Hymans Robertson has linked its group personal pension with a workplace Isa to stimulate staff interest in saving.
Because employee benefits are at the heart of its business, Hymans Robertson recognises the importance of giving its staff access to workplace savings schemes that will engage them and suit different lifestyle needs.
The pensions and benefits consultancy invites all employees to join a group personal pension (GPP) plan and a workplace individual savings account (Isa). The two plans are operated separately, but Hymans Robertson has linked them together to create flexibility between the two and offer some innovative features that encourage saving.
Under the GPP, which was introduced in 2011, the organisation will contribute £1.50 for every £1 the employee contributes, which rises to an employer contribution of £2 after five years’ service.
HR manager Steve Moore says the scheme offers a number of bespoke investment options. “For example, we have an option for income drawdown or annuities. At the time we did that, it was quite a new approach.”
The Isa, which has been in place for a year, boasts a feature that is a little more innovative. Deductions are taken straight from payroll, so staff do not have to make contributions after they have been paid.
Staff have two options around contributions. They can either set up a monthly payment from their net salary, or have a time-limited option of paying their employee pension contribution, which would have gone into the GPP, into the Isa. This is referred to as the GPP/Isa split.
Moore says the company understands that staff may have immediate priorities for saving. “What we’re trying to do is recognise that not everyone wants to pay into a pension, so we’ve injected some short- and medium-term flexibility for someone who might, for example, need to have a little extra cash for a house deposit,” he says. “As long as the employee puts their portion into the Isa, the firm will continue to make its contributions for the employee into the GPP.”
Every employee that has been in the pension scheme for at least two years has the option of making these payments into the Isa for a year, says Moore. “We try to encourage the idea of workplace savings rather than just thinking about pensions. We want to inject the mentality of saving and provide as much flexibility and interplay between those vehicles as possible.”
Also, Hymans Robertson allows staff to take a pensions contribution ‘holiday’. This works on the same lines as the GPP/Isa split: as long as an employee has been in the scheme for two years, they can elect to come out of the pension for one year only, and the organisation will give the employer’s proportion of the pension contribution to them as cash for that period.
“We didn’t want to totally discourage people from saving into a pension because that is a very important mechanism,” says Moore. “But it’s just short-term flexibility that we want to give in a way that works for staff.”
The GPP is a qualifying pension scheme under auto-enrolment employer duties, so employees are able to elect out of the scheme and rejoin after one year.
The GPP’s take-up is currently 80%, while the Isa has a 4% take-up. The proportion of participating staff that have taken a pensions contribution holiday is 6%, and 1% have chosen the GPP/Isa split. Moore is confident that interest in the Isa will increase going into its second year.
Hymans Robertson mainly uses its flexible benefits roadshows to communicate details of all benefits to staff, including workplace savings schemes. Its flex renewal window is 1 June, and it is staging roadshows in its offices in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh to communicate benefits information to its 585 employees.
“We also have total reward statements, newsletters throughout the year, and articles on our intranet to try to keep the visibility of our pension and benefits as high as possible,” says Moore.
Hymans Robertson is also aligning its pensions auto-enrolment staging date with its flex renewal window, aiming to maximise take-up of the pension scheme.
Employees have responded well to the workplace savings schemes. The organisation runs employee focus groups, which found that employees like the range of fund options in the pension scheme, and the online systems’ ease of use.
“From an Isa perspective, the main feedback we get is around the ease of use, and the fact that contributions come directly from payroll,” says Moore. “For the pension and the Isa, it’s the user-friendliness of our online interface.”
Innovation and flexibility for staff are key focus points for Hymans Robertson. It is these workplace savings vehicles that have seen the company shortlisted for this year’s Employee Benefits Awards in the ‘Best workplace savings benefits’ category.
“From a reward perspective, we look to do two things with our reward and benefits package here, which is to be as flexible as we can, but also to be as leading-edge as we possibly can,” says Moore.
“With the GPP/Isa split, at the time we put that in, this time last year we weren’t aware of anyone else in the UK that was doing that.”
- Hymans Robertson was established in 1921 and provides pension and benefits consulting services.
- It operates in four offices: London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
- It has 585 employees.
Career history: Steve Moore
HR manager Steve Moore has been with Hymans Robertson for six years. As an HR generalist, his role covers all elements of human resources. Moore has been an HR generalist for 14 years, having moved into HR from management consultancy.
He undertook a reward secondment while at Global Home Loans (now Barclays), which sharpened his interest in reward and recognition.
Moore says taking up his first HR position was one of the highlights of his career. “That was a great feeling of achievement and attainment,” he says.
“In terms of what I’ve enjoyed the most, the breadth of experience that I have in my current role, particularly being lucky enough to work on leading-edge projects such as the GPP and the Isa, for me, just doing that work is what is really important and gives me [a] sense of achievement.”