Flexible benefits used to lure top candidates

Employers
are increasingly offering their staff a range of non-statutory benefits and
allowances, according to research published today.

Personnel
today’s sister publication IRS Employment Review shows staff benefits,
including private medical insurance, call-out payments, car allowances and
staff discounts can add a significant amount to the total remuneration package
for employees.

The
research, conducted in March and April 2004, is based on a survey of 209 HR
departments.

IRS  Employment Review researcher, Sarah Dennis,
said: “Flexible benefits have become a much talked about and widely researched
innovation in recent years.

"Other
IRS research shows that in spite of the relatively slow development of such
schemes, some HR managers welcomed the concept of salary sacrifice, where
employees give up some of their basic pay in exchange for extra benefits.

“A
major disadvantage of a flexible benefits scheme is the substantial
administration involved in implementing the system to all staff,” she said.
“Those HR professionals who had achieved the implementation of a flexible
benefits package saw this as a major achievement for their organisation."

Key
points of the survey include:


While fewer than one in 10 employers (8 per cent) offer a flexible benefits scheme,
5 per cent of organisations are introducing or considering a flexible benefits
scheme in the next year. Changes to benefits are often deemed necessary for
cost-effectiveness, recruitment and retention initiatives, or to keep up to
date with current employment practice


More than one-third of employers offer staff access to discounts on their own
or external providers’ goods and services


Six in 10 employers reward long service in their organisation. The range of
rewards on offer include cash, gift vouchers and gifts, while some will
contribute towards the cost of a party to celebrate employees’ commitment to
the organisation


More than half of the organisations surveyed make deputising payments to staff
standing in for senior colleagues. Most will pay the difference between the
employee’s own salary and that of the higher position


Almost half the respondent organisations reward their employees who are
qualified first-aiders. Typical payments ranged between £100 and £250 per year.


Just over a third of employers provide a subsidised staff canteen, with more
than half of these organisations making this benefit available to all
employees. Subsidised canteens are a tax-efficient benefit.  Luncheon Vouchers are far less popular with
just one organisation offering them


Less than 2 per cent offer mortgage subsidies, while other employers report the
demise or phasing out of this benefit. This may be due to low interest rates
now widely available.

www.irsemploymentreview.com

By Mike Berry

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