Withers raises pensions take up

EXCLUSIVE: Global law firm Withers has increased its pensions take up after introducing an online flexible benefits plan and re-branding the benefits offering for its 370 UK employees in April.

Membership of its group personal pension (GPP) scheme has increased to 85%, from 265 members in December 2012 to 308 members in June 2013.

This can be attributed to the firm’s enhanced benefits communication. Prior to the launch of the online flex scheme, the firm’s UK benefits information was available through its intranet and in general literature from its benefits providers. Its benefits were also not previously available as a cohesive package.

Sharon Tebb, compensation and benefits manager at Withers, said: “We offered a large number of benefits and it was not always possible for staff to quickly locate benefit information.” 

Withers’ aims in redesigning its benefits proposition included:

  • Aligning its employee benefits with its corporate values and objectives.
  • Bringing all benefits information together in one central place.
  • Providing employees with easy access to view their personal entitlement, and the overall value of their benefits and reward.
  • Offering a range of benefits that reflect the diversity of its people.
  • Streamlining and improve benefits communication and administration.
  • Providing useful management and benchmarking information.

“It was important for us to take a less paternalistic approach to benefits and ensure employee involvement from the outset of the project,” said Tebb. 

“It is, after all, their benefits programme, so the obvious starting point was to undertake some research and find out what they thought of our existing benefits and what enhancements they would like to see now and in the future.” 

Employee survey

An employee survey, conducted at the end of 2012, showed that 87% of employees were satisfied that the firm provided the benefits they needed. However, employees wanted better access to information about their benefits.

In addition, 45% of respondents did not understand the financial value of their benefits, and over half expressed an interest in being able to increase or reduce core benefits levels to better suit their personal needs. 

Following the survey, Withers appointed Willis Employee Benefits to design its flex plan, which was branded ‘With … your benefit in mind’.

Flexible benefits

The flexible benefits scheme covers four elements: protection and recognition, health and wellbeing, ethics and sustainability, and leisure and lifestyle.

The benefits include a GPP, appointments with an independent financial adviser, life assurance, dental insurance, childcare vouchers, bikes for work, holiday purchase scheme, discounted gym membership, discounts on computers and smartphones, and a payroll-giving scheme.

The programme is managed through an online portal, provided by Willis Employee Benefits and powered by Staffcare technology. From the site, employees have a single sign-on and can view their own tailored total reward statements and make flexible benefits choices.

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Tebb added: “It has created a real feel-good factor around benefits. We also believe that it will have a positive impact from a recruitment and retention perspective.

“The flexible benefits brochure helps us stand out from our competitors and communicates how serious the firm is when it comes to employee reward.”