RSA involves staff in benefits to boost take up

Global insurance business RSA embarked on a journey to understand the benefits needs of its 7,800 UK employees about three years ago.

Ed Airey, UK reward manager, says the journey reflects the organisation’s progression from providing a benefits package that is just there for staff to find, and if they find it, then they use it, to one that better understands what employees want.

“Also, it is understanding better some of our different [employee] groups and the best way to communicate with them,” he says. “We see those two angles almost being equally as important: both the [benefits] offering itself and the communications around that offering.”

To facilitate its benefits journey, RSA implemented a new platform, in conjunction with Aon Hewitt, and launched an organisation-wide challenge inviting employees to design their own benefit.

The Arctic Challenge, launched two years ago, invited staff to design a green-themed benefit in line with the organisation’s corporate and social responsibility efforts, which include a carbon dioxide (CO2)-offsetting scheme.

The winning team, which won a trip to the North Pole, devised a green car scheme that will provide employees with low CO2-emission cars and insurance from RSA itself. “There is a sense of pride because of it being based heavily around an RSA product,” says Airey. “There’s a heavy green angle, too, and a good-value benefit.”

RSA’s initiative boosted take-up rates across its benefits package, which includes a pension scheme, private medical insurance, dental healthcare, critical illness and a bikes-for-work scheme, from below 25% a few years ago to about 53% at the end of last year.

Airey adds: “Obviously, if take-up rates are low, then employers are not getting the best value they can get from their providers and they are also not maximising the levels of engagement they could have from the business.”

The car scheme, provided by Zenith, will launch in September.

Meanwhile, Airey will continue to focus on specific employee groups for which benefit take-up rates remain low, which last year included home-based staff.

“Each year, we are trying to incrementally grow the number of employees that are aware of and engaged with our benefits,” he says.

Internal research performed by Airey will this year see the organisation analyse benefits take-up according to the site where staff work, their grade and the number of years they have worked for RSA. “So, rather than looking at take-up site by site and grade by grade, we’ve started to look at what certain grades [of employees] at certain sites with certain years’ service are doing,” says Airey.

“We don’t do anything now without data around it, so we won’t make a change to a benefit, in terms of the provider and the actual benefit itself, unless we have some level of MI [management information] around it.

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“Traditionally, quite a lot of organisations have an idea that certain benefits sound great to have and just do it, but we’re really trying to engage with the business to understand what employees want from their benefits offering.”

RSA is also using employees’ faces in its benefits communication strategy to help boost engagement with the help of its communications adviser, Shilling.