Four reasons to review employee benefits

Once employee benefits are in place, the temptation to tick the employee benefit box as ‘job done’ can be irresistible. But therein lies folly, and here are four key reasons why.

Needs change

Employee benefits that were once applicable for a workforce, even just 12 months ago, may not be relevant today.

Employee demographics change, new recruits come into a business, employees’ life stages change and so do their needs.

Benefits such as life assurance, retirement planning and healthcare may not have engaged some employees at a certain life stage; but once they have financial commitments or dependants, such benefits can be vital.

Benefits that were once seen as gilt-edged in a particular industry sector quickly become expected as standard, and employers need to keep up if they want to recruit the best.

Benefits change

The world of employee benefits never stands still. Some of the greatest minds in business spend their lives focused on how to improve the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of employees. In practice this means we now have a greater range and affordability of available support.

For instance, access to specialist oncologists, rehabilitation and counselling were once expensive additions to some health and wellbeing benefits. They now come as standard and at no extra cost.

It’s important to keep on top of what’s available.

Such benefits don’t just support employees, they can help a business achieve its objectives too. The right benefits can increase engagement and productivity, and help with recruitment and absence management.

Potential for savings change

There is potential for significant savings to be made with a regular review of benefits.

For example, employers can make great savings on their national insurance contributions by utilising salary exchange for pension contributions, which can be advantageous for employees too.

As health and wellbeing benefits are regularly enhanced, many now include benefits that employers will also be paying for standalone. For instance, an employee assistance programme (EAP) is often included at no extra cost alongside life assurance – one of the most popular employee benefits with nearly 10 million employees covered in the UK. EAPs are an increasingly popular benefit which are often purchased separately. A review can show if an employer is paying for this unnecessarily. This can also be the case for other benefits too.

Fees and administration costs vary hugely between different benefits, advisers, providers and suppliers. Just as it’s important to benchmark benefits with competitors, it’s also important to benchmark on costs to see where savings can be made.

Laws and regulations change

The Equality Act 2010, Written Statement of Employment Particulars which came into force April 2020, employment contracts, the removal of the default retirement age all have a bearing on employee benefits, and it’s important that the implications are understood and that benefits are compliant.

Every year the Chancellor’s Budget has a review of taxation which can affect the pension lifetime allowance. This can have serious tax implications for business owners and employees. Specialist guidance and advice is vital so employees have enough time to plan and mitigate the chance of unexpected tax when they come to draw their pension.

The onus is on the employer to ensure a workplace pension is fit for purpose. Regular governance is vital to ensure that it is, as well as to review appropriateness of investments for good member outcomes.

A well-managed employee benefits package is a great support to employer and employee alike, and a regular review is vital to ensure its potential is maximised.

 

 

The last week in February was a week in which the Prime Minister presented to the nation the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. There are still hurdles to jump over, things to navigate through and surely more bumps in the road along the way as we head towards the 21st June but this roadmap really does allow us all to concentrate on ensuring we are following the governments guidelines and doing our bit to help ensure we don’t head back into lockdown again in the future.

Whilst as individuals we are all planning things that we can do with our friends and families post June 2021, employers also need to focus on things that they need to consider as people return to the office, either because they have been working from home or placed on furlough. Just a few of these considerations are highlighted below.

Many employees across many different industry types and sectors have been furloughed since March/April 2020. These furloughed employees have likely gone through a roller coaster of emotions throughout this time and perhaps have asked themselves some of the following questions:

  • How can I keep a roof over my head and pay my bills?
  • When will/can I go back to work?
  • What will work be like when I return?
  • How will I get back into the routine of work?
  • How is my mental health and wellbeing?

Employers need to be mindful of all the above in relation to the employees who are returning to work and exploring methods and services that they can use and adopt to try to alleviate these understandable concerns and anxieties.

However, it is also of equal importance that employers are mindful of the employees that have been working throughout the pandemic also. These employees may:

  • not have had a break from work in the traditional way with a holiday abroad or something similar which has allowed them to try and switch off and unwind. As a result, could they be physically and/or mentally fatigued or burning out?
  • be suffering from ‘guilt’ in that their financial and mental wellbeing could be at a comparative higher level than a colleague by virtue of the fact that they have been working and therefore receiving a full salary whereas a colleague has not
  • feel worried about potential conflict with returning employees in terms of job roles and ‘who does’ what on an ongoing basis. Will things just go back to how they were or have things changed?

Undoubtedly there will be requests from employees to employers about potentially working from home and employers need to be mindful of how they handle these requests for not only the employees who have enquired about this change in daily routine but also the colleagues of the employees and what effect, positively or negatively this could have on them.

Finally, but certainly no less important than any of the points raised above is motivation. How will Employers motivate their workforce to ‘hit the ground running’ and help get the business back to where it was heading pre-lockdown? Pay awards and the like will be tough to give if the turnover and resulting profits are not there at an initial stage and offering additional holiday or time off as a reward incentive may not necessarily be a prudent step from an operational point of view.

For employers to try and navigate a way through the above conundrums alone is going to be more difficult than ever and therefore now more than ever is the time for employers to call on its professional connections and business advisers whether this be employment lawyers, business advisers, bank managers, payroll experts, employee benefit consultants to share with you what other employers are doing, what services are out there to help you and understand what services you already have but have not tapped into?

There is certainly no one size fits all in answering any of the above, so I encourage all employers to simply ask the question of your professional advisers, Can you help us?

If any of the help required from an employer is in relation to Employee Benefits including workplace pensions, please reach out to Wingate Benefit Solutions on 01883 332260 or at info@wingatebs.com and one of our team would be delighted to help.