ING Direct launched a flexible benefits scheme on 1 January this year, with the aim of running it on a cost-neutral basis after start-up costs. Human resources director, Jennie Monon, explains: “We wanted to increase choice without increasing cost.” The company’s flexible benefits pot was created by enabling staff to trade down existing benefits, such as 1% of the 5% pension contribution, some holiday, private medical insurance and a portion of income protection cover, in order to fund other options. Employees could also trade a portion of their salary.
ING also offers tax-efficient benefits. “We offered childcare vouchers. They’re a real no-brainer, because employees can save tax and national insurance. We also offered bikes, and 12 people of the total 600 took them up,” explains Monon.
Some of these savings helped cover the administrative costs of the scheme, but Monon explains that the real savings came out of negotiating better deals on benefits. “We took the opportunity to rebroker our benefits and get better deals with suppliers. That alone covers the running costs. We expect it to improve retention. We don’t have a retention issue, but it should improve still further, because employees will find it hard to get anything as suited to their needs in another call centre environment.”