Debbie Lovewell: How much is too much?

Is it possible to offer too many benefits through a flex scheme? Some people will say there is no such thing as having too many perks, but if employees are to fully appreciate and value each one, it is vital they understand exactly what is on offer. This can be difficult for staff who are faced with a large number of perks which, at first glance, may not all seem particularly relevant to their individual circumstances.

So, rather than packing a flexible benefits scheme full of perks, it can be worth taking the time to select a smaller number of options that have been carefully tailored to suit an organisation’s workforce and ensuring these are communicated well (see cover story).

Adapting flexible benefits schemes to suit workforce demographics is just one of the trends that can be tracked through the evolution of flex. In recent years, this has involved not only reviewing the benefits on offer, but also how flex schemes themselves are structured.

To give employees optimum flexibility, some employers have moved away from the traditional annual flex enrolment window to enable staff to take up benefits on several occasions throughout the year. Although this is not possible for all benefits, offering more than one enrolment window enables employees to adapt their benefits package to suit their needs, which may change during the course of a year (see Window shopping).

Flex is now also much more accessible for employers of all sizes. Historically the preserve of large organisations, cost-effective schemes are now also available for small and medium-sized enterprises (see Opinion).

With the flexible benefits market having already gone through numerous shifts in response to changing employer needs and with more likely changes on the horizon, keeping up to date with the latest developments is crucial.

This year’s Employee Benefits Live, which will take place at Olympia, London, features a stream of conference sessions dedicated to flexible benefits on 26 September. This will cover topics such as what the future holds for flex, the latest in flexible benefits technology, and how flexible benefits can be used to support the generation tasked with caring for elders and children.

Full details of the conference, and how to register, click here

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Read more from the Flexible benefits supplement 2012

Debbie Lovewell, deputy editor, Employee Benefits