Employee Benefits – Seven Top Tips
Steven McKay, Head of Employee Benefits at Mearns & Company
People want to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts, and benefits play an important part – 69% of employees would choose one job over another if it offered better benefits (One Medical). So, what should you consider when designing, reviewing, or updating your employee benefits package?
- Get the basics right. As an employer, you must meet your pension automatic enrolment duties. Essentially, this means you must enrol your employees into a pension and you and your employees must make contributions. There are also communication, record keeping, and review requirements that you need to get your head around as well. There is a lot of support out there – accountants, payroll providers/software, pension providers, and employee benefits consultants can all help.
- Some of the best benefits are free. One of employees’ biggest priorities is having a good work-life balance. There are many ways employers can support this – flexible working, working from home, limiting what time employees can work to, or creating a culture where employees aren’t seen as heroes for working the most hours or being the last one to leave at the end of the day.
- One size doesn’t fit all. Everyone is motivated by different things. With more multi-generational workplaces, it is becoming harder to design suitable employee benefits packages. For most, the solution to this is choice (flexible or voluntary benefits); however, there are some benefits that transcend generations – income protection, wellness budgets, even little things like fruit in the office.
- Understand what your employees value. If your employees don’t want the benefits you offer, you’re wasting your money. In the same way as you will have spent time understanding what your clients/customers value, it’s worthwhile doing a little bit of employee-market research. This applies to potential employees as well. Employee surveys, discussions at employee/team catch-up meetings, questions at exit interviews, asking new employees why they joined and, equally, asking candidates why they rejected you – the more ‘touch-points’ you have, the better your understanding will be.
- Find out what your competition is doing. Attracting and retaining the best people can give you an edge on your competition. Of course, there are many reasons why employees leave a company or choose to work elsewhere, but the benefits package is a big factor. If you aren’t offering something but your competitor is, it is something that can quickly and easily be improved.
- Promote your benefits package. So, you’ve got an employee benefits package that you know your employees want and you know gives you the edge on your competition but, for it to work, you need to make people aware. There are so many ways to get the message out – emails, posters, benefits booklets, an online benefits portal, presentations. Different approaches appeal to different personalities and generations, so you might want to use a few of these. You also need to consider potential employees as well, so highlight your benefits in job adverts and take time to discuss them at an interview – you’re selling yourself to the candidate just as much as they are to you.
- Keep your benefits under review. Rules change, so you will have to keep up to date to stay compliant. What motivates employees now will not always work in the future and the competition might ‘catch-up’, so your market research will need to be repeated. And, as we all know, prices will rise, so you will have to shop around to find the best value providers every few years.