Unique Vacations UK (UVUK) is the UK sales and marketing representative for holiday firm Sandals and Beaches Resorts. The team, which comprises 48 employees, works closely with its sister firm Unique Caribbean Holidays (UCHL), which is the UK tour operator for Sandals and Beaches Resorts and employs 47 workers.
In December 2022, UVUK and UCHL enhanced their parental leave policies to eight weeks at full pay for expectant mothers and fathers, for births or adoptions.
In addition, the organisations increased sick pay entitlement to six days and reduced the eligibility period required to purchase holidays at Sandals and Beaches Resorts’ concessionary rate from a year’s service to six months. UVUK and UCHL now also provide all employees with a £1,500 annual training budget and have changed employee assistance programme providers to offer more mental health and wellbeing support.
These benefits changes came in at a higher cost to the business financially, explains Tiggy Bonham-Blake, HR manager UK and Europe at Unique Vacations UK. However, these were made because the businesses strongly feel that their staff are worth investing in.
“Our employees are at the heart of everything we do, and we are always looking at ways to enhance our employer value proposition,” she says. “It is vital to keep all elements of your employer value proposition fresh and relevant if you want to retain and attract the best employees. The competition to find good staff is now more difficult than ever, so we want to ensure we hold onto our amazing team members for as long as possible, as well as attracting new talent.”
According to UVUK and UCHL, it is important to regularly review benefits and ensure they work for the organisation and its employees, as businesses change and develop constantly. Looking at what competitors or other employers based in the area are offering can provide a good benchmark.
When it comes to identifying where employers should draw a line with benefits provision, each employer should consider this on an individual basis, says Bonham-Blake.
“Handing out excessive benefits that aren’t fit for purpose is a waste of money,” she explains. “Our staff would rather be consulted on their individual needs so that we can work with them to improve our benefits offering and ensure it works for both them and our business. Employees appreciate the simplest of gestures if they have been well considered and executed. Something as simple as giving everyone a chocolate egg at Easter can make them feel valued and appreciated. It’s not all about spending money.”