Providing benefits that suit everyone may seem difficult, especially if you consider how diverse our family, financial, health and travel needs are.  If you stick to a simple structure, however, it can evolve over time to cater for your existing staff, keeping them happy, while attracting great new people to your workplace. 

1. The next version of flex

So how flexible is flex really?

Being able to choose from a set list of benefits once a year is not that flexible these days.

Letting employees lock in their basic needs at the start of the year, then giving them a way of making ad hoc requests as and when they arise through the year, drawing on funds and submitting benefits ‘expenses’ can be a far more effective way of providing choice and access for everyone. 

Of our clients, those offering a Benefits Expense Account have seen a higher take-up than those who don’t.

Some examples: Core Benefits, Benefits Allowance, Flexible Benefits, Benefits Expense Account.

2. Working 9 to 5…

It may sound obvious but making sure your people have the right environment to perform in can have a huge impact on their happiness at work.  From desk space to facilities, all the little things add up.

This, alongside flexible working hours, a sensible dress code, good family and study leave policies and social gatherings can greatly improve morale. 

We don’t all have to have slides instead of stairs but a splash of character goes a long way. 

Some examples: Flexible Hours, Flexible Leave & Holidays, Office Environment, Dress Policy, Social Events.

3. It’s all about the Money, Money, Money

Employees tend to undervalue their benefits – research shows employees estimate their company’s benefit spend at 6.6% of their salary.  Our estimates put the real spend at closer to 10% of salary.  Perhaps this is because, for many employees, these benefits don’t impact the bottom line.

Any scheme that can save employees money or make life easier will be greatly appreciated. Sometimes offering discounts are great but if you can reduce their monthly outgoings, that’s even better. 

You can improve disposal incomes by offering everything from local offers (dry-cleaning etc.) to staff shopping discounts (from holidays to TV packages) to free or subsidised food (I know I’d come in early for free breakfast!).

Some examples: Daily Fresh Fruit, Discount Schemes, Local Offers on Services, Enhanced Pay on Leave.

4. Make benefits day-to-day

Core benefits can be a hygiene factor these days with Life Cover and Healthcare being almost an expected inclusion in one’s package (and that’s without even beginning the pension discussion). 

Providing initiatives to support employees throughout the year can have a much bigger impact on their engagement with everything from their health to their finances And give much more value as a result.

It doesn’t all have to be insurance and illness either, providers are latching onto how important data can be with health topics. We are seeing a boom in wearable technology linking in with company health.

Some examples: Wearable Technology, Financial Education, Wellness Events, Sports Clubs, Seminars.

5. Branding and communicating your benefits 

A strong brand is vital in reinforcing your people’s perception of the company. The same is true of benefits. 

Having a strong communications strategy that reaches employees in a way they prefer is just as important as having the right range of benefits in the first place. Some people prefer a short video, while others love a fortune cookie dropped on their desk with a personal message inside.  But it’s tough to work out the right one for everyone, so multiple streams are key.

Clients of ours who used bespoke communication saw, on average, a 13% increase in logins and 10% increase in benefit take up.

How about those who you are trying to recruit – why not let them access their benefits before they join to see how great their package really is?

For example, Bibby Financial Services were competing for talent against the big high street banks, and realised that they could use their benefits to improve the recruitment process. They brought all their recruitment suppliers in and made sure they were trained on how to sell their package "My Reward" to candidates. According to the agencies this made them ‘stand-out from the crowd,’ and improved their job offer acceptance rate to 96%.