What does the future hold for employee benefit providers?

It is common sense to ensure that, wherever possible, the people who make up organisations feel good about themselves and their working environment. This key premise for employee benefit providers has not changed.

Relevant and effective employee benefits must play a key role in delivering good work environments.

 

Lack of Innovation

The employee benefits industry is still suffering from too few new ideas and little innovation. Jack Trout, a leading strategist, said:

‘Good business is always the result of great ideas but great ideas don’t always result in good business’.

In terms of the employee benefit industry, this refers to how the sector is littered with the debris of broken products, product proliferation and complexity.

 

Practical Benefits 

Despite the opportunities that the changed landscape in pensions has offered in recent years, health and protection providers are not moving quickly enough to seize the moment and meet the needs of both employers and employees.

According to the latest Swiss Re reports, the protection gap has become larger and too few providers are focusing on the delivery of tangible practical benefits. The traditional protection industry is still focused on designing products by internal committees and failing to really engage with customers, which means that the great opportunity presented by pension products has not been seized upon.

 

Immediate Benefits

Employees themselves are becoming less satisfied with their benefits; in its recent annual survey, Willis PMI Group, part of Willis Towers Watson, found that only 40% of employees are happy with their employee benefit schemes.

Research conducted by many organisations keeps telling us that employees want tangible products that make an immediate difference to their lives. Since the 2008 financial crisis, employers have been under constant budget pressures in terms of managing their staff costs and are keen to find new ways of providing affordable employee benefits to ensure that they can immediately protect and support their employees. When employees can reap benefits straight away, it makes them feel more satisfied with their employee benefits.

 

Salary Sacrifice

A product area that has received less attention is that of salary sacrifice schemes. These offer immediate solutions to employees’ needs and can help to create family friendly work environments.

There are many small employee benefits providers, such as ourselves, which offer a wide choice of services ranging from childcare vouchers, nursery provision and retail discounts to environmentally friendly services such as cycle to work schemes. All of these products are practical and can be consumed by employees immediately and therefore drive employee engagement from day one. These products are also clear and transparent so that employees understand what they are buying and that it fits their needs at present and into the future.

Salary sacrifice is a fantastic way to engage with employees and save money for both the employee and organisation, by making savings in tax and national insurance contributions.

 

Work-Life Balance

Family friendly benefits are increasingly important as employees give a greater focus to work-life balance concerns.  Women now account for nearly half of the workforce in the UK, and with over 80% of them becoming mothers during their working life and so these sorts of benefits have a vitally important role to play.

Employers offering high quality employee benefits and childcare provision often see it as one of the most effective ways of supporting and rewarding their employees. This can be combined with employee assistance programmes to deliver wider support and advice around other dependants that the family may need to look after.

 

Busy Bees Benefits work with more than 16,500 employers across the UK, offering a variety of employee product solutions that work actively to engage, protect and reward employees. If you would like more information on Busy Bees Benefits and Smart Hive, please call 0330 333 9100 or email information@busybeesbenefits.com.