I’m sure we all remember the quiz where that legendary question would pop up. The teenage contestants able to choose a letter to help them track across a board. It always seemed that whenever P appeared on the board the contestants would vie to be able to ask for it, and therefore enjoy the moment of being the one daring to be so bold to ask ‘that’ question, yet act so nonchalant. It tickled the teenage psyche for sure.
The important thing here though was having the choice. Most of us like to have options and get greater pleasure and satisfaction from being able to choose rather than being told what we must have or do.
When we look around at our colleagues at work do we see everyone the same with similar needs and wants? Some are young, others older; some have families others not; people with different lives, beliefs and priorities. I wonder, then, why it is that we typically shape employee benefit packages to reward people as though all are the same?
Yet by considering a more flexible benefits offering we immediately open up the choices for people so that they can choose what they’ll value most; what suits their preferences or even their needs. Whether this is gym membership for the health conscious, or a necessary few extra days holiday for those juggling childcare.
Yet I hear you shouting…but the cost!! Yes, we shouldn’t forget how much it costs to put together a benefits package, flexible or otherwise. And yes by putting in an element of selection, insured benefits can be more expensive due to the perhaps unsurprising phenomena of people choosing what matters to them. So for instance someone not too healthy is more likely to choose health insurance, whilst the fighting fit might prefer some extra holiday to allow them to go rock climbing in Peru.
So, it might be financially cheaper to keep to the one size fits all approach, but if we invest in offering a set range of benefits which few people appreciate or perhaps even understand, it’s a wasted investment. Far better to invest in those benefits that people appreciate, value and ultimately choose to have. With an informed approach to the benefit design, costs can be managed and we can look to get maximum return on investment measured in goodwill as well as £’s per unit. Flexible benefits can set us apart from our competitors by enabling us to stand out when recruiting; and increasingly with generational norms meaning employees are far more transient than ever before, it can be a key factor for helping to retain staff who might otherwise be tempted elsewhere.
The Survey Initiative team are experts in the field of employee research and engagement. If you would like to know more about how we can help your organisation, then call us on +44 (0)1255 850051 or visit our website.