Shire Pharmaceuticals changes perks in flexible benefits plan

EXCLUSIVE: Shire Pharmaceuticals has launched a holiday purchase scheme, removed its corporate individual savings account (Isa) and made changes to when employees can change their pension contributions.

The changes were effective from 1 April 2013. They formed part of a full streamlining of the pharmaceutical firm’s online flexible benefits scheme during its annual enrolment period at the end of February and beginning of March.

Jane Fenwick, associate director, total rewards at Shire Pharmaceuticals, said: “The benefits mix was really traditional and weighted towards insurance benefits. It was a missed opportunity to look at our demographic. We’re a young company and there is a limited appeal for a great chunk of our employees for lots of insured benefits.”

Staff can buy up to two days extra holiday a year, an option selected by 10% of staff during the open enrolment period. Fenwick added: “I would have preferred to go in with five, but I think it is baby steps.”

The corporate Isa, which was introduced with the flexible benefits scheme in 2011, had a very low take-up rate of 0.5%, so it was removed. “In the future, if we look at something like a corporate wrap, we would look for something a bit more cohesive,” said Fenwick. “It was not cohesive with the rest of the benefits.”

It also changed its pension plan so that staff could increase or decrease contribution levels at any point of the year, rather than just during the annual enrolment period. Fenwick added: “In advance of that we did a load of education sessions and one-to-one sessions with our advisers, Hargreaves Lansdown. It was about retirement planning and looking at their retirement date.”

Since the enrolment period, there has been a 6% decrease among employees who select the minimum pension contributions (3.5%), a 4.5% increase in total pension contributions between 12% and 19%, and a 1.2% increase in total pension contributions over 20%.

The organisation also provides access to health screenings, which include a full scan every five years with provider Lifescan and a less invasive annual scan with Nuffield Health. The screenings were separated in the flexible benefits package so that employees could differentiate between them.

“What we’ve done in previous years is just lump them both into one and we didn’t really articulate the different purposes,” says Fenwick. “We separated them out as two distinct benefits and renamed them.

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The flexible benefits scheme is provided by Vebnet.

Find out how Shire Pharmaceuticals has streamlined the structure and communications of its online flexible benefits scheme.