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Are flexible benefits the future?

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Looking to get the best value out of your employee benefit packages? Being more flexible in your approach could be the answer.

Where might we be in a few years’ time? Market trends would suggest that flexible and voluntary benefits are the future of workplace benefits.

It’s all about choice. With a wide range of products available across the employee benefits and group risk markets, it’s all about ensuring employees can pick the benefits that suit them. Choice means that employees get the benefits they value most, while employers get a more engaged workforce and don’t waste any money paying for benefits that their employees don’t actually want. 

Technology is helping to change attitudes

With many more online benefit systems now available to employers, at lower cost, we observe that attitudes are changing and employers are now becoming facilitators, not just providers of benefits. 

In addition, many of the flexible benefit systems available are suitable for a range of business sizes. So whether small, medium or large, implementing a flexible or voluntary benefit programme is within reach for all. 

Employee's value choice

We know that employees value health and financial benefits. A flexible benefits arrangement allows employees to choose the benefits which are best suited to their needs, and they can then adjust the level of cover up or down each year so it remains just right for them.

For example, an employee in their late thirties with two young children will have different needs to a single employee in their early twenties with no kids. The former may be more interested in childcare vouchers to help with everyday costs, and perhaps life and disability insurance to make sure the family is cared for if they die or can’t work due to serious illness or injury.

The latter conversely may be less interested in life cover as they have no dependents, but more interested in a health cash plan to help with everyday healthcare costs. They might also be interested in a cycle to work or gym membership scheme if they are active. 

Family benefits

Many financial and health care benefits aren’t just employee benefits, they’re family benefits. For example, we’ve recently made some changes to our critical illness insurance that allows employees to insure their cohabitant partner and children should they want to. 

What’s more, it doesn’t stop at benefits that can be bought. Choice is all about flexibility. Employees are also likely to value the option of working from home and flexible working hours. Results from a study by Harvard Business Review reveal that these two perks sit within the top four most valued benefits from job seekers.

In a nutshell

Employers are starting to see themselves as facilitators of benefits, not pure providers. They are realising that they can get more value for money by allowing employees to choose the benefits that suit them best.

This improves employee engagement in the programme and delivers better outcomes for both employee and employer. With a number of new online benefit systems now available in the market to employers, introducing such a flexible or voluntary programme is much easier than it once was. 

Chris Morgan

By Chris Morgan

Chris is manager of Distributor Partnerships at Ellipse. www.ellipse.co.uk

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