Charting the evolution of employee benefits with The HR World

The HR World webinar

“By taking a look back over the last ten years and charting progress, we can understand a little bit about the pressures, the trends, and the influences that are brought to bear on employee benefits.”


Engage recently participated in a webinar hosted by The HR World which explored the evolution of employee benefits over the last decade. The expert panel comprised of our Founding Director, Nick Hale, Kate Palmer (HD Advice and Consultancy Director Peninsula UK), and Alison Richardson (Director of HR Operations Yodel). The event was hosted by Head of Content at The HR World, Simon Kent.

The illuminating discussion covered the following issues:

  • The evolution of employee benefits
  • The impact of a positive workplace environment
  • The importance of communication
  • The growing role of technology

Read on for a summary or watch the whole thing at The HR World.

Need help creating the ideal employee benefits scheme for your business and staff? Get FREE one-to-one advice from our award-winning team of brokers at [email protected] or call us on 01273 974419.


The evolution of employee benefits

Employee benefits have changed radically over the last decade. From a top-down discussion, it’s now very much bottom up as employees have gained more of a voice.

Mental and financial wellbeing has joined physical health as a top priority for businesses and their employees. A holistic approach is very much in fashion.

Nick Hale:

  • “Businesses really viewed employee benefits simply as a cost, a business expense, sometimes a low-level HR initiative, rather than a meaningful part of their overall business strategy. The attitude of benefits was around frills, bells, and whistles – very much a secondary consideration.”
  • “All the focus was on physical wellbeing and insurance mechanisms. Things like Health Insurance, Group Life, for example. More preventative measures simply weren’t part of the conversation.”
  • “Whereas what used to be offered was exclusive and pretty vanilla, things are now improving significantly. Today, businesses are now trying to align their benefits more with their own internal values.”
  • “Employers are looking at the objectives of their business and trying to offer something which is more inclusive and far-reaching.”
  • “Employees are much more empowered to now ask what’s in it for them, viewing their relationship with their employer really as a partnership.”

Kate Palmer:

  • “The interview process, the recruitment process, is very much the employer being interviewed as well as the employee.”
  • “You’re very much selling your business in the face of the talent shortage.”


The impact of a positive work environment

As remote work is clearly here to stay, our panellists discussed how important it is to create a positive “family-like” workspace and dynamic – almost as important as offering the right employee benefits. But how do you create that feeling within a work environment?

Kate Palmer:

  • “At the core is a really good, strong leader. We’ve worked a lot with our clients over the past two years, in particular, around emotional connection and emotional resilience and understanding of your people. I think that’s an area a lot of businesses need to focus on.”
  • “It’s brilliant having all the products and certainly peripherals, but emotional connection, understanding someone’s mental health position, supporting with that, caring – these are what’s important.”

Alison Richardson:

  • “As you walk around and you talk to people within the network, I think much more than in past years, people talk about things like bereavements, loneliness, menopause, fertility issues, those sort of things.”
  • “Within that family environment, they do pull together, they support each other.”


Communication really matters

Many businesses will spend weeks, if not months, designing their employee benefits scheme, but forget a crucial step – successfully communicating it to staff. Technology can play an important role in this:

Alison Richardson:

  • “We rely on multiple streams, so it would be things like your internet and SharePoint and push messages, through to apps where people access pay slips or connected screens on the wall as you walk in to one of our service centres across the country.”

Tech is useful, but over-obsessing on providing the latest tech isn’t always recommended:

Nick Hale:

  • “There are lots of options based on what your budget is and there’s no one-size-fits-all. I don’t think anybody should feel under duress as an employer to be out there spending tens of thousands of pounds on really expensive snazzy benefits tech.”
  • “The point is to try and get the comms out there in whatever way you can, by whatever means you can. And there’s various options available depending on where you are in your business.”


The significant role of technology

The use of technology allows for greater choice, flexibility, agility, and immediacy in selecting workplace perks while improving access to services like telemedicine, virtual GPs, and private medical insurance. However, keeping up with technology can end up feeling like an endless loop for businesses as the next new thing is always just around the corner:

Kate Palmer:

  • “I was thinking how historically we have the TV channels. We were told what to watch, when to watch it, and that it’s going to be good. This is your Saturday night! Now we’ve got Netflix, choice, immediacy, a toolbox or a sweet shop to choose from. We’re greedy, we want it quick, we want it now. We want to be able to be empowered to choose what we want.”
  • “A platform where it’s a bit of a sweet shop and you can have flexible benefits which change, being quick and fresh. That’s certainly what I see people wanting now as opposed to being told what they’re going to like and what’s going to keep them in a job.”

But tech moves fast and brings its own challenges:

Nick Hale:

  • “There’s so much that it brings in, but you are chasing it all the time. The moment you’ve spent 18 months, which is sometimes the case, putting in a really top-level employee benefits platform, which is all singing, all dancing, can deliver total reward statements, can link in with your group life provider, your PMI and everything else that’s rolled out. It’s out of date, and you’ve got to start again!”


How will you evolve your benefits?

There was clear agreement from across the panel that choice in what you’re offering staff is incredibly important – and technology is key in being able to deliver that. However, it’s easy to get lost in trying to provide absolutely everything, for everybody. As an employee benefits consultancy we’ve helped disentangle overly complex benefit schemes,which have provided more difficulty than it has rewards.

So, how do you provide choice while keeping things simple and delivering a strong ROI? This is where an expert team of consultants like Engage Health Group can help.

Our award-winning team will review your employee benefits scheme and ensure it’s delivering optimal benefit for employee and business. And our services come at no extra cost to your business.

Contact us at [email protected] or call +44 (0)1273 974419 for FREE no-obligation advice and support.

Picture of Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor started at Engage in 2021, and is now a Digital Content Writer after studying BA English Literature at University of Sussex for the last 3 years.

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