Employee Benefits To Promote Your Wellbeing
Choosing the right employee benefits for better business wellbeing
How do you choose the employee benefits you offer your staff? Do you stick to what you’ve always offered? Change things around based on a discussion in the boardroom? Or, do you consider what it is your employees need?
Employee benefits are a significant business cost, so it’s likely that the finance team will need to be involved in any decision. After all, every successful business has a budget! However, while the finance team may hold the purse strings, it is the HR team who have the detail that matters. People professionals know better than anyone which benefits are most appropriate since they understand the way employees feel, the way in which people are working and the challenges they face. and this is something that is especially important given the current business climate.
Why employee benefits are more important than ever
The regular 9-5 is over. The COVID pandemic changed so much in business and it’s unlikely that things will return to how they were pre-pandemic. The shift to hybrid working and increase in employees working from home means new challenges. Some people may be anxious about returning to work. Other people may be at work, but with health symptoms that affect their performance – presenteeism. Managers might notice performance deterioration in some employees while others may be thriving.
Even before COVID, employee mental ill health was becoming a problem. A Deloitte study found that poor mental health amongst employees costs employers an incredible £42-£45bn each year. Of that, absence costs around £7bn, presenteeism costs between £27bn and £29bn and labour turnover costs around £9bn.
Post COVID, the scale of mental health challenges is considerable. Changes at work and home have created uncertainty which may lead to stress, anxiety or in some cases depression. Lockdowns have also been seen to increase addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling. Compulsive behaviours triggered by the pandemic are also on the rise.
Physical health problems are becoming a problem too. NHS services are overloaded due to the COVID pandemic causing severe delays in routine NHS treatment services. Employees may need to wait longer for appointments and medical procedures. This delay can cause anxiety as individuals wait longer for medical results and treatments. The delay in treatment can mean increased suffering for employees impacting their performance and ability to work. It’s important to recognise that even if an employee themselves is healthy, having a close family member who is unwell and unable to get access to treatment will impact on that employee’s emotional state.
What benefits are right for your business?
Employers who provide benefits such as private medical insurance schemes and employee assistance programmes can make a tangible difference to their employees’ wellbeing. However, medical support is not the only way to help employee wellbeing. Legal advice and financial support such as debt management can help employee wellbeing by reducing stress and uncertainty from personal situations.
When choosing benefits for your business, it’s important to choose benefits which are valued by your people and show a good return on investment. Consider for instance, what are the costs to your business of mental ill health and sickness absence?
Here are some employee benefits options that may be right for your business:
- critical illness
- dental insurance
- income protection
- life assurance
- enhanced pensions
- private medical insurance
- employee assistance programme
How do you communicate your benefits to your employees?
Having selected benefits for your employees, it’s essential that you explain what employee benefits are available and how to access them. It’s no good simply adding new benefits to your employee portal and expecting everyone to embrace them. To tell employees about the benefits on offer you could:
- inform new employees about the benefits available during their induction
- provide regular benefits updates for all employees
- train line managers to share information about the employee benefits that are available
- provide a ‘benefits clinic’ where employees can informally ask questions about the benefits available.
It is important to reassure employees that the services are confidential and to make them aware that some benefits may only be available to some employees.
Why it’s important to communicate with your employee benefits providers
Your employee benefits providers are a rich source of data which you can use to better understand your business. By limiting your engagement with your benefits providers to paying invoices and updating your annual contract, you will miss out. Regularly speaking to your benefits providers will give access to information you would otherwise miss out on, such as percentage uptake on the benefits you provide. This can help you gauge the ROI on the benefits you are investing in. Conversely, if you uncover a poor uptake on a particular benefit, you can reassess its place in your list of benefits.
Digging into your benefits data can also help you analyse potential links between what’s happening with your workforce. Is there a link with improved staff retention or reduced presenteeism? Have you seen a step-change in employee performance since a new benefit was introduced?
8 top tips to help you review your benefits selection
To make employee benefits selection easier for businesses and more rewarding for employees, I have summarised my 8 top tips. They are
- Start by forming a focus group. This will help you consider your potential new benefits selection. This could include representatives from the finance team, HR, senior management and line managers.
- Draw up list of potential benefits. Don’t feel limited by what you’ve done in the past. Some more unusual benefits options may be very appealing to your employees and have the additional benefit of being comparatively inexpensive.
- Select and prioritise your potential benefits. You will need to consider the age range of your employees when choosing benefits and make sure they are suited to their needs.
- Silent generation 73 years + Working or retired with pension.
- Baby boomers 54-72 years Preparing for retirement/pension.
- Generation X 38-53 years ‘Ham-in-the-sandwich’ employees with eldercare and childcare needs.
- Generation Y 22 -37 years Millennials, may have childcare needs
- Generation Z 18 – 21 years Starters with limited responsibilities outside work
- Consider the value of the benefits to your people and the costs to the business. And always remember your budget! To do this successfully, you must ask your employees directly. You could do this through staff surveys or by talking one-to-one with employees across a representative group. Understanding how factors such as frequency of work-related travel, how often they work remotely and how much tech they feel comfortable using will help you better understand the relevance of the benefits you are considering for your people.
- Choose the right benefits platform. Selecting a platform that is fit for purpose for the longer term will mean more consistency as you avoid changing your provider. This will make life easier for the HR department but also for employees who won’t need to learn an entirely new benefits platform. Look out for:
- Self-service technology that allows employees to change their benefits themselves, whenever they want to.
- Technology that is easy for the HR department to administer.
- Technology that is quick to implement and has good technical support in case of problems.
- Platforms that let you adapt your portal in line with your branding. This gives employees a greater sense of familiarity and security.
- Platforms that tell your employee what their total reward is. Understanding the full value of their salary plus benefits can help improve employee engagement
- Analytics tools to tell you how many employees have taken up your benefits
- Communicate your benefits options clearly. Employees should be able to see at a glance what they will receive and whether there’s a cost to them, such as a salary sacrifice. Make sure this is the case regardless of what device your employees use to review their benefits. Consider that younger employees will probably use their phones to access benefit information – in this day and age it’s better to think ‘mobile first’ when you’re considering what information to include.
- Ensure your data is secure and that you are GDPR compliant. Not only is this a legal obligation, but employees want to know their data and benefits selection alike are confidential.
- Communicate some more. Make sure your people fully understand why you offer the benefits on your list. By explaining the way in which these benefits can help them manage their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing, you will improve employee engagement and be on your way to a healthy business with a healthy, happy workforce.
Please call me if you wish to chat about what benefits to consider for your people in this COVID age.