Simon Naylor: Has flexible benefits had its day?

The question conjures up images of a ‘Golden Age of Flex’. In truth I don’t think there has been a golden era of flex… yet.


There are numerous examples of organisations making use of flex to deliver tactical solutions, such as lower administration costs or to manage benefit complexity.

In the Travis Perkins Group, we think flex has the potential to be more, to be part of a broad employee value proposition (EVP).

Our own journey started two years ago with auto-enrolment (AE). We were one of the first to stage. We had 4,000 people in four defined contribution pension schemes with multiple contribution structures.

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Administration was complex and expensive, engagement and perceived value were lower than we would have liked. We moved to Standard Life’s master trust scheme, which allowed us to implement auto-enrolment and move to one single scheme.

People joining could (and can) choose to increase their contributions to receive a larger contribution from the company. We reduced administration but, importantly, increased flexibility and added value.

We got 19,000 colleagues engaged in pensions. Then we started thinking, what if we could use technology to transform pensions

A plan was born.

Two years later, we appointed KPMG as a partner and implemented its emxhub technology. We have a single online reward portal branded myPerks. It encompasses a full flexible benefits scheme myBenefits and offers genuine flexibility. Many benefits are available through open enrolment, allowing employees to choose to take up a benefit when it suits them, not when it suits our administrative preferences.

Nearly half of the group’s workforce are offline, so it was a challenge to communicate reward and benefits information easily. That said, the site can be accessed securely through any device, including PC, tablet or smartphone, so once employees know about myPerks they can register and access it any time and anywhere.

We have started to deliver our broad-based solution. The health and wellbeing section on the site sees almost 500 hits per month. We are now planning to launch new sections which combine flex benefits, and are targeting employees with appropriate discounts, support and guidance. These are likely to include deals for cars, financial awareness and recognition in the short-to-medium term, as well as total reward statements

We joined up our benefits thinking by launching a technology proposition funded through a tax-efficient solution that gives employees the freedom to choose what they want, when they want it, and access to do so when and where they want to.

People talk about EVPs and typically they talk about creating something that is unique, relevant and compelling to act as a key driver of talent, attraction, engagement and retention. Our ambition is to evolve myPerks and build our employee value proposition with flex as the centrepiece.

Feedback and continual development are key, but get this right and we can use flex to help us build out our EVP and deliver value back to the group. We remain convinced that flex has still to have its day as a part of that EVP whole. Flex is alive and kicking here.

Simon Naylor is group reward manager at Travis Perkins.