Who Values the Benefits You Provide For Employees?

As an employer, you go to great lengths to ensure that a) you meet all your legal obligations which now, of course, include the provision of an Automatic Enrolment compliant pension scheme and b) provide additional benefits that will be valued by staff and will help you “recruit and retain”.

So, as an employer, the short answer to the question in the title of this article is, ideally, “my employees”.

But is this the case? And how do you define “value”? “Value” is not the same as use. If you put in place a retail discount scheme, for example, you would want to see reasonable usage otherwise the cost of installation and maintenance will have been wasted. On the flip side, you definitely would not want to see frequent use of Group Life and Group Income Protection schemes, for fairly obvious reasons.

The traditional core employee benefits of pension, life cover, income protection (continuing income in the event of long term inability to work through illness or accident) and private medical insurance are being eroded by the new benefits on the block – retail discounts, gym membership, cycle to work etc.

While these latter benefits can give immediate gratification, they are of little use to the recently widowed parent with small children or the employee involved in a car accident who has a prognosis of many months off work in recovery. Unfortunately, few employees see beyond the moment and many will willingly give up their life cover (if this option exists) for 7% off their High Street shopping bill.

Employers don’t have bottomless benefit budgets and no employee could reasonably expect them to. So how best to make the spend to ensure full value is obtained? Education must be part of the answer.

Putting in place a suite of benefits that look good on paper will allow many employers to sit back and bask in the reflected glow of a job well done. But if employees are not educated in why these benefits matter and are better than the other alternatives on offer, then it is a job only half done.

Larger companies will put details of their benefits on their intranet so employees can access them at their leisure. But, in reality, do employees do this? They may do so to refresh their understanding but few will use this as their starting point. Smaller companies simply won’t have this facility available and may rely on the traditional staff handbook. Again, a handy reference but rarely a starting point.

Our experience shows presentations to employees are the best and most cost-effective way of getting employees up to speed on benefits packages. They allow them to ask the questions that result in greater understanding of the schemes on offer and result in greater value being placed on them.

A regular programme of presentations to new joiners and existing staff alike, also allows people to have a handy point of contact that will free up management time to concentrate on running the business (as opposed to running the benefits).

It is issues like this that we have identified and incorporated into our new Richmond House Corporate Services offering. For further details please contact me at: pmurphy@richmondhousecs.co.uk

Peter Murphy DipPFS