How I made a difference: employee benefits

Our benefits package was stale and dull, bordering on being uncompetitive for the markets that we operate in. It’s an important part of a company’s brand, and as we recruit in competitive markets, we needed to change it.

And we have a very diverse workforce, as we operate in IT services, IT recruitment and IT solutions. These businesses attract very different types of people – different age profiles, different walks of life and different needs.

We also felt that some people were not aware of what benefits they had, or of how much these cost the company. We’d done very little to help or inform employees around benefits, in particular pensions, and I took on responsibility for updating and better communicating what we could offer our staff.

We started with the pension. The one we had wasn’t practical for a company of this size, so we moved back to the group personal pension. We went through this process with Thomsons Online Benefits, who recommended AXA. We organised education sessions on the pension, at our different sites – something we hadn’t done before, and which went down really well.

Then we looked at the rest of the benefits. Within nine months, we had implemented flexible benefits. We offered core benefits alongside a range of voluntary benefits, such as tax-free bikes to work, health screening and dental insurance. We put the benefits online. Staff reacted really well. There were a few pockets of cynicism, with people looking for a catch, but they were generally very positive about the changes.

With Thomsons, we ran roadshows at our sites, and provided a helpline service, for people with benefit queries or who were having difficulties with the system. We’re not a huge company, and we don’t have experts on every type of benefit, so being able to outsource really helped.

We now include benefits in our post-induction interviews to ensure that new joiners understand what’s on offer. We also call each of them to talk them through the benefits website. Our annual employee survey showed that staff are now much happier with their benefits – we are delighted with the outcome.

Why it worked…

  • We brought in experts

  • We thought about all our employees

  • We had board support

Sarah Cooke, HR director, Parity

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