BY: BEN CLARKE
The world of employee benefits never stands still. The pandemic hastened developments, and there has never been more choice. The dilemma is which ones should employers offer their staff?
The most important thing is to make them relevant, targeted and personalised to your own particular workforce. As one leading HR Director says: ‘Personalised offerings provide a greater sense of connection between the employee and the organisation.’ Workforce demographics To do this, it’s important to have a handle on the particular demographics of your workforce. This is as relevant for small employers as it is for large. Consider age, gender, lifestyle, whether or not they have dependants: this can all give an indication as to which benefits might be most relevant.
For instance, advice on pension investments is likely to be different for a younger workforce than an older one. But it’s also important not to make assumptions. Life assurance may typically appeal to older employees, but younger employees with financial commitments are also likely to see the advantages. Private Medical Insurance (PMI) may be utilised more heavily by older employees, but research shows it’s also viewed as one of the most valuable employee benefits across a workforce.
Ask, ask and ask again
Running an employee survey can be a great way to find out what really excites your employees. If you find that support for fitness, health and wellbeing is really important to them, then that can be a great starting point to look at the options. It doesn’t have to mean gold-plated PMI across the board, in practice it might mean offering access to cycle-to-work schemes, fitness apps or discounted physio: benefits that are very affordable but highly valued. It’s really valuable to run a survey again after benefits have been implemented to measure understanding and appreciation.
Engagement is good for business
Engaging employees with benefits helps to engage them with the company, and that’s good for business. Research shows that engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organisation, perform 20 per cent better than their colleagues and act as advocates of the business A good measurement of engagement with employee benefits is to look at the utilisation of them. Is the employee assistance programme (EAP) accessed, are helplines used, have employees increased their pension contributions? Utilisation is a really good sign that benefits are relevant. However, poor utilisation is not necessarily an indication that they’re not. It might well be the case that employees just don’t know about the benefits on offer or how to access them.
Communicate the relevance
At Matrix, we’re experts at communicating the detail of employee benefits, bringing them to life, and explaining the relevance to different demographics. We can explain the impact of increasing pension contributions; the importance of reviewing pension investment options; the relevance of life assurance/critical illness/income protection at different life stages; how to get the most value from health and wellbeing benefits; and – vitally – how to access them. Hearing from experts can make all the difference to staff. Whether via webinar, intranet, flyers or other – targeted communications can demonstrate the value to each individual.
When employees see the personal relevance of the benefits that they’re offered, they not only feel more engaged with the benefit, they feel more engaged with their employer too. And this increases their value to both. The right employee benefits support retention and engagement, and it can support recruitment too. Sixty per cent of people report that benefits are a major factor in considering whether to accept a job offer. So if you’re looking to recruit a particular demographic, then a good place to start is to look at the benefits that are going to attract them.
Relevant, targeted and personalised employee benefits are key differentiators for employers of choice.