Until recently benchmarking services were unaffordable to SMEs. But help is at hand.
Employers that offer any level of employee benefits are increasingly waking up to the knowledge that the marketplace is constantly evolving, with new players entering and innovative new products becoming available.
There is therefore a growing appreciation of the need to rebroke schemes regularly to ensure that their terms and conditions don’t become outdated and uncompetitive. But, whilst this is certainly to be recommended, it would be a mistake to think that the need to reappraise benefits stops there.
Growing numbers of forward-thinking employers are in fact now asking us to conduct broader and more in-depth reviews of their overall benefits package to ensure that they remain appropriate to the demographic of their workforce and compare favourably with other firms in their industries.
After all, the last thing any company that has gone to great lengths to attract high calibre staff wants is for them jump ship to a competitor!
But this can all too easily happen if benefits offerings begin to lag behind the industry norm, because research has consistently shown that attractive employee benefits packages can be valued even more highly by employees than increases in salary.
The danger of being out of sync with competitors in this regard has increased significantly during recent years as a result of the implementation of the government’s pension auto-enrolment regime.
Many employers previously felt ahead of the game simply because they provided a company pension scheme. But, now that virtually all firms have to offer at least a basic level of pension scheme, this no longer cuts so much ice as a differentiating factor.
So there has been increasing interest in offering health-related benefits like private medical insurance (PMI), income protection, critical illness cover, health cash plans, dental insurance and personal accident cover.
In order to stand out from the crowd and gain a real edge in recruitment and retention, some companies are also considering everything from subsidised gym memberships and Cycle to Work schemes to Childcare Vouchers workplace nursery benefit.
Finding out exactly what employee benefits competitors are offering can be difficult without suitable expert help as the high costs of most benchmarking services have tended to restrict their usage mainly to large multi-nationals.
SMEs have therefore tended to have to rely on ad-hoc feedback from recruitment consultants or data from the trade press or other publicly available sources – which can have low participator levels and be skewed towards larger companies.
Using an inappropriate benchmark is arguably worse than not benchmarking at all but, fortunately, Chase de Vere has developed a highly reliable and cost-effective benchmarking service that is just as useful to SMEs as it is to larger companies.
Based on extensive research across a number of sectors, it offers both qualitative and quantitative information at prices that should be well within the budgets of most smaller companies.
We can also help companies communicate the benefits of the advantages of the benefits packages they are offering in an engaging manner. This is crucial for maximising return on benefit spend because employees can’t be expected to value what they don’t know about or don’t really understand.
For example, offering total reward statements, that can provide details of all an employee’s different benefits at a glance, can greatly enhance the clarity of the offering.
Nowadays the more progressive employers are in fact boosting their recruitment prospects by providing total reward statements and temporary access to employee benefit portals to prospective employees at interviews before they actually join the company.
Giving the overall package some sort of identity and an appropriate and memorable name can further increase engagement, especially for millennials – whose attention can be hard to gain whilst they are texting and tweeting on their iPhones.
We can also deliver ongoing workshops and seminars to keep employees up to date with some of the key messages about their benefits packages and the changing legislation governing their usage.