Debi O’Donovan: Keeping up with a changing benefits market

Over the past year, several benefits start-up companies have asked to meet me before launching new services into our marketplace.

The reason I find this notable, over and above the rising number of product launches from bigger, established companies, is because it shows the dynamism that has been entering our market over the past six to 10 months.

I get the feeling we are seeing a tangible change in the way benefits will be delivered and communicated to employees.

New suppliers hope to challenge established players by introducing completely new ways of looking at benefits, while older players are using their insights and client research to reshape their offerings for a new world order.

After the launch of auto-enrolment, we are also seeing an increasing appetite among some larger employers to look at wider pensions and benefits strategies. This is because some had to put all their focus on auto-enrolment in the past few years, often dislocating it from other benefits and reward simply to meet staging date deadlines. Now the pension needs to be put back into the overall strategy.

Others had to act in haste to get auto-enrolment done at all and are already repenting (without much leisure) by having to review what they did and which product they did it with.

Meanwhile, those that did it by the book, with loads of planning and careful strategic thinking, are reaping the rewards and moving forward ready for a world where the economy is picking up and the need to hold on to talent is again becoming a pressing issue.

Whichever camp your organisation has fallen into (or will fall into as you stage into auto-enrolment), this demonstrates the importance of benefits managers being fully equipped to understand the benefits, pensions and insurance market, the employment market, and legal and tax changes.

To this end, we commissioned our cover story (Branching out). We wanted to find out how benefits managers can develop their careers and get the training or qualifications they need. Obviously, Employee Benefits’ own Employee Benefits Academy offers short and bespoke courses, but we wanted insights from other trainers, recruiters and professionals in the market.

The options to advance your knowledge are wider than they might first appear.

So this may be time to get an early New Year’s resolution in the diary to improve your career, either in your current role or a new one.

Debi O’Donovan
Employee Benefits
Tweet: @DebiODonovan