You’re satisfied with the employee benefits you have in place and are comfortable with the associated costs. But are you confident your employees fully understand the benefits which are available to them? If you have invested time and money into developing your benefits package, it is vital that you have an effective communication strategy in place to make sure your staff are taking full advantage of what is on offer. Below are some examples of aspects you may wish to consider when developing your communications strategy:

Communication

As the saying goes, ‘communication is key’ and often we find that staff are told about employee benefits when they join a company, as part of their induction, but this doesn’t get mentioned again. Regular communications thereafter will ensure everyone remains informed and engaged. This could include specific communications during different lifestyle events e.g. marriage/the birth of a child.

Appoint Employee Benefits ‘Champions’

One way to fully involve employees in the communication plan is to appoint employee benefit champions. Seeing fellow employees being proactive and positive about the benefits schemes will encourage the workforce as a whole to get involved and participate. This is a great way to spread knowledge and enthusiasm.

Put it in writing

All information about the benefits you offer should be in writing. This should be in a format which is easy to read and digest. Every employee should be given a copy of your benefits handbook, and an overview on how to locate commonly sought information.

Use of Online Platforms

If your company uses an intranet site, this can be a great platform to communicate information about your benefits. You could also look to maximise your use of free social media platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn. An internal group could be created to keep employees up to date on the benefits they have access to.

Staff feedback

Employee opinion surveys are a great way to measure the level of understanding that employees have about the benefits you provide and how engaged they are. These surveys can also provide you with an indication of what benefits your staff value the most. Effective communications don’t need to be costly. You can maximise the use of systems you already have to provide information in a quick and easy way. Wingate can help you to develop your employee benefits strategy, to ensure your staff are making the most of the valuable benefits you provide for them. If you would like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

One of the most common questions that we get asked as advisers is, Can I transfer my old Pension into my current Workplace one?

We find the initial motivation behind wanting to transfer pensions into one arrangement is usually to keep their affairs in good order with everything under ‘one roof’. However, for some people, this very reason is their main reason not to transfer their pension as they do not like to have all their eggs in one basket. This initial choice to potentially transfer a pension or not is purely based on personal preference.

The initial response that we tend to provide to the question of transfers is yes, theoretically you can transfer however you need to understand whether it is in your best interest or not to do so.

We would initially ask what type of pension you are considering to transfer, primarily because if you have an occupational style Pension of a Final Salary Pension, the general rule of thumb is that a transfer is unlikely to be in your best interest.

When reviewing pensions, it’s not uncommon for older style arrangements to have penalties levied as well as a raft of features and benefits lost upon transfer, these are often referred to as ‘safe guarded benefits’ and could be a Guaranteed Annuity Rate, a Guaranteed Minimum Pension or entitlement to more than 25% of the fund as tax-free cash.

The charging structure on your old pension will help clarify if any penalties would be charged on transfer and also helps you see if your old pension is more expensive (higher level of charges such as the Annual Management Charge) to run than your current workplace pension.

If you are reading this blog and are wanting to know whether a transfer of pensions is an option for you to consider, please feel free to email us at info@wingatebs.com or call us in 01883 332260 and one of the team will be able to help. When we have this initial contact with you, we will set out your options which could include general guidance, full transfer advice or directing you to your pension provider, depending on how you would like to proceed.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that income protection is a benefit people need later in life when age-related illnesses and conditions become more common. However, this really is a benefit which should also be valued by younger members of your workforce. More and more people in their 30s are making claims for Income Protection benefits. Cover protects your employees if they are unable to work due to a physical condition but benefit will also be paid for employees who suffer with mental health conditions. Mental health is the second most common cause of income protection claims which may go some way to help explain the increase in claims for those in their 30s.

 

Lifestyle events also often prompt people to think about what cover and protection they have in place. Examples of events which may result in somebody valuing benefits like income protection would be buying a property, having a child or getting married.

Buying a property: When purchasing a property, it is of utmost importance for somebody to protect their home and the ability to make monthly mortgage payments, in the event of being unable to work. Income protection cover provides a replacement monthly income if your employee is unable to work because of long-term illness or injury.

Income protection should by no means be classed as a ‘sick pay’ policy. In addition to the financial benefits, the majority of income protection providers promote early intervention services and rehabilitation support services. This may include access to counselling or physiotherapy to help employees recover and return to work if appropriate.

It’s not only house buyers who need protection. If you’re renting and unable to work through illness or injury, bills still need to be paid if a tenant wants to remain in their property.

Having a child: Starting a family, or extending an existing one, is a very exciting time. However, this means your employees will have dependants relying on their income for them to be looked after. What would happen if an employee’s life was turned upside down by illness or injury? Income protection can help to provide financial support for those affected by illness or injury.

Getting married: Marriage is another event which can urge employees to consider income protection cover. Consider when partners are dependent on each other for splitting financial commitments such as mortgage payments. If one were to be hit by unexpected illness or injury, having protection in place could mean the difference between keeping their home or having to sell up and move.

 

Your younger staff may not fully recognise the benefit of employee protection benefits until they reach some of these milestones in their lives.

 

What should companies do to help all employees recognise the full benefit of a group Income Protection scheme?

  • Identify all additional benefits: Most income protection schemes will include additional ancillary benefits which are included free of charge. These may include an Employee Assistance Programme and Early Intervention and Rehabilitation services.
  • Promote these benefits to your staff: Regularly remind your staff of the additional benefits they have access to. Counselling services are available through an Employee Assistance Programme and promotion of these services is key to driving engagement
  • Review your employee benefits package: If you don’t have cover in place already, introducing policies such as income protection will provide your employees with vital support when they need it the most

 

We can carry out a free no obligation review of your employee benefits package. If you would like to find out more, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual contact or at:

@: info@wingatebs.com

T: 01883 332260

They say any business is only as good as the people it employs – and whilst most employees seek job security in difficult economic times, an improvement in these conditions can lead to those same people looking for something bigger, better, or different.

Recruitment used to focus on salary, but as the makeup of the UK workforce has changed, so has what attracts people to a job and also, what makes them stay. Don’t get me wrong –salary is still important, but flexible working and a decent employee benefit package will be more important to more than you might think. According to a study by OnePoll.com earlier this year, less than 20% of employees surveyed were satisfied with the benefits package provided by their employer and 50% would leave their current employer if they thought they could get a position elsewhere with better benefits. Just 22% preferred extra pay over comprehensive benefits.

So, what can you do about your benefits package to ensure not only that you attract the right people to your company, but also retain them?

Be Competitive
Both salaries and employee benefits should be benchmarked against competitors in your industry AND regularly reviewed. It may be higher pension contribution, provision of income protection or company funded medical insurance that give you the greater choice over who wants to work for you. Conversely, your employees may be more likely to leave if they could get better benefits elsewhere.

By focussing not just on providing financial incentives but also your employees’ (and their family’s) wellbeing, you’ll ensure staff feel cared for and so closer to you, as their employer.

Provide things staff actually value
You may think you’re providing employees with a competitive benefits package, but do they appreciate it? In my experience, an employee’s age, earnings or personal circumstances may vary what appeals to them greatly. Employee surveys are a good way of understanding what your staff want and ensuring the benefits you pay for meet their needs.

Companies that match their benefits package to the actual wants and needs of their workforce, will find that employees are much more likely to engage with what is being offered to them.

Say “Thank You”
Often employees are recognised for their good work by way of financial rewards in the form of bonuses, but these can become ‘expected’ and so possibly not fully valued. Various benefits can be used as a way of thanking staff, in the form of a higher pension contribution, additional company funded benefits, retail vouchers or even an extra day’s leave, an example could be for rewarding staff for long service and loyalty to your company,

If your employees feel valued and cared for, they will feel a greater sense of loyalty to you as their employer – leading to increased productivity and so benefitting the business.

 

As mentioned, the working demographic has changed and will continue to do so in the future; so regularly reviewing your workforce will help you understand what motivates them and ensure your benefits package is fit for purpose. Whilst it’s not possible to prescribe exactly what will work for your company, it’s likely that a good mix of benefits will help promote a culture of health and wellbeing for your employees.

Wingate Benefit Solutions is experienced not only in designing employee benefit packages, but also reviewing and ensuring what a company has is fit for purpose. If you are looking to understand how your benefits package can aid with staff retention and recruitment, the please feel free to contact us to discuss this in more detail.

T: 01883 332260

@: info@wingatebs.com