More than just the basic – employee benefits

Training and development has seen the greatest amount of change over the last 20 years as companies continually strive to engage and retain their employee talent. It has long been established that although salary remuneration is important in engaging and retaining employees, its general impact is deemed as short term when looking to continually motivate and ensure loyalty from your work force. We have attempted to cover off all of the different schemes and incentives we have seen organisations provide, bear in mind these are not in any particular order!



One of the main “carrots” used to motivate and encourage loyalty is via a bonus. From our studies, this is a percentage of salary ranging in value from 5% to 30% and is usually paid annually (although some companies pay quarterly). The employee is only eligible for the bonus after completing their probation period, with the majority of companies paying a prorata bonus based on tenure and start date. Bonuses can be paid based upon company performance, division/team performance, personal performance or a mixture of all three. When the bonus is paid annually and based on the previous year’s performance we have seen some companies pay this 4 months into the following year. This means the employee is already a third of the way into securing their next year’s bonus so find it trickier to leave based on this expected compensation. Lots of employees see it as an expected part of their income and if it isn’t paid then this is used as a reason for their discontent and subsequent search for new employment.

Share scheme

An equity or share scheme rewards the employee based on how the company performs. there are a variety of schemes dependent upon the size and status of the business concerned. Start-up businesses generally look to offer an element of equity to those that join at the start to incentivise ownership and loyalty to the organisation. These shares tend to be options, so generally cannot be traded until an “event” happens and are lost should the employee leave the organisation. US owned or larger UK organisations tend to be more inclined to offer a share scheme which commences upon joining with shares not being able to be sold until year 3 onwards. Other companies offer save as you earn schemes or the ability to buy stock at a discounted rate which can then be traded publicly. All offer the opportunity for the employee to take an additional income, but are mainly offered to create a sense of ownership, loyalty and to encourage individuals to do what is in the best interests of the business.

On call-allowance

Due to the nature of the work and based on an Engineers role, companies will offer an On-Call allowance which is paid when an individual is required to provide out of hours’ support, or be in a position to provide out of hours’ support.

Compensation varies from a flat rate per day/night/week to include an additional fee if the person is required to solve a ticket, for example. We have calculated that £125 per week is a good market average for on-call (more for weekend on-call) which would cover one week in four + £50 per call + £50 after the first 2 hours.

Utilisation bonus

A number of organisations, particularly those in the Partner space, have started paying a utilisation bonus to consultants based on their time on customer site. This fluctuates depending on their seniority and skillset but on average is £80 per day and is paid monthly in arrears. This is generally paid to Network Engineers and Senior Network Engineers who are working on implementations at customer site and encourages them to keep busy rather than sitting on the bench.

Company or car allowance

Although not as prevalent as previously due to tax implications, plenty of organisations still offer a company car or car allowance, particularly for Senior Network Engineers and above. The cars are usually a Vauxhall Insignia or similar and the allowance varies in value from £4,000 to £8,000 per annum, the average being £6,000 or £500 per month. Home based roles (Pre-Sales for example) nearly always attract a car allowance. Certain organisations will offer use of a company vehicle outside of work hours, particularly for those in positions such as Field Engineer or similar.


With Government legislation meaning that all organisations need to provide a pension to employees we have seen a big rise in the amount of interest taken in what an employer is prepared to contribute. As expected this fluctuates from company to company, averaging out at 6% from the employer. Some pay as low as 2%, however we have seen as much as 16% contribution from the employer in the banking sector, which is a big pull to a prospective employee plus helps retain them in the medium to long term.


Travel, in particular in London and the South East, is a big talking point when talented Engineers are looking at a prospective employer. Some season tickets to travel into London cost in excess of £6,000 per annum which is not only a huge financial burden but can also can really impact an individual’s work/life balance.

Simple solutions such as a season ticket advance can really make the difference when engaging and retaining talent.

Bike to work scheme

Other solutions we have seen are providing a parking space, incentivising car sharing and offering a bike to work scheme (depending on location). Some organisations, particularly larger ones with a national presence, still look to provide a London Weighting allowance for those commuting into town to help ease the burden of the cost, although we have seen this diminish increasingly over the last few years.

Flexible workhours

Flexibility around working hours is becoming a real draw when attracting and retaining talented Engineers.  This ranges from arriving early and leaving early or arriving late and then working later to make up the hours, to being able to work any times you wish as long as you complete a minimum of 40 hours in a week. This can mean that individuals “cram” their hours into 4 days hence reducing their time in the office, or they can alternatively commute out of core hours to reduce travel costs and/or childcare costs. Being provided with the ability to work from home is a big draw for a lot of people, even if this is only one day per week. We have seen organisations in London downsize their London offices to save on costs and increase their number of homeworkers which is considered a “win win” for both parties.


Corporate social responsibility for both employees and employers is proving more and more important to employee engagement. This goes far wider than just having a recycling policy and minimising environmental impact and should provide the employee with an opportunity to give back to their local area or to a charity which they hold dear. Fund raising days from baking cakes to wearing fancy dress through to running marathons and helping build schools in developing countries gives employees a real sense of togetherness and that their employer genuinely cares. This nutures a sense of good will with the employee and makes it less likely that they will consider leaving.


Similar to CSR perks are those which help an employee maintain a sense of well-being. We have seen your standard offerings such as free or discounted gym membership, health insurance (including spousal/ dependents) and health MOT’s right through to massage therapists in the office and yoga sessions! All these help promote a sense of empathy which shows that as an employer you are genuinely passionate about your employees health.

Days off

Taking this further is offering employee perks such as a day off for their birthday or if they do come to work making a fuss of them on their birthday with a cake, etc.! Duvet days’ work well as a perk which from our research are actually used very sparingly, people just like to know they have a day off with no questions asked in their back pocket! A dress down day surprisingly helps encourage people to socialise more and build relationships with their team mates (it’s not just a day where you don’t have to iron a shirt) as does a bring your children to work day or bring your dog to work day.

Break out area

Offering a break out area (particularly one outside as well if possible) encourages people to socialise and gives individuals the chance to get away from their desk and clear their heads. Coupling this with free food such as breakfast, tea, coffee, fruit, soft drinks and healthy (or not so healthy) snacks makes individuals feel valued.

Last year we had someone use the fact that they had to pay for tea and coffee from a vending machine as a reason for leaving their employer!

His opinion wasn’t driven by the personal cost to him (30p by the way), it was the fact that his employer valued profit margin so much more than his wellbeing that he didn’t want to “help continue lining the pockets of the Executives who held him in such low regard”. Clearly there were other reasons as to why he exited that business, but as the saying goes “small things make a big difference”. In real terms providing snacks and treats is extremely cost effective in comparison to offering salary increases.

Peer awards

Being valued by your employer and peers is a huge way to engage and retain talent in your business. Simple ideas like peer awards such as MVP (most valuable player), employer recognition awards, a Hall of Fame or Employee of the month award really do resonate well with a workforce. Coupling this with incentivised trips based on company performance or annual sales kick offs helps drive individuals, but also keeps them tied into the overall strategy of the business and where they sit as part of it. Knowing what their contribution means in the bigger picture gives people a real sense of purpose and motivation. This can also be tied into things like summer fun days, summer sports days, team bonding days or away days to enhance the sense of team and community.


Training tends to be one of the biggest drivers for employees in the Networking space. An organisation which is committed to a training and development plan, with clear structure and investment from the employer, really helps attract and retain talented Engineers. Some organisations will pay an incremental increase on salary based upon the employee passing certain certifications such as CCNP, JNCIP, CCIE, etc. This is particularly relevant in the partner, vendor and ISP space but less prominent with end users. Nearly all employee contracts contain a clause stating that if the employee leaves within a certain amount of time after achieving the certification then the costs need to be paid back. This is usually tiered, so the longer the qualification takes to secure e.g. CCIE, the longer the clause is effective for.


Being able to send your Engineers to Vendor events to support this, such as Cisco Live, creates huge buy-in and demonstrates that you really value their development. For most Networking Engineers, gaining certifications carries a real sense of accomplishment and achievement with it. If you consider that there are only circa 53,000 individuals globally who are CCIE certified, they can truly say they are only one of a handful of people in the world if they pass the lab exam.

Training and development

To help with training and development some companies provide their employee with the opportunity to spend time purely focusing on self-development during their working week. This is usually half a day to a day per month and is tied into personal development plans generally focusing on technical certifications or industry standards (ITIL, CISSP, etc.). Some individuals do use this for personal development, such as an MBA, particularly if they are in a management role, so focusing on management techniques, team building, etc. Clearly undertaking a certification like the CCIE/JNCIE is a huge commitment and will require employer support, but if provided it engenders a huge amount of loyalty and buy-in from the employee.

In a lot of instances, a new employee will be provided with a laptop and or mobile phone when they commence their employment. Interestingly this also proved to be either a real motivator or a bone of contention when someone joined a new business.

Company phone/laptop

Having a choice around the mobile phone or laptop they were given made people feel a sense of engagement straight away, as did a brand spanking new phone and or laptop. Big turn offs were kit that they didn’t particularly want or had a say in choosing and a huge bugbear was receiving second hand equipment, particularly mobiles which continuously received calls from friends of the previous incumbent! Obviously providing brand new kit to every single employee can get expensive very quickly, but as mentioned previously “small things make a difference”. Imagine paying a Pre-Sales Consultant £65,000 + perks on top but then trying to save a couple of hundred pounds providing them with a mobile they didn’t especially want…


Lastly, some organisations offer a Flexi-package to include insurance cover for mobile phone, tech equipment, RAC membership, travel insurance, white goods cover, etc. This type of cover is relatively cheap to purchase but provides a wide range of benefits to the employee.

Interested in finding out more about engaging and retaining talent? Download our Networking and Security report for more information.