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How much do you need to pay for your benefits platform?

This article looks at what employers should be expecting from their benefit platform providers and how much should they look to pay for a platform as part of their benefits package.

We are living in unprecedented modern times across the globe, that call for courage and vision by its leaders to take the right steps in managing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and come up with practical solutions to take us forward. This is no different in the employee benefits industry. While it is tempting for employers, benefit providers and insurers to suspend investment in benefits and cut costs, I believe that the crisis caused by the pandemic creates the opportunity for the benefits industry to review what it delivers to employers. We must assess how we incentivise them in order to continue to support their employees with a comprehensive benefit provision, as we manage our way out of the crisis.

This article looks at what employers should be expecting from their benefit platform providers and how much should they look to pay for a platform as part of their benefits package.

The benefits industry has traditionally shaped its services to cater for large employers, developing complex flexible benefit solutions as a response in delivering reward and benefit provision. These flex solutions often require expensive IT time and resource and become long term contractual commitments.

 

Growth of digitisation – what does it mean?

However, with the growth of digitisation, there are now much less complex platform solutions available that offer agile, digitally enabled tools and which are easier to use as they don’t require staff selection windows. These new platforms offer employers a more cost-effective way to move forward with their reward and benefits packages. They should make employers reexamine their existing provisions and help them to shift away from managing complex flex platform solutions.

The new digital entrants offer benefit platforms that are quick and easy to set up and don’t involve complex and costly IT configurations. Importantly they provide all the engagement and communication tools that employers need as well as a full range of benefits including importantly, health and well-being and reward and recognition. These new entrants are quickly finding ways to improve the reach of benefit provision with UK businesses and are working to act as a bridge between the ‘old world’ of flex platforms and the ‘new world’ of agile simple affordable solutions.

We know that the world of work will change going forward as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with the workplace of the future shifting to greater remote working and the introduction of social distancing. This means that there will be a greater need by employers to focus on engaging and communicating with employees.

Whilst companies will need to build their overall operating capability and resilience to be able to operate in the new environment, they will also have to be better prepared for future pandemics. This means reviewing their supply chains and offshore manufacturing arrangements and changing how work is organised on and off-site. This includes the pay and benefits structure.

 

How much should I be paying for a benefits platform?

As a consequence, future reward and benefit platforms solutions business must be quick and have low costs to set up and maintain. Here I am talking about set up and running annual costs of below £30,000 a year for large national employers with staff numbers of 10,000 to 100,000, and between £2,000 to £20,000 a year for employers with 100 to 1,000 staff. The new platforms must also cater the large numbers of small businesses employing even smaller numbers of staff. Employers whatever their size, need to work with small agile benefit platform providers that embrace remote working and understand speed of delivery.

These new platform providers can deliver many of the features that traditional flexible benefit platforms provide: they incorporate company branding, have built in employee communications, offer the full range of reward and benefits products, including employee messaging, peer to peer recognition and importantly a full range of wellbeing services. A key attribute is that they only take days to set up and involve no complex payroll alignments. Their aims are straight forward: to keep the provision of employee benefits simple, to take away complexity from over stretched HR teams and improve the reach of benefit provision in the UK. By the time an employer pays for a complex flexible benefits platform solution they could have paid for many of the benefits that they are going to provide.

 

What services should I expect?

Access to health and wellbeing is also fully supported by the new platforms given the increased demand for these services because of the pandemic, with common benefits including virtual GP services, employee assistance programmes, rewards and discounts, peer to peer recognition, health information and support. The role that these products play in future is growing in importance, as employees will be focused on leading healthier lives post the pandemic. New services such as health coaching, on-site health screening, risk and workplace assessments, and occupational health are likely to increase in importance as the focus shifts to managing health resilience, in a world where social distancing becomes a core feature of working and social life.

Whilst speaking of technology, the crisis could also be the spur for all employers irrespective of size of business to move more of the systems and applications that they use to the ‘cloud’. The reason for this is that once we come out of enforced lockdown and self-isolation, businesses will need to adapt and introduce social distancing practices and protocols which these new platforms will be able to support. Having robust systems based in the ‘cloud’ offers much greater bandwidth and capacity than if staff are accessing on-premise servers remotely.

These are extremely challenging times for individuals, families, businesses and indeed whole societies and economies. The benefits industry has a key role to play in supporting customers and societies through the crisis and the recovery, as employers of all sizes embark on the digital transformation of their businesses, to become more agile, responsive and connected enterprises.

 

Wojciech Dochan

Managing Director, Busy Bees Benefits

Provider of the SmartHive Platform busybeesbenefits.com

Smart Hive is an integrated, cost effective employee benefits platform that provides your employees with access to all their health and wellbeing benefits in one place. Talk to a member of our team today or book your very own demonstration.