Friends Provident to launch flexible benefits

Financial services firm, Friends Provident is to launch a flexible benefits scheme for its 4,100 employees within the next 12 months.

It is also introducing online total reward statements and online pay slips to help ensure that all employees have a sound understanding of their benefits package. The firm has provided paper-based total reward statements to employees since 2005.

Peter Harris, rewards and benefits manager at the firm, said: “We want to ensure that we have a good total rewards offering and that we remain competitive within the marketplace.”

Staff are to be consulted on what they want from their flexible benefits scheme via online benefits questionnaires and focus groups.

“We want to use this as an opportunity to review our benefits offering and look at what package we need for the future. Benefits that were popular in the last century will not necessarily cut the mustard in the future,” added Harris.

Friends Provident currently provides childcare vouchers, a cycle-to-work scheme and the opportunity to salary sacrifice payments into a defined contribution pension scheme.

The firm is currently undecided as to whether to introduce a flexible benefits platform in April 2008 with existing benefits or to wait until later in the year when it will be able to include additional options.

The financial firm is considering adding a range of new perks that include a carbon-offsetting initiative and on-site meal vouchers. It is also investigating how new benefits can be brought in to assist employees who are paying off student debts or are trying to get onto the housing market.

“I would rather have four or five truly valued benefits instead of a plethora of benefits with very little take-up.

“Also, we are considering if it is best to follow the herd or strike out and offer a different benefits scheme from the norm,” explained Harris.