Eden’s Tom Guilfoyle on how remuneration is no longer always about the money

The banking and finance sectors are booming. Skilled financial staff have never been in greater demand, and employers are falling over each other to lure and retain the right people in this tight labour market. Differentiating their remuneration packages is one way to do this.

The result is an ever-growing range of benefits in addition to one’s core salary. Some are tax-efficient means of upping that salary, but others are a recognition that – even in banking – it’s not always all about the money.

Thinking beyond the office

What is especially interesting is how quickly a relatively conservative sector has embraced a benefit that had been rolled out in the evolving IT sector years previously – remote working.  What’s more, this benefit is not the preserve of working parents, but is equally open to millennials keen to attain that elusive work-life balance. This is the employer mirroring a belief among younger workers that money can’t buy everything and using technology to overcome the potential security risk inherent in working for a financial institution from the comfort of your living room.

It is, of course, also an acknowledgement of how commuting carries both a financial and psychological cost to employees. The harsh winter we experienced earlier this year will only have prompted more to embrace this new way of working. For those who continue to travel to work, we are seeing more employers covering travel costs through fully subsidised travel cards.

Tapping into what really matters

Back to that trade-off between time and money.  Giving employees a day off to move house is becoming more commonplace. Some of my clients will also offer a full week off for you to tie the knot. Here the employer is tapping into what matters in the life of the employee and rewarding them on their terms. It is an empathetic approach likely to raise loyalty and commitment in a way that a few extra dollars cannot. I recently recruited a team of staff for a financial institution that was offering a mortgage supplement to those with several years’ service – securing a home is uppermost among many employees’ frustrations and here is a bank recognising this. Some employers are also offering paternity leave irrespective of number of years’ service – lots of goodwill to be created there!

Hard-cash bonuses do still prevail, but increasingly we are seeing them linked to company-wide or department-wide KPIs rather than individual performance. Health insurance – extended to spouses and children – has become an expectation within the sector. Company cars have been replaced in large part by car allowances, irrespective of whether you have a car or not.

A more appetising workplace

Benefits packages and working environments are not always easily separated. Take the emphasis being placed on canteens, for example. It’s no longer just about subsidised food, it’s about really nice food (note to employers: word gets around and you would be surprised at how aware young candidates are of the quality of meals in your canteen!) Onsite gyms, games rooms, music rooms … all have a part to play in attracting and retaining staff. Not to mention a traditional Irish pub – a US multinational recently opened one in the heart of their offices in Dublin city centre.

As ever, as packages evolve, it becomes harder to develop fresh benefits that help set you apart from rival employers.   Yet I believe they are here to stay. Ultimately, money doesn’t buy you loyalty. Showing you are in touch with what’s important to your employees, on the other hand, does. That means being a leader rather than a follower when it comes to your employee benefits.

Tom Guilfoyle is Professional Services Recruitment Manager at Eden Recruitment.