The right combination of employee benefits can help to recruit and retain staff, proactively manage the costs of running a scheme and help reduce absence rates. It can also position a company as a caring employer with a strong emphasis on employee wellbeing and make the workplace a more desirable, enjoyable environment to be in.
by Dave Marcus, Key Client Manager at Best Doctors UK
While some staff benefits are more tangible, such as a gym or restaurant, others are less so. For example, an employee assistance programme (EAP) can help staff with financial, legal and health concerns and can be accessed via the phone or even through face-to-face counselling. An EAP is a fantastic benefit but if staff don’t know that it exists or how to access it out of working hours, how can it reach its full potential? It is often these less obvious benefits that actually provide the most value to both the employer and employee. The key is communication.
When a well-thought out HR strategy, coupled with company investment, perhaps broker support and involvement, and the time and energy involved in implementation, fails to deliver all of its goals, it often does so not because the benefits are wrong or the providers are the wrong partners. It falls down through lack of communication. After all the endeavours put in by the various parties involved in the process, all of the costs and all of the energy, making staff aware of their benefits is the last crucial stage, and the one which often needs more support. This is because, to most employees, benefits are something that arrives in an A4 envelope, often quickly scanned on a busy working day and consigned to a drawer, hopefully never to be needed. This is the reason that staff benefits need to be communicated: people need to know how their employers are there to help them.
Having spent all the time, money and energy putting benefits into place, employers need to maximise their value, potential and the overall peace of mind they offer. The communication of benefits is increasingly important as employers begin to realise that staff do not always understand the value of their benefits packages, both in financial terms but also in terms of the value to themselves and their families. Specifically, staff need to know:
- What specific benefits they have
- How each benefit works
- How and when each benefit can be accessed
- Why each benefit might be important
How can employers do this? Both engaging with the providers of each benefit and running their own internal activities, companies can successfully and meaningfully communicate benefits. Such activities include:
- Inviting benefits providers to give on-site presentations and information sessions
- Creating visual and strategically placed materials such as posters and flyers
- Using company intranet and internal newsletters to feature individual benefits
- Investing in marketing to create testimonials and real-life examples of individuals who have used specific benefits
The real key to this message, and one which can be applied to any staff benefits in any company, is that staff are able to access and use a benefit that ultimately supports them when they need help because they are aware that this benefit exists. Those companies that get real value from their benefits offering do one thing universally well: they communicate to their employees. In doing so they help achieve their goals and what is more, they help recruit and retain staff, contribute to both employer and employee financial and physical fitness and provide their staff with the very real benefit of peace of mind.
This post has been adapted from “A Picture of health”, previously published in Pay and Benefits Magazine. http://www.payandbenefitsmagazine.co.uk.
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