Benefits on a budget: three things to consider when offering voluntary benefits

Voluntary benefit schemes often include online discounts. REX/Mint Images

Recent research by XpertHR found that businesses spend around 10% of the total paybill on employee benefits, and that around four in 10 expect this spend to increase over the coming year.

Benefits are acknowledged as a key recruitment and retention tool, but what can those employers who can’t afford to spend any more on benefits do to increase the scope and appeal of their benefits offering?

Voluntary benefits schemes provide employees with access to discounts on products and services that are not available on the high street. They fall outside of the traditional definition of employer-provided benefits such as pensions, bonuses and holiday, but can significantly enhance the benefits package and help make the employer an employer of choice.

Below are three key things to think about when drawing up your voluntary benefits programme.

1. In-house or third-party?

A voluntary benefits scheme run by a third-party supplier could offer employees access to discounts on hundreds of goods and services, but employers may have to pay for access for each employee regardless of whether or not they use the service. Employers should assess the cost of the service against what they gain – for example, in terms of employee engagement or ease of recruitment.

An alternative way of running voluntary benefits is to operate the scheme in-house, with the employer negotiating directly with local and national suppliers and then passing the offers on to their employees. Although this saves on paying a service provider, employers should make sure that they invest the time in securing a range of discounts to appeal to employees and keep them up to date.

2. What benefits to offer

Running focus groups or surveys with employees can give a useful indication of the different profiles within the employee group and what benefits will appeal to the workers. Having evidence of the type of benefits that will be valued and the likely levels of take-up can be useful in gaining support for building a business case.

3. How to communicate benefits

Whichever method of delivery that employers choose, they need to make sure that they maintain employees’ interest in the scheme. Regular and appropriate communications should be used to retain interest and draw attention to new benefits and savings opportunities.

Employers should plan and regularly review the marketing strategy for the service. A variety of communication methods can be used, including posters, emails, the intranet and social media. Third-party voluntary benefit suppliers will often assist with promotional material or run an email campaign targeting employees or registered users.

This list is based on a detailed XpertHR guide on How to introduce and manage a voluntary benefits scheme.

Comments are closed.