Despite all the attention and discussion that flexible benefits schemes have generated over the years, they have never really taken off in the same way as other mechanisms for offering benefits. Although the number of employers offering flex to at least some of their workforce has grown over the years, this has happened at a much slower rate than for voluntary and salary sacrifice schemes. In 2007, for example, 19% of respondents offered flex to all staff, while 8% provided a scheme for some employees. This year, 27% and 8%, respectively, do so.
The slow growth of flex may be due to some of the common myths surrounding it, such as the cost of implementation and administration. But the evolution of technology and provider offerings in recent years means it is now cheaper to put flex into an organisation.
Developments in the market mean flex is now often offered as part of a total reward strategy, which, in some cases, has resulted in a blurring of the boundaries between flex and voluntary benefits schemes. This is increasingly the case where employers operate a scheme with more than one enrolment window a year, to give staff more opportunity to take up certain perks. It will be interesting to see how corporate wrap platforms affect flex as they come to the market, although, overall, these have taken longer to launch to market than was initially expected.
The benefits most commonly offered through flex have changed little over the years, with the buying and selling of holiday, dental insurance, health cash plans and critical illness insurance remaining popular.
Read more Benefits research 2012