With benefits, the clue is in the word and, what’s more, the advantage of having benefits should be mutual. Benefits should be something considered of value to both the employee and the employer.
Too often, they are seen as ‘normal market practice’ at a certain grade and taken for granted. Or, worse, they are listed in alphabetical order on websites, with the unfortunate outcome that death benefits feature well before share schemes.
So what can organisations do to bring home the benefit of benefits? First, everyone has to be clear about their purpose. And second, it helps to have a story to bring them to life.
Last year, we reorganised our benefits under the banner of ‘wellbeing’.
This is a word that is gaining popularity, but what do we mean by it? Wellbeing covers: physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, financial wellbeing, a good working environment, learning and development, and work-life balance.
If we get the right balance of the above, we have a better sense of personal wellbeing. And, if we feel better about ourselves, we are better able to perform well and are more engaged.
So it makes sense to organise benefits in a way to support this, for mutual benefit. At Legal and General, our benefits are arranged not in alphabetical order, but in three key areas.
My Health includes all the support benefits for helping staff stay healthy, get back to work as quickly as possible or assist in the event of long-term illness. It includes health fact sheets, lifestyle assessments, occupational health, sick pay, private medical insurance and group income protection.
My Life includes our flexible-working policies, holidays, childcare vouchers, bikes-for-work scheme, payroll-giving scheme, and learning and development.
My Money includes short-term savings via discounts on everyday purchases at supermarkets, other retailers or on our own products, as well as medium-term savings via share schemes and longer term through the pension.
We also try to help with peace of mind in the event of the worst-case scenario, by offering will-writing services, life assurance and dependants’ pension. But these ‘death benefits’ are now in context and not fourth on the alphabetical list.
Embracing all of the above is the employee assistance programme (EAP), which offers advice and help at all stages of an employee’s life.
With benefits organised in this way, we can bring them to life with stories. We recently focused on housing, highlighting how to make everyday savings through retail discounts; the facts about saving via share schemes, perhaps to help with a deposit; the products we offer regarding home insurance; and the help the EAP provides when buying or moving house.
In this way, benefits come to life and show their purpose. They have a joined-up story. Employers want engaged employees performing to their best. Employees want to perceive value in what they are offered.
Hopefully, this way, benefits will benefit everyone.
Rosemary Lemon is group head of reward, pensions and benefits at Legal and General