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How the employee benefits that overseas businesses use can be deployed in the UK

June 6, 2023

The need to retain talented staff has never been greater. Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation of 2021, businesses are recognising now more than ever before the importance of maintaining a happy workforce.

Typical employee benefits packages

Because managers understand the importance of job satisfaction, it is becoming commonplace for businesses across a wide range of industry sectors to offer flexible working, hybrid working patterns and even fully remote working in order to secure the appropriate experienced talent that they require to achieve their objectives.

All of these benefits are designed to satisfy the work-life balance requirements of the individuals that they employ and to maintain their wellbeing at work. Employee wellbeing encompasses the mental, physical and emotional health of a business's employees and enabling staff to achieve a healthy work-life balance can make a significant difference in all areas of their lives.

As part of an Employer Value Proposition (EVP), the right benefits packages can attract talented personnel to a business, and they can also keep them. Indeed, job hunters report that the soft benefits offered by an organisation often matter more to them than the salary on offer.

How UK benefits packages compare to those of our foreign neighbours.

To find out how British employers could do more to fill their vacancies and further increase job satisfaction among their existing workforce, it is helpful to consider and learn lessons from the way in which other countries reward and motivate their staff.


France has had a standard 35-hour working week since 2000. Their government took another radical leap in 2016 when they last updated their labour laws.

By law, French workers who are employed by a business with more than 50 employees are not expected to check emails outside of business hours [1], and their employer cannot penalise them for not doing so.


Italy's standard working week is the same as in the UK - 40 hours. However, unlike British employees, Italian workers are expected to negotiate for the recompense and working conditions that they deserve.

Despite the focus on individual agreements, Italian workers' benefits are guaranteed as a result of legislation and collective agreements with worker's councils and trade unions [2].


Employee health and wellness are the primary priorities of most Japanese businesses [3]. Much as in the UK, the predominant way in which these priorities are demonstrated to staff is through the promotion of hybrid working patterns and rewarding staff for their contributions.


Although many American businesses offer employee benefit packages such as part-time work or free healthcare, this is not mandated by the government [4]. Instead, businesses can reward employees with benefits at their own discretion.

Where are the differences and why do they matter?

Having reviewed the employee wellness benefits on offer from a few different countries around the globe, it is clear that the UK's approach is broadly comparable. Where there is a significant difference is France. Their shorter working week and mandatory out-of-hours switch-off could make a huge difference to the mental health of employees in this country. Productivity and throughput can, paradoxically, increase with reduced contractual hours.

Studies performed in America have routinely demonstrated that employees who regularly check their business email outside of normal working hours are more stressed than those that don't [5]. Known as anticipatory stress, respondents reported feeling emotionally exhausted by the prospect of work arriving out of hours.

There is also an argument that regularly checking for new emails can distract workers from performing more important functions, so its use should be minimised in order to improve productivity [6].

These small steps can be easily implemented by most businesses in the UK, with managers leading by example, switching their business phones off as they leave the office or silencing email alerts when busy. By promoting a culture in which it is unnecessary to be contactable outside of normal working hours, staff can begin to relax and enjoy their downtime.


There are many employee benefit packages available and businesses that are seeking to recruit new staff, or retain existing talent would be wise to consider how they can improve their business culture in order to promote employee wellbeing in the workplace.

For help identifying and implementing an employee benefits program that is tailored to the needs of your business, please contact Terryberry today for a demonstration of how our tools and processes can help your business to achieve its objectives.









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