The financial services compensation service was well placed to explore how best to provide an up-to-date benefits offering, writes Peter Crush
Staff at for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) – the department that protects consumers of financial services firms when they fail – receive (understandably perhaps), a pretty good suite of perks. PMI for all staff – you bet they do; pension quality mark status for pensions – yes; income protection – yes, again. But according to David Blackburn, the FSCS’s chief people officer, many of these had begun to be regarded as “passive benefits” by employees. They were legacy perks that had come to be regarded as normal, but were preventing moves into more of a health and wellness direction because of their costs.
The upshot of all this – and by doing what some might consider a brave move – has led to the scaling back in the generosity of perks. It’s been done by identifying aspects to benefits considered as not making much difference to staff, so that more of a health agenda can be pushed. “We had multiple brokers, all charging different rates, handling different benefits, so we partnered with Aon to bring them all together,” he said. “What we also did was get some initial qualitative work on what certain benefits were costing us.” He adds: “We already knew private health insurance was massively generous – for instance, that if anyone had to leave work due to ill health, we’d pay their salary for life. The analysis showed us that if we cut this back to say, paying salaries for five years, it would save us enough money to give everyone dental cover without staff feeling they’d lost out.”
Since then, all existing perks that cost a lot, but are not used much and don’t add value to staff have been re-examined. “We made free travel insurance voluntary, because the average age of our population has gone down,” he says. “As a result, we’ve been able to tweak other perks – for instance, we’ve moved our gym membership to a flex arrangement, which means staff can access better discounts and use the gyms better – which we believe will boost health and wellbeing.”
Blackburn believes a targeted look at old perks is a worthwhile exercise. “Offering ever-larger lists is no longer the thing to do,” he says. “Now I’m more of the ‘what can we take out’ persuasion.” He adds: “When medical insurance inflation is approaching 14% per year, you have to look at ways to be more efficient with health spend. We think our gym offering will ensure we protect staff from getting ill as much.” Because cost has been controlled through looking at the data, Blackburn says he’s managed to make National Insurance savings of £224 per head, and it’s freeing up cash for other health initiatives.
“I’m looking at an online GP service – we’ve been quoted £2.20 per employee – and we think this is a health benefit with more relevance to our demographic.” The plan is to introduce it in 2018. “Data,” he says, “is the crucial component. If you don’t know your numbers, you can’t do any improvements.”
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