England.
Of the initiatives planned for the next 12 months, companies in London were most likely to be investing in increased benefits packages; Northern and Scottish companies are focused on remote working while in the Midlands environmental policies were top of the list.