Simplifying Employee Benefits Delivery and Improving Employee Engagement

How can businesses access simple benefit tools to deliver schemes easily and without fuss?

In today’s modern UK workplace, it’s important for employers of all businesses, no matter what size, to be able to access simple benefit tools that can deliver employee benefits in the workplace easily and without fuss.

Salaries have remained largely flat over the last 10 years, but the cost of living has been rising, squeezing disposable incomes. At the same time, unemployment has fallen and many employers are finding it difficult to both attract new employees and retain existing staff as people can be more selective in terms of where and who they work for.

Getting the Right Benefits Platform

The key issue that all employees face is how to make their pay go further and maintain living standards. The opportunity many employers have here is to review what benefits they provide in addition to salary.

The world of work is complex, and employees have many concerns that can impact their work performance; everything from personal health issues, worries about making ends meet and family matters, to daily workplace stresses. All these issues mean that the reality of business is that not every single paid hour can be used to its full potential and the presenting issues can become a drag on productivity.

To mitigate against some of these issues in the workplace, employers are too often offered complex and costly benefit solutions by their advisors. The proposed solutions often only look at the short term or suggest technology fixes such as flexible benefit platforms that can be complex and costly to implement and which may require multi-layered communications processes that are difficult to implement.

When it comes to benefit platforms, employers should look at solutions that are quick to set up and easy to manage. That way, they can reduce the amount of time spent on administration and focus more on creating a business atmosphere and culture that drives up engagement and productivity. The platform should provide products and services that combine both voluntary free benefits as well as employer-paid. The key features should be simplicity and value.

The core elements of a benefits platform should be around helping employees’ pay go further. Product features should include:

Retail discounts and rewards

Access to fairer finance to avoid payday lender costs

Help with savings through accessible and affordable investments

Help with health issues by providing access to medical schemes that can work alongside the NHS and which support the adoption of healthy lifestyles.

Overall, the platform should be about providing simple, transparent products and services.

Making it Easy for Employers

Whilst each employee is different and there is no simple “one size fits all” solution, a simple low-cost benefits platform combining a broad range of benefits will ensure it appeals to a multi-generational workforce.

The key requirement for an employer from a benefits platform is the communications capability and the simplicity of use and set-up. The platform must be quick and straightforward to set up without heavy IT investment and provide tailored messaging to employees about the products and services that are being made available.

By centralising the provision and access of the benefits for staff into one, easy-to-access location, the platform ensures that consistent messages can be sent out to all staff at the same time. Employees ought to be able to access free services and information on a platform, for example, an employee assistance programme. They should also be able to use retail discounts, draw down on fairer finance to obtain low-cost credit and be able to easily save for the future.

These benefits are all intended to help employees stretch their pay that little bit further.

Employers should also provide access to health insurance to help staff get access to medical treatment quickly and which can work in parallel with the NHS. Products such as cash plans can be offered as a voluntary benefit. Employer funded benefits such as life cover, disability cover, PMI or hospital treatment plans will give employees valuable peace of mind and support should an unforeseen event occur.

How it Helps

The main reason for making sure a benefits programme is available on a comprehensive platform is the positive influence it can have over productivity. Just to give you an idea, research has shown that staff who are worrying about their finances and the pressure of making ends meet, spend 2-3 hours per week distracted from their work (see note 1). Instead, they find themselves considering solutions or panicking about how they can’t support their family.

And there are some 8.3 million people struggling with personal debt in the UK. The average UK household debt (including mortgages) in 2018 was £58,540 (see note 2).

Good financial wellness is a key component of an overall wellness programme and by providing access to savings and investments, the employer will help staff to better manage their finances and provide for their futures while ensuring they stay focused at work, using their time well. Access to private medical treatment can also save time that would be lost by being able to have appointments outside of working hours so that employees are able to fit sessions in their own time and choose when and where to get treatment.

By having a comprehensive benefits platform, employers can create a relevant benefits programme for their whole workforce. One that not only looks to improve employee well-being but one that can lower overall costs and drive corporate engagement. In doing so, employers better position themselves to create a healthier and more productive workforce and retain staff for the long term.

Note 1: PWC 2017 Employer Financial Wellness Survey.

Note 2: The Money Charity June 2018.