Employee Benefit Review Service
Please watch the video to find out in less than 2 minutes how our Employee Benefit Review could help your business
Please watch the video to find out in less than 2 minutes how our Employee Benefit Review could help your business
The loss of influential individuals through death or serious illness can be hugely detrimental to a company’s financial position, yet this vulnerability is often overlooked when considering the firms insurance needs.
We can provide advice and insurance solutions to protect against these risks.
Looking after staff has always been important for the best employers. Having a positive environment, culture and approach to personal development have long been components that employers have focused on to demonstrate their commitment to caring about staff.
Remuneration packages too, have been clear differentiators between the best employers and the rest. Salary, of course is important, but savvy employers – and employees – recognise that the accompanying employee benefits can boost the value of remuneration packages significantly.
Traditionally, certain benefits would be expected as core, such as a pension, private healthcare and life assurance. But, along with many things, the recent pandemic has changed all that.
Daily reporting on mortality rates, the effect of underlying medical conditions, obesity and the importance of exercise has meant that we are all focusing on our health and wellbeing more than ever.
Remote, personalised, accessible
As such, the health and wellbeing benefits that employers offer have become particularly interesting to staff.
As needs rapidly changed, the industry has been ready to adapt.
Remote, virtual access to GPs 24/7 has been a game changer.
Access to support for mental health has become even more flexible. Counselling can be provided remotely. Apps allow employees to monitor stress levels, and nudge them to access one-to-one support if needed. Personalised hubs provide a wealth of information for self-care.
Celebrities have been brought in to liven up online fitness classes. Discounted home exercise equipment has been made available. Fitness trackers can boost individual motivation, and can also be linked to fellow employees’ workouts to help remote team-building.
Downtime has never been more important, and some providers offer free film downloads, coffee at home, and extra rewards for improving wellbeing.
Let’s get physical
Musculo skeletal conditions account for 40% of sickness absence, but the pandemic hasn’t been a reason for treatment to stop. Providers have made support such as physio available remotely.
The NHS backlog will have a significant impact for some time. Private healthcare will not only help people get the treatment they need, it will also help ease a burden for the NHS.
Employers understand the benefits that providing access to private healthcare can bring in terms of reduced employee absence, but where this may once have been seen as a perk for senior staff, it’s now likely to be offered more widely. There are increasingly flexible options available which have made this affordable for many more employers.
The statistics behind the statistics show the huge decrease in people getting a diagnosis for serious illnesses including cancer. Early diagnosis is imperative for improving outcomes, and providing access to health monitoring and screening is one option that can be a real support to a workforce.
Where employees may once have paid little attention to financial protection benefits their employer offered – such as life assurance, income protection, critical illness – it’s now become more interesting as they see the direct relevance.
These are some of the most affordable benefits, they’re now likely to be some of the most valued. When a financial pay-out is made in the event of death, illness or injury, the support to an employee and their dependants can be a lifeline. People are now more aware of the likelihood of such an event happening, so will be more engaged in such benefits.
Indeed, financial planning, retirement planning, budgeting, financial education all have more relevance to employees now. Employers that support their workforce in these areas have their finger on the pulse and show a direct understanding of what’s important to their staff.
Communicate and engage
As employees have an increased interest in their physical, mental and financial wellbeing, this provides a perfect opportunity for employers to communicate any support they offer.
And as the benefits themselves have adapted, so too must communication methods. Online platforms, email, post, remote presentations are all being more widely used to great effect. When employees know what support they’re offered, they feel valued and they’re more engaged: great achievements at such a time.
Would you give your pension fund or advise your employees to give their pension fund to a man you have just met?
You and your employees would have seen the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulators (TPR) advert telling you not to let scammers enjoy your pension savings. They have joined forces on the campaign to raise awareness of the common tactics used by fraudsters.
The introduction of ‘Pension Freedoms’ in 2015 gave people greater access to their pensions by allowing new flexibilities with regards to how those over age 55 can take their benefits. Whilst this was widely welcomed and subsequently used, sadly, the same change in rules also presented opportunities for criminal gangs to defraud savers of their lifetime retirement savings.
With confusion in the minds of some people about what flexibility rules mean, this has created a grey area that scammers like to exploit and prey on people’s lack of knowledge in this area. Very rarely are pension funds recovered if they have been scammed, leaving people reliant on the State Pension.
Scamming is a big issue and is being taken very seriously. The Commons Select Committee announced last week that it is to examine the impact of Pension Freedoms and the protection of pension savers. The FCA and TPR stated that in 2018, 180 people reported to Action Fraud that they had been the victim of a pension scam, losing on average £82,000 each. More alarmingly, they believe that only a minority of pension scams are ever reported.
So has Scamming been on the increase during Covid 19?
The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) publication “DWP’s response to the coronavirus outbreak”2 recognises that people facing financial hardship may also be looking at their pension savings as an extra form of support. It is important that these savers are protected from decisions not in their best interests and do not see their savings fall into the hands of opportunistic scammers.
How Employers can help?
Employer can have a big part to play in preventing their employees being scammed. This is particularly the case given that employees so often look to their employer for initial guidance in such matters.
Employers can help raise awareness of this criminal activity by display an FCA/TPR ScamSmart poster in workplaces to raise awareness of the issues and include reminders of the risks in their regular Employee Benefits updates. Employers can also signpost employees to generic impartial guidance via the government funded service, Pension Wise.
In addition, we would strongly encourage Employers to provide employees with more access to group pension surgeries and/or targeted sessions on pension retirement options via remote webinars and video calls during the on-going crisis.
For more information the above topic, please speak to your usual Wingate Consultant or contact us via email@example.com or on (T)01883 332260.
Although Workplace Pensions have dominated the world of employee benefits over the last 5 years, employers are still encouraged to regularly review and refresh their benefits package to ensure the offering remains both attractive and relevant to employees. So how can benefits be delivered in the most positive way, whilst also avoiding the common mistakes that cause badly managed promotions?
There are a number of different areas to consider for any company reviewing its employee benefits package, whether this is in relation to existing benefits in place, or introducing a new arrangement; some of these are listed below.
The demographics of your business could be heavily weighted in a certain area, meaning some benefits may be appreciated more than others. For example, younger employees may prefer a Health Cash Plan compared to older employees, who may prefer full Private Medical Insurance. Higher earners might want to maximise pension contributions to take advantage of tax savings, whilst those with young families may prioritise Life Assurance or Income Protection. Employee Surveys will tell you what is important to your staff which will ensure that the cost of a new benefit is going to be highly valued by the staff.
When you have decided what to provide, timing the introduction well is essential. It’s key to avoid periods when high numbers of employees are on leave (e.g. summer holidays/Christmas) and/or when business pressures mean your workforce is unlikely to acknowledge the impact. It is also best to avoid clashes with other business changes, when the positive introduction of a new benefit could be overlooked. So carefully consider when is the best time to announce any changes, to achieve maximum positive engagement from your employees.
You must ensure that communications are managed properly and work well to support your key message and the smooth running of the improved benefits package. Whether this is done via letter, benefit guides, e-mail or intranet, any new systems introduced should be made completely clear so your staff understand what is being made available. Employee benefits form part of the remuneration package offered so make sure your employees know when they are getting something extra!
Whether managed by you as the employer, the policy insurer/provider, or your outsourced employee benefit consultant, once in place the new benefit should be clearly promoted and communicated to employees. Training for managers is advisable so they fully understand the benefits on offer and can explain them positively. It’s essential that employees know who they can speak to if they have any queries, or require any assistance, when using this new benefit to ensure it’s effectiveness.
Your new employee benefit may be suitable, introduced at the right time and include expert delivery and support – but will it always do what you set out to achieve? Considering your workforce may change, or even forget what is available or how to use it, we recommend employers:
Unless they are contractual there is nothing stopping employer replacing one employee benefit with another for any number of reasons – you just need to consider what is in the best interests’ of your workforce before doing so.
If you are considering providing a new employee benefit or restructure of existing benefits and would like further information on how we can help ensure a successful implementation please contact the team on 01883 332260.
Jon is one of our team of Employee Benefit Advisers.
“So, I have our company pension in place for the employees; contributions are being taken from pay and paid across to our pension provider on time and we have submitted our declaration of compliance to The Pensions Regulator (TPR). All seems to be swimming along lovely and I can now go back to focusing on my business and helping it to make profit.” As a key decision maker or owner of a business, these words may ring very true to you.
With your personal affairs, how often do you review your utility bills, satellite or cable TV contract or mobile phone contract? Personally, I probably look at mine every 2 or so years. I do it just to make sure that I am doing the right thing, that I’m not over paying and that the service I was promised two or so years ago is still the same today. If this is how we deal with our personal affairs, as a business owner, why don’t we do the same with such things as the company’s pension scheme or come to that matter any of the employee benefits? If its the general insurance, property rates or IT or phone systems, they’ll usually be reviewed annually so why not the same for the pension and other benefits?
Pension legislation as well as payroll software and pension systems are all very different now to how they were back in 2012 when Automatic Enrolment Preview (opens in a new window)started and is even more different in the last two years. However, has your company pension been amended/reviewed to keep up to date with these changes in legislation?
Questions such as the following should all be asked
Many people will comment that ‘if it ain’t broke’ don’t fix it’, however, if the pension doesn’t perform as it should and/or employees aren’t receiving value for money who do you think your employees would go to for answers?’
The scrutiny from TPR over the coming years on Workplace Pension is only going to intensify over the next few years and therefore it is important that a business has steps in place to defend itself and justify the decisions made to TPR if asked. A review of your Workplace Pension will either confirm that what you’ve done is still good today or highlight areas of improvement.
Either way, this is a positive message that can be sent to staff to re-assure them that you have everything under control and that they can continue to drive the business forward on your behalf.
For further information on our scheme suitability review services please contact the team on 01883 332260.
Richard is one of our Strategic Benefit Consultants specialising in Workplace Pensions.
When the Workplace Pension Reforms were first introduced, minimum pension contributions were set that an employer had to pay to their Workplace Pension Scheme, increasing over time. Whilst Auto Enrolment has been the norm for some time now, it’s amazing to think that we have only just reached the first increase in contributions, from 2% to 5% total, effective from April 2018.
Many firms are paying more (and in some cases, much more) than the legal requirements – but what is the benefit of doing this?
There is a wide understanding that minimum contribution level of 8% from April 2019 will not provide someone with a sufficient pension in retirement to live on comfortably. Research by the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) suggests that a total pension contribution of 12% is more realistic and even the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) own review in 2017 stated: “We recognise contributions of 8% are unlikely to give all individuals the retirement to which they aspire”.
This suggests employees should be paying upwards of 10% of their salary into a pension, which gives employers an opportunity to demonstrate they are prepared to make a long-term investment in their employees by paying more to their pension. Offering higher pension contributions shows a commitment to help employees secure their financial status in the longer term….it’s in effect ‘deferred pay’. Given the amount of publicity pensions have received in recent years and the fact everyone is aware every employer must pay a legislated minimum contribution paying more than the minimum has become a very distinguishable ‘added value’ benefit which can help attract and retain staff.
Of course, paying higher pension contributions for all employees will not viable for every employer but there are ways of restricting increases to certain categories of employees. For example it could be used to reward employees who achieve a certain position within the business, a level of qualification /compliance or a favourite of ours, loyalty.
Another option is to match higher employee contributions up to a certain point, so rather than providing an increase for everyone, an employer only pays more into the pension when employees do. This sees employers providing additional value to employees who place importance on their pension themselves, therefore maximising the benefit of the additional spend. Employers could match the increased levels to clear (non subjective we’d suggest) company values or targets as long as these of course do not discriminate.
Employee guidance, education and support can be provided without significant increases in cost. Pensions are rarely seen as being easy to navigate, so providing information they can understand will ensure workers feel included, engaged and ultimately value their pension contribution benefit. If they don’t understand it they are unlikely to value it and certainly not to the extent the employer would want bearing in mind the cost. Employees highly value guidance which they can understand and act upon around their investment choice, retirement options, required levels of savings etc. At the same time they rarely have the time to source let alone educate themselves on a subject they see as complicated to start with. For this reason simple, short one to one human assistance can provide a huge benefit at a low time or financial cost.
Whichever way you look at it, pensions have been brought back to the forefront of many employees minds when it comes to considering benefit packages. This is only likely to intensify with the increases to auto enrolment pension contributions this and next year and the ever increasing realisation that the State Pension is unlikely to provide what people had hoped and certainly not when they’d originally expected it. As such anything an employer can do to increase the value of its pension benefit will be recognised and valued more so than it likely would have been in the recent past.
Jon is one of our benefit advisers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01883 332269. Alternatively please contact any of our Employee Benefits Team at 01883 332260 or email@example.com
The Employee Benefit world is always changing. What changes lay ahead and what do you have to do?
Increases to statutory minimums Automatic Enrolment seems to have been a success. A report* by the Department of Work and Pension states that over 9 million people have been enrolled into a work place pension and with only 1 in 10 opting out.
However, the next success needs to be people saving more towards their pensions. This will happen in April when minimum pension contributions increase. This will have an impact on most employees take home pay.
Early communication with employees is vital to ensure your employees understand this is happening and you must make these increases to remain compliant with The Pensions Regulator.
*Automatic Enrolment Review 2017: Maintaining the Momentum (DWP)
Fit for Work is a Government funded scheme where employers could refer employees for free occupational health assessments once they had reached four weeks continuous sickness absence.
This Government funded scheme is being withdrawn on the 31st March 2018. This could leave some employers without any fall back option to assess illness or injury of their employees and with no credible return to work plan.
We would recommend that employers who have used this scheme review their private provision of return to work assessments. Appropriate action should be taken to review your current employee benefits by looking at early intervention services included in your existing Group Income Protection Policy, EAP and/or your Occupational Health provision. Alternatively, should you not have these benefits, implementing these facilities so your business has a clear plan on how to deal with absence and return to work plans.
Childcare Voucher are a means for employed parents to reduce their childcare cost. By using salary exchange to purchase vouchers through you Childcare Voucher scheme, employees save significant amounts of tax and national insurance on the value of the voucher.
We now have a date when the Government are going to phase out Childcare Vouchers and replace them with Tax Free Childcare. Whilst Tax Free Childcare is open to a wider range of parents, e.g. the self-employed, it may not be as beneficial to your employees as the current scheme.
If your employees are already in the Voucher scheme, they can retain the right to remain in the scheme. Employees who still want to partake in the Voucher scheme must have a deduction made from salary in the March pay period to qualify. After this date, no new employees are able to join the Voucher Scheme.
Again, early communication with employees is vital to give employees time to consider the two options and allow time for employees to join your voucher scheme by March payroll cut off.
With these changes happening from April there is a lot for employers to consider and communicate to their employees. Reviewing current practices and employee benefits then communicating to staff is vital in keeping your work force both informed and engaged.
We can provide a free no obligation review of your current practices and benefits. For details please contact us on 01883 332260 or at firstname.lastname@example.org