“As well as helping employers to be compliant with employment legislation, employee benefits can help employers to attract, recruit and retain the best employees; a point highlighted by HR departments and employment specialists for years and now supported by research completed by YouGov in August 2007. YouGov found that only 50% of British employees rated themselves as ‘Total Happys’ (happy with both their job and their employer) whilst 25% fell in the bottom ‘Misery Guts’ category (being neither happy with their job nor their employer). But more significantly, the research shows the important role that benefits play in making employees more satisfied with their work. Total Happys tend to get an average of 4.3 employee benefits, well above the overall average of for British employees of just 3.6 benefits, whilst Misery Guts received an average of just 2.8 benefits. So finding the right employment package can help to change employees from Miserys to Happys.

Being a Total Happy isn’t just about smiling either, Total Happys are more likely to stay with their employer with 90% saying they would want to be with their employer in a year’s time, and that positive feeling also has a positive effect on productivity. So finding the right benefit package can help to increase happiness, increase staff retention and increase productivity, but just launching any old benefits won’t necessarily make any differences employees need to understand the benefits on offer and engage with those benefits.

Employers and employees also need to fully understand the financial value of the benefits employees receive, and research by Employee Benefits magazine completed in 2009 showed the importance of explaining benefits to all members of staff.

Key findings in Employee Benefits Magazine Research 2009

In response to the recession, 43% plan to motivate employees to maintain morale and 33% intend to review benefits providers in order to get a cheaper or better deal

Increasing employee engagement (by 62%) and communication to increase staff perception of benefits (by 54%), are respondents’ top two priorities in the next 12 months

“The recession has enhanced the need for employers to prove the worth of their reward strategy”

The top 3 priorities of employees for 2010 are to increase employee engagement in employee benefits, increase staff perception of the value of their employee benefits and to increase staff appreciation of the value of their employee benefits

The most popular method of communicating benefits is at induction meetings for new joiners, which is offered by 78% of employers, while leaflets, brochures or booklets are the most common way of communicating pension schemes (76%).

Whilst this may seem the most natural time for employees to take up new benefits recent research by the DWP found that although employees tended to recall receiving information about their company pension scheme, many skim read this material and some simply filed it away to review later. Many employees found it difficult to make informed judgements about the pension scheme and had no particular reason for not joining the scheme whilst others cited feeling too young or too old, and others had concerns about affordability or the lack of flexibility.

What this research does demonstrate is the need for individual and personalised information and advice on the benefits available – not only when employees join but also at key intervals during an employees employment with the company.

Our employee benefit advice service

As well as helping employees to understand the value of the employee benefits being offered by you, our service also helps them to understand their wider financial plans and shows them how their employee benefits can form the cornerstone of their future financial well being. We provide every employee with plain English guides covering the basic facts of the benefits available and follow this up with one to one reviews with all employees who wish to have further information either by telephone, e-mail or where practical face to face.

During our initial meeting we’ll do our best to really get to know each employee personally and explore areas such as attitude to risk, financial and life goals and affordability (both now and in the future). We will also make sure they understand exactly what benefits they have available, how these benefits work and how they can increase the effective remuneration they gain from their employment with you.

This initial review costs just £150 per employee and can be provided as a further tax free employee benefit to all employees.

Employees are under no obligation to proceed with any of the recommendations we make however if they do proceed with our advice and we receive income from any commissions or fees received then we will offset the amount we receive from the £150 initial fee.

We follow up this initial meeting with our written recommendations and where employees wish to proceed with our advice, where they have any further queries or where they want more information, we become the focal point of their questions saving employers and HR time in dealing with complex technical queries and time consuming administration queries.

And our advice process doesn’t stop there.

Throughout the year we will be available to answer any queries your employees have in relation to the employee benefit package available to them or any other aspect of financial planning and we contact each employee who has taken up our advice every year offering them the opportunity to discuss with us any changes that may have happened and review their existing investments, pension and employee benefits. For those employees who don’t take up our advice we will again offer them access to our initial review service every year and of course we’ll be on hand to advise all new joiners on the employee benefit package available to them.

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