EXCLUSIVE: L’Oreal is to launch total reward statements as part of the rollout of its new flexible benefits scheme.
The statements, which will go live via the cosmetics and beauty organisation’s new online flexible benefits portal in March, will summarise the benefits that employees have chosen through the flex scheme, as well as give a summary of what L’Oreal provides to staff.
The flexible benefits scheme opened for enrolment in November and December 2013, and the employees’ benefits choices took effect from January 2014.
Ben Marks, HR, compensation and benefits director at L’Oreal UK and Ireland, said: “It’s been part of an 18-month reward strategy. Part of it is around making sure we are very closely aligned to the market, but I suppose it was triggered by the auto-enrolment necessity.
“Rather than just looking at that on its own, we wanted to see how we could offer a reward programme that included everything.”
Auto-enrolment triggered benefits review
L’Oreal postponed its auto-enrolment staging date from August to November 2013. While auto-enrolment triggered a wider benefits review, it was not specifically tied to the launch of the flexible benefits scheme.
There were two drivers, said Marks. “One was feedback from our annual employee engagement survey and the second was the requirement to do auto-enrolment.
“Rather than tell employees they had to go into a pension, we thought about the other benefits that they might wish to have, particularly around savings.”
This led to the introduction of a corporate individual savings account (Isa) in flex so that employees had an alternative savings vehicle available.
The introduction of new benefits
L’Oreal also introduced a home computer scheme, health screening, travel insurance, holiday buy and sell of up to five days a year, and the option to increase the level of life insurance, as well as the ability to add life insurance cover for a spouse or partner.
The flex scheme also includes benefits that were previously offered to staff, such as a private medical insurance scheme, a bikes-for-work scheme and a payroll-giving scheme.
“It enabled us to offer choice, value and flexibility, to communicate very effectively on everything, and it also gives us efficiencies internally,” said Marks.
“We didn’t really spend a lot of money, although we did spend money and effort setting up the technology, but it is really taking advantage of our buying power and the tax efficiencies that the government allows.”
The online portal is provided by Vebnet. Xerox, the parent company of Buck Consultants, acted as consultants.
Communicating to employees
Communications with employees began by gauging opinion about which benefits employees wanted to receive. Marks added: “We did an electronic survey and we also had an interactive wall within our canteen areas at our sites, where we asked employees to write their preferences and what they would value.”
When the enrolment window opened, L’Oreal also communicated the scheme using brochures and seminars, both onsite and via Webex, to show how the technology worked and to answer questions about the new benefits.
The organisation also held a benefits fair at one of its monthly Bar 255 events, which is usually hosted by a brand or division to tie in with the launch of a new product.
“The HR team launched flexible benefits at the October bar,” said Marks. “We showcased all the benefits that would be on offer. It was perfect timing because the event already had the captured market.”
Extension of the flexible benefits scheme
The flexible benefits scheme has been rolled out to all office-based staff, totalling around 1,300 of L’Oreal’s 3,700 employees in the UK and Ireland. It plans to look at extending the scheme to staff who are based in stores.
“The initial response has been positive,” said Marks. “We’ve had approximately half of that population actively making an active choice, which exceeded our expectations for the first year.
“It will be annual. We will take a view of the popularity of certain benefits and take advantage of anything else that comes on the market.”