Employee benefits – Have you got the right strategy?

by External01 Apr 2015
In Australia, there is still a considerable gap between organisations that do employee benefits effectively and those that offer their employees little beyond salary and superannuation. Russell Flint outlines why strategy alignment is key.

Today, creating a benefits policy and proposition for your employees is relatively easy with a bit of time and forward thinking. While many organisations still make some big ticket and creative benefits available, it has been proven many times that benefits don’t have to be complicated or expensive to be unique, or resonate with your employees.

Despite the potential simplicity in setting up a program, organisations can often be daunted about the resource and investment required in going down this path to enhance their employee value proposition.

This isn’t the case, which is great news all round.

To provide some context, people at different stages in life place value in different things, and this is a key point to remember when looking to develop an employee benefits program. Consider your employee demographics and the end goal should be a set of initiatives that are widely accessible, understood and (perhaps most importantly) valued by your staff.

Start with the fundamental benefits, get your basics in place first and then grow from there before you look to impress with an elaborate games room. Not every organisation can develop a benefits program like Google, so while the statutory options may seem uninspiring, when they’re not met it can lead to dissatisfied and disengaged employees. I can assure you that no pool table, subsidised café on site or beer fridge is going to fix that, so put the cart before the horse when choosing what fits.

Every company has bigger goals or objectives that they stand for or are working towards. Your employee benefits should align to these where they can. It will ensure that what you offer contributes to the bigger picture you’re creating for your business. For example, improving the health of your employees could positively impact productivity, so wellbeing initiatives or access to fresh fruit makes sense for both employee and organisation.

It’s important to then look at what you want to compare to or compete against, considering competitors’ benefits programs and your specific industry standards. Think about the ‘personality’ of your organisation or the product/service you deliver to your market. There isn’t a one size fits all or copycat approach that will necessarily work, but there will be some obvious benefit choices based on your business and the type of tasks, lifestyles and financial priorities of your people.

Choice is so important. An inflexible benefits program will be viewed far less positively than one with options. It’s fairly simple, the wider the offering, the increased likelihood you can meet the individual needs of your whole employee base. So what could that look like in real terms?
  • Discounted gym memberships or health insurance
  • Annual leave benefits such as bonus days or the ability to purchase additional days
  • Pets to work days
  • Fruit baskets
  • Access to affordable movie tickets or every day shopping
  • Discounts at a local coffee shop
  • Recognition for great work
  • The concept of ‘doona or duvet days’ are becoming much more common

The key trend in all of these benefits is not about cost or extravagance. Instead they demonstrate an employer’s investment in its people. They build a connection beyond employees being expected to deliver day in day out, in return for only a wage.

For those organisations that have implemented a strategy in this space it is a huge opportunity that is being missed. Are you a business losing out on attracting skilled talent? How much could you reduce your employee turnover if you got your employee benefits right?

Are you really showing your employees that you are investing in them, beyond salary?

Today, it isn’t hard to execute a compelling proposition that doesn’t cost the world and will appeal to all demographics.

But I still urge you to first consider these simple elements when developing your employee benefits strategy. You will show your people that there is far more to your relationship than just delivering shareholder value, KPIs and year-on-year growth.

About the author
Russell Flint, Senior Manager of Business Development at accumulate has a passion for helping businesses improve their culture and performance through benefits, recognition, reward and incentives.