By Ian Luck, Employee Benefits Partner at Smith & Williamson

The case for flexible benefits

To paraphrase the great C.J., the famous TV boss who some may still remember, “entrepreneurs didn’t get where they are today without being flexible.” Having the ability to adjust product, service or delivery to meet the needs of clients and make the most of opportunities is what makes them inherently successful. It follows that this flexibility is required across the business, including pay and benefits packages for employees.

Why, then, do some businesses still insist on putting together a benefits package as a reward or recruitment tool that is fixed and meets the needs of only a few, if anyone at all? If the recession has seen businesses of all sizes decide that more flexibility about the costs and effectiveness of benefits is appropriate then this must also be true for entrepreneurial, growing businesses. In the annual Employee Benefits magazine survey of flexible benefits arrangements, over a third of all respondents said that their flexible benefits plan reinforced the corporate culture and business objectives within the firm. The question for today is, does yours?

Incentivisation with cost control

A suitable flexible benefits package will incentivise employees to engage with the organisation’s brand and values, resulting in more productive and loyal staff who are better advocates for the business and what it stands for. The Macleod Review for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills stated that greater staff engagement has a positive impact on competitiveness and performance, irrespective of the state of the wider economy.

Cost control is important to all businesses, but particularly the relatively young ones, so it is encouraging to hear that 55% of those companies responding to Employee Benefits magazine said that their plan had been effective in reducing or containing the cost of reward.

Some of the benefits

While childcare vouchers, dental and other insurances and the ability to buy and sell annual holiday remain the most common benefits offered through a flex plan, it is interesting to note that some 48 different benefits were outlined in the survey. These ranged from bicycle loans and gym membership to wine club membership and discounted bus travel schemes. A particularly exciting and growing benefit is the use of concierge services. These were previously the preserve of exclusive card membership schemes but this benefit can now be made available to all staff, helping them to manage all their needs, from shopping and insurance to arranging a child's birthday party or finding an emergency nanny.

To conclude, a well designed flex plan will enable staff to build benefits packages that are meaningful to them, resulting in a more motivated and loyal team to help your business succeed.

Smith & Williamson’s Employee Benefits team will design a flexible benefits package to suit your business. To find out more, call Ian Luck on 020 7131 4212 or email ian.luck@smith.williamson.co.uk.

By necessity this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Article correct at time of writing.

Smith & Williamson Employee Benefit Consultants
A division of Smith & Williamson Financial Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.