Posted: 13 Sep. 2021 5 min. read

Employee benefits and the race to net zero

Tess Williams, a Tax Partner in Deloitte’s Global Employer Services practice, explores the role that employee benefits can play in accelerating a business’s net zero ambitions.

As businesses begin to look forward and consider the transition into a post-pandemic world, we are witnessing increasing focus from employers and a strong desire from employees, to make a positive environmental and societal impact. One such observation is that both employers and employees are looking at how they can “build back greener” and ensure that accelerating action on climate change is a strategic priority.

Combined with increasing commitment from a range of organisations to achieving net-zero by 2030, an exciting opportunity is emerging in the space where the employer/employee relationship intersects most closely – employee reward –  specifically, how green employee benefits can provide a win-win for both employers and their workforce, whilst delivering a positive impact on the environment at the same time.

Add to this the change to when, how and where people work, and the rise of hybrid, remote or home working as the way forward post-pandemic, many employers are now reassessing their policies, including how they incentivise and reward their people.

Sustainable benefits - incentivising employees towards net zero

The pathway to a Net Zero future will be defined by the actions of the many and not the few. This is widely recognised and is the driving factor in workforces expressing their eagerness to do more personally but being excluded due to the cost, reliability of information or, accessibility of the solutions.

With employers now reassessing their policies and how they incentivise and reward their people, together with both organisational and workforce engagement to make a positive environment impact, the win-win opportunity of introducing sustainable employee benefits emerges.

That’s why, at Deloitte, we have been working with employers to understand and communicate the various options they can offer their employees. There are many and wide-ranging options open to businesses but one trend we are seeing is a move by employers to provide their employees with more choice.  These include:

  • Electric vehicles - an increasingly popular choice where employers can access generous government tax incentives in order to provide vehicles to employees at an accessible cost that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Employee take-up can be significant when coupled with the provision of charging facilities and knowledge sharing on the current 1% company car tax rate, the benefits of a salary sacrifice arrangement and no road tax or congestion fees.
  • Sustainable travel – introducing benefits and facilities which make it easier for employees to make sustainable travel and commuting choices. These can include discounted season tickets and loans for public transport, access to bikes at a reduced cost and complementary facilities at work (e.g. showers and lockers). Opportunities such as these should not be overlooked.
  • Provision of reliable information and discounted access to solutions that promote more sustainable homes, such as renewable energy tariffs, LED lightbulbs, home insulation and solar panels. These can mitigate the negative carbon impact of homeworking whilst also delivering cost savings for employees.

Why engaging employees on climate change matters

As you can see, there is much scope for business leaders to develop reward strategies to not only support but empower their employees on their individual sustainability journeys. Furthermore, your business needs your employees to be engaged around the delivery of your organisational ambitions on decarbonisation. By giving your employees the tools to reduce their personal carbon footprint, you can help normalise climate action whilst, at the same time, enjoy the benefits of greater employee engagement and loyalty.

Workforces are looking for a purposeful and responsible employer, including on the environment.  In our most recent Millennial Survey, climate action was the top concern amongst millennials and graduates, who said they expect their future employer to share these values.  In many sectors this is becoming increasingly important to employers as there is a need for both reward and sustainability strategies that align with the priorities of the prospective talent pool, both as a recruitment and a retention tool, especially where competition for skilled workers is particularly fierce.

Opportunity for businesses of all sizes

The key to providing green employee benefits, as with all actions on sustainability, is to start somewhere. By adapting to the shift in attitudes and empowering your workforce, businesses of all sizes can drive change, contribute to sustainability goals, and realise tangible benefits on the path to meeting net zero ambitions.

How we can help

In the South West & Wales, we have a team of 70+ specialists who provide an extensive range of services to help clients to successfully deploy and reward talent. We believe employers can make a real impact when they empower their people to affect personal change for a better, sustainable future.

In the South West & Wales, we have a team of 70+ specialists who provide an extensive range of services to help clients to successfully deploy and reward talent. We believe employers can make a real impact when they empower their people to affect personal change for a better, sustainable future.

Key contact

Theresa Williams

Theresa Williams

Partner

Tess leads our South West & Wales Global Mobility practice, and has over 20 years of experience advising clients with respect to the global mobility of their employees and executives. Tess works with clients ranging from small start-ups who are seeking to work in overseas markets for the first time, to large multinationals.