As a pensions and benefits consultancy, Hymans Robertson faced a challenge in engaging its employees with its benefits package, because many of them were experts already so would be keen to get the best deal possible.
“We have a lot of people in the business who are professionals in this area, so to get something they felt was good, leading practice was quite daunting,” explains HR manager Steve Moore.
It must have got something right though, as Hymans Robertson’s offering not only attracted plaudits from its own staff, it also bagged the Award for Employee Benefits at the 2013 Personnel Today awards.
When it reviewed its benefits strategy in 2012, Hymans Robertson wanted to continue its commitment to maximising the level of customisation to different individuals in the business. One of its top priorities was to review its flexible benefits scheme (FLEX@Hymans) to offer more than 20 distinct benefits. These were segmented into five “lifestyle” categories: health; security; wealth creation; leisure; and charity.
“We chose to do this because it makes the benefits more accessible, employees can see the high-level themes and dip into them as they see fit,” says Moore.
Naturally for a pensions consultancy, the workplace savings scheme was a focal point for innovation. For example, it was one of the first medium-sized employers in the UK to offer a corporate ISA and its pension scheme offers the option to draw down, so that high earners can exercise more flexibility over their savings.
One of the aspects of the scheme that attracted the judges’ eyes, believes Moore, is the innovative way employees can move their salary contributions between short- and long-term savings schemes. Employees can choose to use their pension contribution to top up their workplace ISA, while their employer still makes its contribution to the pension scheme.
It also ensures that 50% of any National Insurance savings made through the scheme are fed back into the pensions contribution pot. “We wanted to show we were serious about saving,” says Moore.
The company had always enjoyed a high level of engagement with its benefits package, but since reviewing its offering, involvement levels are around 98-99%, while pensions take-up is more than 85%. Employee turnover decreased from 11% in April 2011 to 8% in December 2012.
Moore believes much of the company’s success with benefits is down to strong communications. Every year, as the selection window approaches where staff can choose their benefits, the HR department hosts roadshows, sends newsletters and advertises on the company intranet. Employees can use tools such as salary-sacrifice calculators to help them choose the right mix of benefits.
Over the coming months, there are plans to offer new benefit options, such as cancer screening paid for via salary sacrifice. Moore and his team will also be communicating with staff who have recently joined its pensions scheme via auto-enrolment about how they can maximise their contributions to offer them the best possible retirement outcomes.
The judges in this category said Hymans Robertson’s benefits package was “excellent and far-ranging”, and the company has certainly demonstrated it can practise what it preaches as a benefits consultancy with its own staff.