Clare Bettelley: Employers must be realistic about flex needs

By their very nature, the sky is the limit for employers running flexible benefits schemes.

Organisations can, for example, offer their workforce as many benefits as they like, from the basics, including a pension scheme, holiday, life insurance, childcare vouchers, bikes-for-work schemes and dental and travel insurance, as well as new-style benefits, such as mobile phones and iPads.

Multiple enrolment windows are also a consideration, to help keep flex schemes fresh as well as boost employee engagement and, therefore, benefits take-up.

But employers need to be realistic about the challenges involved in running a heavily-laden flex scheme with multiple windows.

Firstly, as tempting as it is to introduce every shining new benefit that comes onto the market, there is a danger that employees could be overwhelmed by a huge choice of perks and, consequently, become discouraged from taking all, or indeed any, of them up because of the time it takes to educate themselves about how each works and the terms and conditions involved.

Secondly, employers need to consider that their existing flex provider may not be able to offer all the benefits they would like to present to their workforce, which could mean they have to work with more than one provider, potentially stretching their HR and reward resources further.


And that is without considering plan communication. A successful flex scheme is underpinned by a rolling communications strategy that informs employees about the benefits on offer in their organisation, explains how each works, and reminds them when the plan’s enrolment window is open during the year.

The creation and implementation of such a strategy is no mean feat, particularly for HR and reward teams with limited resources, and especially for teams with global workforces to consider. As this supplement explains, a communications campaign can often take as long to create as the flex plan itself.

The flex market is constantly evolving to offer employers greater opportunities to broaden their benefits offering, but just because they can, that does not mean they should.

As always, employers need to design and refresh their flex plans in line with their organisation’s business strategy and, in the event that a benefit does not meet their needs, they should not be afraid to discontinue it, assuming that they do not have a contractual obligation to continue providing it.

Clare Bettelley
Associate editor
Employee Benefits


Read the full Flexible Benefits supplement.