Five tips for flexible benefits schemes

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A flexible benefits programme allows employees to choose from a selection of pay and benefits schemes. It gives every worker an opportunity to create a personal package suitable for their needs and requirements.

A flexible benefits scheme is often a key tool in improving employee retention and satisfaction. However, it can also be invaluable when recruiting – in giving your business that all important competitive edge, it can help to draw the highest calibre of applicants to your job post.

For businesses looking to implement or improve their flexible benefits scheme, Portfolio CBR has put together these five tips.

1. Consider which type of scheme you will offer

Flexible benefits are made accessible through employers, which employees then choose to purchase. When these schemes are made available, workers can often choose to either:

  • Retain their existing salary and choose from a selection of schemes
  • Adjust their salary depending on the amount of benefits they take

The benefits are usually available at a discount price and can be paid through taxable income or other salary arrangements. While an employer may face some initial set-up costs, the worker will then pay for their chosen programme.

Deciding whether to offer flexible benefits in addition to or instead of basic salary will have implications for the costs to your business, and possibly on employee take-up.

2. Choose your benefits wisely

Flexible benefits give workers the ability to make decisions regarding their benefits, enabling their needs and requirements to be met. Furthermore, it shows that an employer understands the varied needs of their employees. However, when putting together the initial scheme, there are a huge number of possible benefits to choose from, such as:

  • Pensions or life insurance
  • Health or dental plans
  • Gym membership
  • Company cars or bikes for work
  • Childcare vouchers and family-friendly holiday allowances

The best benefits for your company will depend on your workforce and their needs, and what will be most attractive to them. A benefits specialist will have a good inkling of what will be most effective, or alternatively, you could conduct an employee survey or focus group to find out what they would prioritise.

3. Weigh up costs

Different benefits carry different costs for the employer, which will need to be weighed up when creating a flexible benefits scheme. Meanwhile, the introduction of salary sacrificing schemes can increase NI savings for employers, whereas certain benefits – including childcare vouchers and bikes for work – may be tax efficient for employees.

The cost of implementation may also be a consideration for businesses looking to introduce a flexible benefits scheme, for example if administration software is needed. Consult a benefits specialist for advice on balancing the costs of flexible benefits.

4. Communicate flexible benefits effectively

It is important that a new flexible benefits scheme, or changes to an existing programme, are effectively communicated to the workforce. Regular internal communications via print and online can be vital to this. Educating employees in how to use the system and how it affects their salary and tax could also encourage take-up.

5. Hire the best benefits manager

Human resources departments are typically responsible for the management of flexible benefits programmes. Therefore, recruiting a competent, skilled candidate for a HR role should be a high priority for companies looking to strengthen their benefits scheme.

If you are specifically looking for a benefits manager to introduce or strengthen your flexible benefits scheme, you should also pinpoint applicants with relevant experience and expertise. In particular, look for applicants who have been involved in the implementation and management of a successful flexible benefits programme in their previous job roles.

Recruitment guidance from Portfolio CBR

Finding high calibre HR professionals can be difficult and time-consuming if you choose to go it alone. That's why so many organisations get in contact with Portfolio CBR when recruiting for benefits jobs. A dedicated consultant will look after your account and offer bespoke support throughout the process, while introducing you to professionals from our talent pool so that you can find the perfect candidate for your job vacancy.

For employers looking to hire a head of reward, reward analyst, global benefits manager or other HR professional specialising in flexible benefits, contact Portfolio CBR on 020 7650 3190. Alternatively register your vacancy by clicking on the button below.