Choosing an employee benefits provider that’s right for you

Having the right employee benefits to suit your workforce is a key part of any employee engagement or EVP strategy. Get it right, and it can help separate you from your competitors. Our blog, Tailor your benefits package to suit the workforce, goes into more detail on why we think this and what you can do about it.

But before you go out and start looking at the latest benefits with all the bells and whistles, how do you source and deliver the employee benefits you have now? Just pause for a moment and really think. Are you engaging with your employees effectively? If the answer is no or you’re little unsure, maybe it’s time for a rethink?

In this blog, we look at what can trigger a review of your employee benefits, choosing a provider that’s a good fit for your company and getting your objectives right from the start. We’ve also created a handy checklist, which will help you map out exactly what you need.

Reviewing your employee benefits provider

There are many factors that can make you want to review your employee benefits provider. And it can be one or a combination of many that will drive your decision for change.

We can’t cover them all in detail, but there are a few we think will strike a chord with most employers, big or small.

The obvious ones are…
> Price and value for money
> The working relationship you have with your supplier and key stakeholders
> Spending less time on admin

What about service quality, or the technology you use to deliver your employee benefits? They’re both pretty important. Or what about user experience? If employees aren’t having a positive experience accessing their benefits, their perception of the employee benefits you offer is damaged and this will reflect poorly on you as their employer too.

It could also be as simple as your contract coming to an end and you want to shop around before signing on the dotted line once again.

In many cases employers are very happy with their provider. But companies evolve; strategies and objectives will change over time. This can mean a provider that’s great now may not be the right fit in the future.

Whatever the reason/s for change, optimising your employee engagement has to be the main aim. Employees want to feel like they’re being rewarded for the hard work they do. It’s critical if you want to retain and attract top talent. Just look at L’Oreal. Yes, they’re a huge company but that doesn’t stop them investing time and money into their Employee Value Proposition.

Ok, so what’s next?

Choosing the provider that’s right for your workforce

There are a variety of employee benefits providers out there, all offering you different things. And it can be tricky trying to find the right one. Like a kid in a sweet shop.

To make it a little easier, we’ll take you through the four most common types of employee benefit providers. We’re not saying you have to choose one of the four, but it will give you a good idea of the options available in the market place.

  1. A portal – this is where an employee selects a benefit they like and is re-directed to the website of the supplier who provides the product. The supplier website will open separately and have separate user logins.
  2. A hybrid portal/platform – sounds fancy I know. To put it simply, usually the regulated products (pension, healthcare and life assurance) are available on the platform. That way they’re easy to get to. All other benefits are accessed through a portal, as mentioned above.
  3. Voluntary benefits – providers that offer their own ‘lifestyle’ benefits, for example shopping and retail discounts, but who can also bolt-on popular salary sacrifice schemes and regulated products delivered through external suppliers.
  4. Fully integrated platform – last but by no means least, there are providers who have all the benefits in one place. There’s no link to external suppliers because they’re fully integrated on the platform. The platform will often offer additional functionality around employee communication & engagement tools. (This is where we fit in.)

But wait. Don’t go and bring in your shiny new provider just yet. Do you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve by offering employee benefits?

Know your objectives from the start

Have a plan. Know exactly what you want to achieve by offering employee benefits. That way you’re in the best possible position to pick the right provider, the right technology and the right benefit schemes to suit your workforce.

Which brings me on to my next point – get to know the people that work for you. It’s likely that you have a multi-generational workforce, who all expect different things from their employee benefits. So, send out surveys, have conversations to gauge what type of employee benefits they’d like.

What type of provider do you want? Is it one of the four above who will manage all aspects of your benefits package, or do you want to go it alone and manage all the suppliers yourself? And what kind of user experience do you want your employees to have?

What’s right for your business can depend on the size of your company, your employees’ expectations and the budget you have available. Staff diversity means your workforce will have a different focus at different times of their lives, so will it be a simple core package of employer paid benefits, a mix of salary sacrifice and voluntary benefits which your staff pay for out of their own pocket, or a fully-blown flexible benefits package?

Can you measure success? You’re running a business at the end of the day so it’s a good idea to set some KPIs. Scheme take-up, staff morale, staff retention and absenteeism rates are just a few examples of how you can measure success.

A final thought to end

I’ll leave you a final thought. Changing your employee benefits provider can take up to six months to complete, and you’ll most likely be tied into a contract, so do your research to make sure it’s the right decision for you and your employees. If you need help mapping out exactly what you need, don’t forget to download our useful checklist.

Good luck!