Measuring and communicating flexible benefits

This article is supplied by Benefex, sponsors of the www.employeebenefits.co.uk flexible benefits channel

How can we offer benefits better suited to our target population?

According to the Employee Benefits Flex Research 2008, four out of five employers believe the main advantage of Flex is that it recognises the diverse needs and values of the workforce. However, the mix of benefits needs to be targeted to ensure that they are suited to your organisations workforce – simply offering a range of benefits is often not enough to fully engage employees.

When we work with clients we encourage them to plan their benefit selection carefully using the following as key methods:

  • Employee Focus Groups
  • Surveys
  • Employee Demographic data

Focus groups offer qualitative information about what employees want from their benefit package, helping to ensure that the range of benefits you implement are appropriate and likely to be well received. Employee demographics and surveys allow you to analyse your employee population and make choices of what benefits to offer on qualitative data, for example are your employees mainly male or is there a dominance of younger employees?

Once you understand the make-up of your employee base it is much easier to tailor a benefits package that is appealing to your employees, maximising employee engagement with the scheme and the take-up of the benefits offered.

How can we evaluate and monitor our scheme to ensure employee satisfaction?

In addition to careful planning of your Flex scheme, it is also important to review the included benefits on a regular basis to check that the offering is still appealing to employees and identify any gaps where new benefits could be added to the scheme to refresh employee’s interest.

The same qualitative methods can be used as implemented in the planning stages, such as focus groups and surveys, however once the scheme has been up and running there are additional indicators that can be analysed to assess employee satisfaction with the scheme, for example;

  • Number of employees who:
    – Logged into the benefit system
    – Modelled their benefits package
    – Submitted their benefit choices
    – Changed their benefit choices from previous years
    – Selection of benefits away from standard terms and conditions
  • Improvements to employee retention rates The data provided gives a good indication of how engaged employees are with the scheme, as a high number of employees modelling, changing and ultimately submitting their benefit choices shows that the benefit package is offering an appropriate selection of benefits.

Information on the take up of individual benefits can also be used to indicate which benefits have a low take-up, enabling you to modify the scheme according to employee’s preferences. Focus groups and surveys will also help you to identify ‘pinch points’ where improvements could be made. Employee surveys can also be conducted via the telephone to gather more in-depth information.

We recommend that our clients undertake a review of their benefit package at least annually to keep the scheme fresh and employees engaged with what is on offer.

What is the best way to communicate with a diverse workforce?

When executing an effective communication strategy it is essential to focus on providing communications that are accessible, appropriate and targeted to their designated audience.

We recommend that specific employee groups receive communications targeted to them in a way that will achieve maximum engagement. Audiences can be segmented in various ways, including by age, length of service, job role and salary bracket.

We find the best way of making sure everyone gets the information they need is to issue everyone with core information about the benefits package and then supplement this with additional information directed at each segment. For example, those with children could receive additional information on childcare benefits or young employees who are not enrolled in a pension scheme could receive targeted communications explaining the benefits of starting a pension from a young age.This ensures that whilst nobody is left out, targeted messages are reinforced.

When it comes to communication methods, we encourage clients to think about whom they are communicating with and the reaction you would like to create. This entails talking appropriately to your audience; using the correct tone, format and type of media will engage with your workforce at the right level.

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It is also important to use methods that appeal to your workforce – these are often the communication channels that have been successful in the past. You will also need to decide whether offline, online or a mixture of communication channels is most appropriate for your workforce.

We would recommend using as many channels as possible at several points during your campaign, including both written and face to face communication, to maximise the marketing messages and generate maximum employee engagement and take-up.