How can employers introduce and manage a flexible benefits scheme?

XpertHR provides guidance on ‘How to Introduce and Manage a Flexible Benefits Scheme’ for companies looking to offer a flexible benefits programme this year.

According to Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2019[i], flexible benefits programmes continue to be popular, with 45% of employers saying they already have an online benefits or flexible portal, and a further 20% planning to introduce one within the next three years.

However, 71% of the employers with a flexible scheme said communicating the benefits to employees is their biggest challenge, while 36% said they found dealing with benefit design changes difficult.

Jo Stubbs, XpertHR’s global head of product content strategy, says, “A flexible benefits scheme gives employees choice over the make-up of their benefits package, letting them select the benefits most suited to their lifestyle and of most value to them. It can therefore act as a valuable aid to attraction and retention.

“However, in order for a flexible benefits programme to be a success, it has to be well communicated. The workforce need to understand what is on offer to them and how to go about selecting the benefits of interest to them. Organisations need to bear in mind that employees can be resistant to change, and change to the way their benefits are delivered is no exception. Our guide includes practical guidance for employers considering introducing flexible benefits this year on communicating the scheme and maintaining interest in it after the initial launch.”

The guide covers the common drivers for employers introducing a flexible benefits plan and designing the scheme, including how much flexibility and which benefits the organisation wants to offer, the timing of benefit elections and how each benefit will be priced.

The guide also covers important practical considerations for employers. These include seeking HMRC approval for the scheme, the need for the benefits to be accessible for producing P11D information, how starters and leavers will be managed in relation to the scheme, and management of benefits for employees on maternity leave.

Jo Stubbs adds, “Once they’ve got business approval, organisations should typically plan for their flexible benefits scheme to take around six to 12 months to implement. This includes time for design and planning, negotiating with benefit suppliers and choosing the right software to support the administration of the scheme.”

XpertHR offers the following guidance:

  • Establish whether there is a business case for setting up a flexible benefits scheme.
  • Consider the costs involved, and employees’ expectations.
  • Consider which benefits will be included in the scheme.
  • Decide which benefits will be core and which flexible, and the level of flexibility that the scheme will allow.
  • Decide how the benefits will be funded and what each benefit is worth.
  • Put together a project team to manage implementation of the scheme.
  • Communicate the details of the new scheme to employees and update any associated employee handbooks and benefits guidance.
  • Ensure that employees remain engaged in the scheme, and regularly review the benefits options.

To read the ‘How to Introduce and Manage Flexible Benefits Guide’ click here.

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