SAS offers benefits to reflect lifestyle, not generation


With some 700 employees in the UK, software organisation SAS already has a five-generation workforce.

Chris Carter, head of reward, says: “The multi-generational issue is really coming to life now. It is becoming more and more relevant as we talk about how we look at, design and use benefits.

“SAS is quite paternalistic still and we offer a core set of benefits. But we are very conscious about needing to offer people opportunities that will allow them to retire at the earliest possible stage.”

For example, the organisation has deliberately kept employee contributions to its pension scheme as low as possible, both to make it attractive generally and a more compelling ‘sell’ for younger employees.

“Particularly for younger people we know they’re going to be coming into work with debt, so we don’t want to discourage them from joining the scheme,” says Carter. “But, at the same time, we want to get them used to the idea of having to make an employee contribution.”

The organisation has also ensured there is built-in flexibility to many of its benefits. For example, life assurance is set at a standard four times salary, but employees can trade up to 10 times or down to two times. Income protection, too, is set at a minimum level but cover can be increased.

“While [we] can generalise about generations, it is more really about lifestyles,” says Carter. “So, if [an employee is] in their 50s but single and without dependants, say, [they] are maybe not going to be that interested in even four times life assurance [cover].”

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On top of this, a wide-ranging platform encompasses core and voluntary benefits such as private medical insurance, critical illness, travel insurance, bikes for work, holiday trading, gadgets, and salary sacrifice cars.

Carter believes it is important to continually communicate with employees in any way possible, which could include surveying staff about which benefits they want, or holding focus groups. This will then reveal what benefits they want and what they will value.