Controlling benefits costs is a key challenge for the Ten (Transforming Education in Norfolk) Group, a federation of educational institutions in Norfolk, employing 1,400 permanent members of staff and a further 400 casual staff. Hilary Bright, director of HR services at the Ten Group, says: “We wanted to offer a range of benefits that would help to improve staff morale and attract prospective employees but, being a public sector organisation, we didn’t have a huge budget to spend.”
To keep costs low and ensure its spend is relatively stable, the group offers staff benefits such as membership of a discount scheme, various salary sacrifice schemes such as bikes for work, a range of on-site health checks and flu vaccinations and a health cash plan provided by Simplyhealth. “The cost of these doesn’t increase significantly every year, with some the same year after year,” says Bright.
This mix of benefits also creates value for the Ten Group, which helps to offset the cost. For example, the variety of health benefits included in the health cash plan has helped the group to address issues with sickness absence, says Bright. “Before, employees would be off for six weeks waiting to see a specialist or for a physiotherapy session,” she explains. “Now they can be seen quickly. This helped us achieve a 16% reduction in absence in the first year and one of our academies has even seen its absence fall from 14% at its highest to just 1% at its lowest.”
Benefits statements are also used to help to maximise the value of the benefits available.