Voluntary benefits have changed rapidly over the past 15 years, as benefits that employees would have traditionally bought for themselves are now readily available through their workplaces. Kimberley Dondo reports
There has been a change in what is included in workplace benefits, and also how they are offered.
The traditional offerings may still be there, but the real growth has been in a different type of proposition – the voluntary benefit. These fall into two broad categories – extra benefits in a package that the employee may contribute towards, and a discount set-up where the individual receives some form of reward as a result of making a purchase.
The huge advantages of this type of benefit is that it offers massive choice for the staff member at a minimal cost to their employer.
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“By consolidating all your benefits in one central location, it’s easier and quicker to promote new benefits, employee visibility is improved and administration is kept to a minimum – making it a quick win all round for both employer and employee,” says Computershare’s Julian Foster.
Prices are rising faster than wages, and employees are continuously looking for ways to stretch their money further. A retail discounts scheme enables employees to access savings not normally available on the high street and this can include many of the leading retailers. A good retail discounts scheme enables employees to make savings on everyday essentials in addition to special one-off purchases, and includes travel and days out.
Research carried out by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, the London School of Economics and Computershare found that employees who take part in a company share plan are absent less often, are less likely to leave the firm, and work longer hours, as well as having more job satisfaction.
For those who travel to work using public transport, the cost of an annual season ticket can be much better value than paying daily or monthly. However, for most people this involves the expensive options of using a credit card or taking out a loan. In-house travel loans enable staff to borrow the cost cheaply, with repayments taken in 12 equal instalments directly from their pay.
Unrestricted benefits windows allow true flexibility by offering ‘any time’ benefits. This helps employers to ensure that they see maximum uptake of the benefits they provide, which in turn allows for a decent return on investment.