Thought / 17 Jul 2018

It’s all about your benefits

With all the talk about employee benefits and the myriad of options available, you’d be forgiven to think that most UK employers have comprehensive benefit programmes in place. The reality, however, is not the case.

At Premier, we’re conducting an ongoing Workplace Wellbeing Appraisal that takes into account approaches taken to working environment, benefits, culture and engagement by UK employers. Each of these categories is scored, and you won’t be surprised that benefits consistently comes bottom with an average score of 35.5 out of 100.

Whilst 35.5% is an average, at this level not too many companies are scoring well. So why is this?

Clearly cost is a factor. While you can introduce a new company policy or improve how you communicate with staff for a relatively small outlay, introducing a new benefit usually has a larger budgetary impact.

Justifying return on investment to the board can be difficult, especially for health and wellbeing, which has a high profile with HR but it may also be difficult to measure its impact.

History plays its part as well. Many companies’ benefits have been built up over time and then remain static as everyone is juggling too many things at once to make a significant change.

Lastly many benefits are provided for only a few employees, and surprisingly, even inexpensive benefits are not always extended to the whole workforce.

can be hard to measure and justify to board members.
out of a 100: average score for benefits amongst UK employers.

So, without being able to throw money at the problem, how can you improve your benefits programme and raise your score?

Firstly, we recommend not simply trying to squeeze your providers for every extra penny on a benefit by benefit basis, while leaving the current structure in place. Instead, look at your overall spend across everything you do for your employees, from eye care vouchers and flu jabs to pensions and employee insurances etc.

The value of your overall spend on benefits may surprise you. This is your true budget and the starting point to a re-design of your employee benefits provision which should have no pre-conditions attached.

Secondly, consider which benefits are popular with your employees and which are most used (they will not necessary match) – an employee survey can be good for this. In addition, look at any priorities the company may have.

Thirdly, seek help. This is a big project and engaging outside help from benefit and reward experts will provide an independent view and reduce your workload. It is important to choose carefully who you seek assistance from and your current adviser may not be the best option for this project.

Finally, now that you know your budget and have agreed on a benefit re-design, it is time to implement and communicate to staff – but ensuring you take the correct approach here is a separate subject entirely.

Simon Curtis

Senior Consultant