Balancing business needs with employee benefits feedback

08 November, 2019

66% of employees say that benefits are as or more important than salary when it comes to attraction and retention. So, when your staff are telling you they want better benefits, it's time to listen. Or face disengaged staff and high turnover. It’s not always possible to give staff everything they want, so how do you balance bottom-up employee feedback with business needs?

 

Step 1 - start with strategy

Before you make any changes to your benefits, it’s a good idea to firm up where your organisation is heading and what your package needs to deliver by asking questions like:

  • Do our existing employee benefits support organisational objectives like corporate social responsibility, the green agenda and employee health and wellbeing?
  • What changes can we see coming and will our benefits be fit for purpose in the future for our organisation and staff?
  • How well do our benefits integrate with each other? Could we create better outcomes for our employees and our organisation with joined up benefits?
  • Do we have the budget to pay for additional benefits or will they need to be employee-funded?
  • How can we control benefit cost, for example, is salary sacrifice an option for specific benefits? If so, what will we do with any employer NIC savings?
  • Do we have the technology to effectively manage employee benefits both now and if our package changes?
  • What would our benefits need to look like to make it easier to attract and retain employees?
  • What are our competitors doing in the benefits space?

With a high level idea about your organisational needs, you’re ready to take the next step by carrying out a more detailed consultation with staff.

 

Step 2 - understand employee need

If your organisation uses market data, you’ll already have a good idea about how well your reward package compares to other organisations. What it won’t tell you is if it’s a good fit for your staff.

There’s little point in spending time, money and effort introducing a range of benefits if they don’t meet your employees’ needs and expectations. Which is why conducting focus groups or anonymous online surveys are an important aspect of any benefits change programme.

With the powerful combination of organisational and employee insight, you’re ready to take the next step in delivering benefits that work for everyone.

 

Step 3 - cost up different employee benefit options

Now you’ve got a range of benefit options to explore, it’s time to consider how to implement them. Are certain benefits usually paid for by the company for senior roles but offered to staff as a voluntary, self-paid benefit to everyone else?

To create a compelling business case for benefit sign-off, you’ll need to undertake a cost-benefit analysis that includes:

  • Identifying tax breaks or grants that could reduce costs
  • Understanding the administrative support required
  • Finding a provider with the right technology to make it easy to operate the benefit
  • The potential impact of the new benefit on key metrics like turnover, sickness absence and engagement

Of course, not all ramifications will be financial. In fact, when it comes to people, the advantages that benefits bring can often be intangible. For example, introducing a nice coffee machine won’t deliver employer national insurance contribution savings but it can make a huge difference to staff morale.

 

Step 4 - set up and communicate

As soon as you ask staff for their views on benefits you’re setting expectations. Which is why a well-considered communications campaign is essential to managing expectations and ensuring benefit take up. By keeping everyone outside the project team informed of progress, you’ll create excitement so when your benefit is launched it’s a great success.

You’ll need a big bang communication to announce your new benefit plus clear communications to ensure people understand what the benefit is, how it helps them, how to take it up and any salary sacrifice savings that are available (if applicable).

By taking these steps, you’ll integrate bottom-up feedback from your staff with strategic business requirements, resulting in a brilliant benefit package that works for everyone.
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