Less pay, more play


Almost nine out of ten Britons are keen on the idea of trading part of their salary for more benefits, particularly greater time off, a new survey has revealed.

Almost six out of ten of those questioned by Aon Consulting said that they would be prepared to forgo some of their pay if they could have between three and six months unpaid leave, while being able to take a career break of more than six months was almost as popular a choice.

Four out of ten of the 900 people questioned said that subsidised alternative health treatments, such as massage, acupuncture and homeopathy, were also worth trading salary for, a figure that rose to half of the women taking part in the survey.

For one in three men, however, their dream was to persuade their firm to help them buy or lease a prestige sports car.

More mundanely, just over a third said they would like to be able to purchase theatre tickets at a discount through their company, while a similar proportion would take lower pay if their employer organised an ironing service for them.

Aon's Lisa Page said that the survey highlighted just how easily some imaginative ideas could help employers make a real difference to their staff and enhance their employer brand reputation at the same time.

"UK employees want a wide range of benefits relevant to the way they lead their lives," she said.

"Even more surprising is the fact that employees would be prepared to go as far as reducing their salary in order to pay for the benefits they really want."

A report earlier this year by The Work Foundation and Employee Benefits magazine revealed widespread discontent about benefits packages, with more than four out of ten employers saying that they were out of date. It also found that a mere one in seven employers offered flexible benefits.

But Lisa Page admitted that while flexible benefits packages were slowly catching on, the idea of lengthy career breaks was still one that most employers – and many employees - were very reluctant to explore.

"These people are happy to sacrifice some cash for time but employers are being very slow to do this. Many are sceptical about long leaves and career breaks and many staff are to frightened to come forward and ask for it," she said.