Financial Planning

Getting the benefits package right

By: Christine Masinga, Managing Executive of Human Resources at MMI Corporate and Public Sector 

Employee Benefits packages is not just about retiring well for the average employee. The following article by Christine Masinga – the Managing Executive of Human Resources at MMI Corporate and Public Sector – provides a great conversation-starter financial planners can have with clients about the right benefits package for them. But the “right benefits package” no longer entails what it used to.

Until recently, employee benefits were generally viewed as a kind of generic tablestake used to attract high quality candidates through the lure of a tax efficient package. But this is no longer the case.

To seal the deal with the right people and to gain a degree of lock-in, a personalised, value-adding benefits package is probably the best weapon.

This demands that you have a benefits provider with the complete modern toolkit of deep insights, targeted benefits, engagement and rewards.

It also demands a people-centric employee value proposition which starts with the job interview. Just as companies expect candidates to come to an interview properly prepared, so does the reverse apply. Interviewers should have a good sense in advance of what matters to a desirable applicant and what sort of benefits will appeal to them.

In simple terms: medical benefits, flexitime and leave might matter more to someone with children; retirement provisions are of greater concern to an older person; a young single person will be keener on training, travel and development opportunities. And exploring why someone left a previous job will give an insight into what will motivate them to stay with you.

The basics of retirement and medical provisions can be viewed by employees as simply part of their own spend rather than anything special the company is doing for them but you can differentiate yourself through the clarity of the explanation, only spending time on relevant benefits and providing a strong rewards programme which incentivises healthy behaviour like Multiply. A good and efficient service channel for accessing these benefits is also a selling point.

Risk benefits – death, disability, critical illness, dread disease – are all too often overlooked or taken for granted. These can have a huge impact on the productivity of a business. When they are considered, the focus tends to be a short-sighted one that looks at immediate costs rather than improving the longer term claims experience of employees. Providers should work with employers to implement proactive risk management programmes that decrease deaths and disabilities and in turn drive down costs over the long term. Once again, clarity of explanation and the relevance of the offerings will help your cause.

All of these traditional layers of benefit need to be integrated with a sympathetic leave and ‘day off’ construct, a specific working hours arrangement, and commitments to training and travel opportunities which should be aligned to a clear promotional path.

The advantages of this kind of employee value proposition – where what the individual needs to perform optimally is balanced with what the company needs from them and this becomes the implicit holistic contract – lies not only in attracting and retaining top talent but also in their productivity.

All the specific MMI research we have done in this area shows that staff who are concerned about their financial wellness will be prone to abstenteeism or presenteeism (being at work but markedly underperforming). But the opposite equally applies.

Those who fully understand their financial plan and feel their short, medium and long term needs are covered are far more likely to deliver exceptional output.

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