Editor’s comment

Employee benefits have come a long way in the past decade or so, evolving into an invaluable set of tools that help employers attract, retain and engage talent.

At employers’ disposal is an armoury of perks that includes pensions, shares, bonuses, healthcare, cars and childcare. Employers have also put in place voluntary and flexible benefits schemes that give employees the opportunity to select benefits that suit their lifestyles.

But, going forward, the tough economic climate will put pressure on compensation and benefits professionals to manage their benefits budgets more efficiently and even make cuts. In this environment, compensation and benefits experts should make sure that they are extracting maximum value for money from their benefits, and be in a position to defend them. This means producing statistics that demonstrate, for example, how their benefits strategy helps to reduce the cost of sickness absence and improves employee productivity.

Ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees will become even more important as organisations are forced to operate with reduced workforces. Employers will also have to ensure that those staff who remain are fully motivated and feel valued despite being faced with possible salary freezes. Communicating the full value of benefits packages in an effective manner will therefore be essential.

Upcoming legislative changes also mean that employers will have to pay closer attention to work-life balance issues, with an extension to the right to request flexible working, and also to pensions provision in the run-up to 2012 when auto-enrolment, compulsory employer and employee contributions, and personal accounts will all be introduced.

All-in-all, the tough times ahead will require innovative thinking. Hopefully, you will be able to benefit from some of views and tips put forward by the thought leaders featured in this supplement.