Hangover leave: the future of employee benefits?

person with hangover
By Caroline Gammon | 29th August 2022 | 5 min read

Hangover, houseplant bereavement and break-up leave are all radical benefits some employers are considering offering in an attempt to recruit and retain people, according to recent news.

Before we get any further with this blog, let me cut to the chase: no, I don’t think these left-field initiatives will be the future of HR and employee benefits.

The war for talent is wreaking havoc, and something must be done, but ask yourself, would people truly commit to your business if you offered them perks such as hangover days?

While these superficial perks may provide some initial appeal – similar to when businesses relied on free snacks and pizza parties – they offer little in terms of long-term wellbeing and employee engagement.  

State of the current employment landscape  

It’s no surprise that recruitment pressure is on for employers as July was another record-breaking month, with the total number of active job adverts in the UK reaching 1.85 million.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation's (REC) Labour Market Tracker also found that open job adverts are taking longer to fill – a reflection of the ongoing skills shortage.

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Recruitment and retention: developing your proposition

What businesses offer needs to evolve to remain competitive, so I must commend those looking at these new employee benefits.

However, I urge employers to take a step back, review the current economic landscape/employee desires and base their approach on long-term strategies rather than short-term wins.

When building out your strategy, consider the following areas as a starting point:


We saw the rise of hybrid working during Covid, and frankly, everyone is sick of hearing about it at this point, myself included.

But an area worth exploring is workcations, which seems to be the natural evolution of hybrid working where people go somewhere other than their registered home address/office but continue to operate remotely from that new location.

To capitalise on this trend, consider policy changes such as increasing your company holiday allowance to include X number of days for workcations.

We covered the basics of workcations in this blog, and you can also watch our on-demand webinar for an extensive look into what it means for businesses.

Cost of living support 

The cost of living increase is proving a massive challenge for people across the country, reinforced by headlines such as energy bills set to rise by £110bn over the next year.

Ensuring your employees are paid fairly is crucial during these turbulent times, but what else can you do? A few initiatives I’ve seen businesses start to implement include:

  • Providing funds/support to help with heating and food cost increases
  • Educating employees on how to cook healthy meals on a budget
  • Organising carpooling for those travelling into the workplace
  • Loans to purchase annual travel passes
  • Employee benefit networks that offer discounts
  • Access to earnings on-demand
  • Ensuring timely expense refunds

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Eco initiatives   

In today’s society, people want to work for a company that aligns with their beliefs.

A recent survey found that 71% of employees and job seekers said that environmentally sustainable companies are more attractive employers and over two-thirds stated they’re more likely to apply/accepts jobs with environmentally and socially responsible businesses.

Clearly, green initiatives need to be on your agenda; our Chief People Officer, Stephanie Kelly, recently covered what businesses can do to be more sustainable – read the blog here.

Ditch the flashy perks and focus on your people

To truly become an attractive employer, flashy perks aren’t your best weapon.

Focusing on the needs of your people and industry expectations is a far more effective way of standing out during the talent war.