Over the past 10 years, the flex landscape has undergone a number of changes. Perhaps the biggest of these is in the definition of flex, which has been loosened to include schemes that are structured around tax-efficient perks staff can take up via salary sacrifice.
The government’s introduction of tax efficiencies around certain perks, such as childcare vouchers, pension contributions and bicycle loans, has also influenced the types of benefit employers offer within flex. These are now all popular options.
The barriers to introducing flex no longer appear to be as high as they once seemed, even just five years ago. Back in 2004, 80% of employers that did not offer flex felt the complexity of administration was an issue. This figure has now fallen to 53%, which may, in part, be due to developments in technology.
But when it comes to employers’ perceptions of the main advantages of running a flexible benefits scheme, little has changed over time. Just as in 1998, many employers still value flex for its ability to recognise the diverse needs and values of a workforce, and to boost staff appreciation of their benefits.
With issues such as corporate social responsibility and preparing for the 2012 pension reforms now rising up employers’ agendas, it will be interesting to see what the next 10 years hold.
Debbie Lovewell, Deputy Editor