Firm “n” tone your reward strategy – look at flexible benefits!
Ok, over the years we have heard phrases such as the “war for talent”, and “employer of choice”, but how do you as employers really attract and retain the skills, more importantly how do you gear up your people strategy to emerge from the recession as the winner?
Clearly there are many strands to the above statement, but at the end of the day everything boils down to people and how you as the employer motivate, reward and engage with your employees in a way that is relevant, fresh and exciting……
A big ask? Well yes it is, but it is has been proven by copious amounts of research that an engaged employee is a productive one – fact. Flexible benefits schemes (flex schemes) are one way that you can bring your reward strategy alive and start to provide your employees with choice, education, and information. Traditionally the flex schemes “prize” has only been sought by large corporate businesses, but this is now changing, and flexible benefits is on the agenda of most businesses as just one tool that can be used to improve employee engagement – just look at the recent survey evidence, growth in and employers considering flexible benefits schemes teeters around 12-15% each year. As a differentiator it is one area that you cannot afford to at least look at…
The huge positive about flex is that it prompts you to step back and consider the following:-
1) What are your competitors doing, and how do we set yourselves apart? – 50% of employers believe that their competitors offer better benefits…..
2) What is your people strategy for the next 1, 3, 5 years and how does that align with your business objectives?
3) How do you retain, develop and recruit the right talent?
4) What is your reward strategy to help fulfil (1) to (3) above?
5) How do you bring (1) to (4) together in a compelling proposition?
The compelling proposition is where flex comes into its own, quiet simply if viewed as a communication tool it opens up reward to your workforce.
How? Affordability is a recognised issue in these challenging times – then consider salary sacrifice. Not only does this create the ethos amongst your workforce that you as an employer are helping save your employees money and making their net pay go further, but you can use the corporate tax breaks to help fund your flexible benefits arrangement – you are on to a winner.
Benefits such as pension, childcare vouchers, bikes to work etc all attract tax savings, plus add in holiday buy and sell to create a “a flex pot”, and a few key insurances such as private medical and critical illness and you have the basics in place – straight forward no?
Wrap all of the above under a brand such as “my rewards”, My benefits”, Your choices” or something similar and you start to have the beginning of a “hook” to trigger other benefits led communications – and more importantly a hook to entice your employees.
Where do I start? Execution and deployment of flexible benefits is not as complicated or as expensive as it used to be. Good benefits solution providers will provide a one stop shop of technology (usually an .asp platform that can be branded to your needs), consultancy (scheme design), project management and communication services. It is here that the emphasis over the years has changed, if you view your flex scheme as a communication tool to engage with your employees you will never go far wrong. Consider a mix of existing communication channels, and new ones, video, webcasts, pod casts and using social media (in a controlled way of course) are proving extremely popular – but the trick is to always keep it relevant!
Data and the submission of key data items to the flex provider is key to the success of the scheme – files are required detailing new joiners, leaves and changes to data as well as lifestyle events (events that under current HMRC rules allow employees to alter their flex package to suit their new lifestyle requirements – such changes typically include maternity, divorce etc). The technology exists to deploy straight through processing processes that update flex databases daily – but again be mindful of the needs of your business (20 data movements a month does not require a daily data file!)
While considering flex schemes also look at other areas that currently or could interact with your employees, items such as employee/voluntary savings, employee recognition schemes are other typical key touchpoints. Add these to the mix and think about housing them under a single technology platform with one user-id and password, consistent messaging and branding – then you facilitate true employee engagement through a single communication tool, interested? – watch this space…..
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