Employees like the opportunity to be able to pick the perks that best suit their lifestyles, writes Kimberley Dondo

Multi ethnic people holding the word benefits picture id485869621

Traditionally flexible benefits have always been popular with employees as they allow them to pick the perks that best suit their lifestyles.

“Flexible benefits offer employees the choice and flexibility to exchange their salary for the things that are important to them. Core benefits can also be offered on top of an employee’s salary,” Adam Mason, consulting director at Benefex explains. “One great thing about flexible benefits is the possible tax and NI savings to be made using salary sacrifice. In most cases, discounted purchase prices can also be achieved, as well as the ability to spread any payment terms over a 12-month period.”

The workforce has become vastly diverse and the best way to provide a benefits package that is relevant and engaging for each employee, which in this case is a flexible benefits one. With flexible benefits employers can select benefits that suit each individual employee.

Flexible benefits can also negate offset changes within a company, such as the closure of a pension scheme, as well compensate for a lack of pay rises or bonuses. These benefits can also help to give employers a competitive edge when they want to recruit new talent.

“Challenges like Brexit, which may reduce the availability of talent for some employers, plus the fact that generally employees are working for longer before retiring, means that HR professionals need to consider not just how they will attract and retain employees, but also how they will support the changing needs of their employees as they age, especially as health concerns are more likely to affect older employees. Altering the components of a flex site in line with the changing needs of a workforce, ensures the longevity and relevance of benefits over the longer term.” Pauline Iles, principal risk benefits consultant at Quantum Advisory advises.

Employers also need to note the importance of communication when they have a flexible benefits package in place. In order to see a return on investment, companies need to also have a carefully laid out communications plan in order to achieve the best possible engagement.

This increases the perception and value of the reward package. Engaging communications and simple user portals ensure employees will understand the true value of the flexible benefits on offer.

Nicky Dunderdale, director of digital at Psyon, adds: “In my experience, keeping it simple will result in the most appropriate solution. A great example of this is a recent client who wanted to promote their critical Illness benefit. We worked with them to implement a branded portal. And to drive engagement, we created eye-catching member communications and provided support through a dedicated member helpline. By working with the client to truly understand their objectives, we delivered the right platform for them, supported by targeted employee communications. As a result, the client has ended up with a flex platform that has exceeded their expectations and has been widely welcomed by their staff.”

After a company has selected flexible benefits that are relevant to their employees, it is important that this is continuously monitored.

“Once you have a benefits programme up and running it is crucial that you monitor what your staff are using and what they are not. This allows you to update and refine your offering,” observes David Walker, chief commercial officer at Personal Group. “Flexible benefits can then be changed quickly and easily so that your offer remains as up to date, dynamic and competitive as possible. At Personal Group, we build analytics into our systems so HR teams can see all the relevant data in one place.”

TOP 5 ADVANTAGES OF IMPLEMENTING FLEXIBLE BENEFITS ARE:

  • Tax and National Insurance efficiencies – salary sacrifice benefits offer the chance for you and your employees to benefit from savings in these areas.
  • Cost-effectiveness – lower costs by harmonising employee benefits and using one platform for everything you offer (flexible benefits, voluntary benefits, auto-enrolment, and more).
  • Improved Employee Value Proposition – offering employee benefits differentiates your organisation in the marketplace and has been proven to assist organisations in attracting key talent.
  • Increased engagement, retention and motivation.
  • A well-designed extensive scheme tailored to meet the needs of your employees will gain buy-in and allow individuals to choose the benefits relevant to them.
  • Reduced administration – hand over the reporting, scheme administration and employee queries to save time and allow the team to be more strategic.