Cirencester Friendly Society gives employees choice over benefits

Cotswolds-based income protection provider Cirencester Friendly Society employs around 100 people across a range of roles including underwriting, claims and sales and development. Its human resources director, Mike Hazell, joined in 2021.

“The organisation offered a generous range of benefits, but employees had to go through a manual process if they wanted to change anything,” he says. “To meet evolving employee expectations and ensure everyone was making the most of these benefits, we knew we had to move away from paper forms.”

To make this a reality, it implemented a new digital benefits platform. This allows employees to make changes to their benefits, subject to any conditions, when they want. As an example, they can flex their pensions contributions from 0 to 10% and the change would be effective the following month.

New benefits were also introduced including a health cash plan giving money back for a range of everyday health expenses such as dental and optical check-ups, physiotherapy, and prescriptions. “We also have advisers coming in twice a year to run financial planning workshops. These are split by age, under and over 50s, to help employees make the most of their money,” Hazell explains.

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As well as revamping the benefits package, the friendly society also implemented a flexible-working policy. “Covid-19 smashed the old nine-to-five routine to pieces,” says Hazell. “Employees can flex their hours and, depending on business needs, decide whether they work from home or in the office. Nothing is set in stone: if someone wants to start at 8am and finish at 6pm so they can do the school run, that’s not a problem.”

Giving employees the freedom to set their own hours is paying dividends for the organisation. While most organisations have turnover rates of around 15%, it is less than half that at Cirencester Friendly Society, says Hazell.