Getting maximum business benefit from employee benefits

by 18 Mar 2008

Q. We are looking to roll out an employee benefits program to our employees. What steps can I take to ensure that it assists to achieve our 2008 HR objectives of staff attraction and retention, and make sure we get the maximum return on our investment?

A. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that the employee benefits program assists to achieve your 2008 HR objectives and importantly achieves a maximum return on your investment.

Review current and competitors offering. The first step is to review your staff demographics, engagement surveys and remuneration and benefits surveys to determine the level of satisfaction with their benefits. Is there a consistent theme that you can address?

Once you have reviewed your benefits, it is important to take the time to review your competitors’ offerings. In the current employment market, a dynamic benefits offering can enhance your value proposition and determine whether you are delivering a more extensive benefits range than your key competitors. This is of increased importance if you are hiring graduates, who are taking salary, training and career development opportunities as given, and are seeking benefits that can directly enhance their immediate lifestyle.

Research employee benefits options. Once you have determined your current positioning, you can then look at strategies to move forward. There are two main options: develop a benefits program internally or outsource to an experienced employee benefits provider. When comparing the two, take into account your negotiating strength based on your employee numbers. An experienced external employee benefits provider will negotiate benefits across all clients, for a combined group in excess of 100,000 people.

Also consider the volume of administration involved in answering questions and managing supplier relationships. Finally consider the style and quality of communications you can provide versus an external provider, as communications are the key to successful benefits programs.

Align your benefits mix and communication plan to your key HR objectives. For example, if recruitment was a key driver, you could consider having your recruiting managers demonstrate branded communications as part of your recruitment process. You could also provide an overview of your benefits with your letter of offer and/or welcome kits.

If retention is a key driver, ensure that the benefits program has a good mix of benefits that create excitement, along with the financial stables. For example, pre-release concert or sporting tickets or shopping benefits may create a significantly greater impact than a revised death and disability cover.

Create a high impact program launch. An effective launch will assist to boost morale, engagement as well as raise awareness of the key areas in your benefits program and how to access them. Wherever possible, utilise a live launch and provide tangible materials for staff to review and access immediately.

Have visible top down support. Visible top-down support through the launch process and on an ongoing basis is essential. Have your launch material signed off by either by the HR director or CEO and have them introduce any launch presentations.

Maintain awareness through regular topical communications. Communications are the make or break of benefits programs. Allocate some time to ensure the benefits program communications are effective. Hardcopy communications provided to the home for family-wide access tend to generate the highest response levels, although softcopy communications should also form an important part of your communication mix. Wherever possible include high levels of branding, to ensure your company receives the maximum recognition, appreciation and loyalty for its investment in its people.

Utilising these key steps, you will find that an employee benefits program provides an excellent tool to achieve your HR objectives in 2008.

By Kylie Green, national business development manager, API Leisure & Lifestyle.