Selecting your reward and benefits provider
What is a benefits provider?
First things first: a benefits provider gathers together a range of employee benefits (often provided externally) and services, and hosts them in a single offering or suite, usually accessible via mobile workplace technology. Employers can then choose which of these benefits they'd like to offer their employees, utilising the buying power of the benefits provider, without having to contact different external suppliers individually.
Entering into a new partnership with a provider can be daunting at any time. But it’s really a huge opportunity to find the platform which gives your employees an exceptional experience, every day.
To attract the best talent, you need to offer an appealing reward and benefits package. But who can provide this for you? What else do they offer? Are their services good too? Is their technology innovative and forward-thinking? There are so many considerations outside of the benefits themselves, so it’s understandable that the decision can seem overwhelming. Let’s break it down into manageable chunks.
First things first…
What do your employees want?
The most important thing you need to consider is what your employees actually want from their scheme, and therefore, your provider. A lot of employers make the mistake of looking over the fence and seeing that “so-and-so is offering this and that” to their employees. However, reward and benefits schemes don’t necessarily translate perfectly between organisations. Employee demographics, working patterns, the nature of the job itself, the company culture; these things can influence what your employees want from you.
As Jacob Morgan puts it:
Organisations are always so quick to want to be like Google or Netflix. They copy the same talent practices, introduce the same perks, etc. The recent news about Google's diversity issue is a great example for why companies need to spend more time doing things that their employees care about as opposed to trying to emulate what others are doing. Google isn't perfect…
How do you find out what they want?
You listen. Keep your ear to the ground. Have a culture champion in each team to talk to their peers and get real time feedback. Survey employees to find out what they’d like from you. Crowd source on social media to get some ideas. There are so many different ways to listen to people; use them all, make a list, and see which providers can tick your employees’ boxes.
The team at Benefex have years of experience behind them, and are always ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing up-and-coming trends. Our extensive research means that we can accurately predict what the most sought-after benefits would be in any workforce, but our workshops and individual research into our clients’ employees help us to make sure each scheme is relevant to its workforce.
What do your employees need?
Now you know what your employees want; what do they need? In order to facilitate exceptional employee experiences, a provider needs to offer a lot more than just reward and benefits packages:
Can a provider’s software system work for your employees, and not the other way around? We know that we’re more inclined engage with technology if it’s easy (take Amazon’s 1-click for example), so the technology you offer your people needs to be effortless, intuitive, progressive, and mobile-first. Employees expect this level of tech from their employer, and to go without carries a risk of becoming disengaged.
OneHub by Benefex is the world’s first employee experience platform, and is the leading innovative technology in the employee reward and benefits space. OneHub is an all-encompassing global HR technology platform, which serves both employers and their people to better the overall employee experience. It’s mobile-first, intuitive, consumer-led design means that employees can access and view their benefits any time, anywhere, on any device, at their convenience.
A great provider will offer a fantastic service alongside their benefits and technology. Employees may need help with remembering logins or working out the finer details of their scheme and their savings. It’s important that employees have a help centre they can call or email to get their issues dealt with smoothly and quickly.
As well as world-class, award-winning technology, Benefex offer extensive services to ensure your people are looked after. Our Employee Support Centre offers quick and expert care for your people, and takes the burden of everyday enquiries away from your HR team.
What do you need?
The main thing an employer needs is a reward and benefits platform that makes their life easier, not more difficult, and one that gives their people an all-encompassing, exceptional employee experience, every day:
Professor Nick Bacon from Cass Business School says, “even if companies are offering good benefits, if they fail to tell staff what’s available, it’s no better than not offering these benefits at all.” You know how imperative good communications are to the success of a reward and benefits scheme, so the need for communications is unavoidable. But not every provider offers comprehensive communications strategy or technology, so this is something to make sure you have on your checklist.
Our communications team have extensive expertise in delivering our clients’ communications across a whole host of different mediums to make sure the message really hits home, and that your excellent scheme gets the attention it deserves.
Reward and benefits providers are supposed to alleviate your administrative burden, rather than add to it. You need a platform with easy-to-use communications tools, analytics capabilities that report back on your data instantly and in real time, and consultants at the end of the phone in case you need advice.
Your employees need spectacular technology to engage with their platform, but you need it to do your job as well. There is a lot of technology available to you which can help perform your everyday tasks. Systems which record and track absence and holiday; tools which create, automate and send branded internal communications; intelligent and progressive real-time people analytics; social media-esque recognition software which allows employees to praise each other, and tracks your leaders; it’s all out there, and you can make the most of it. See which providers offer which pieces.
Benefex’s technology offers HR teams the ability to see the impact of their scheme in real time. Plus, its incredible Communications Manager tool enables you to schedule beautifully crafted, relevant emails which really hit home.
How do you look for providers?
There are all sorts of places where you can start looking for providers; from good old Google, to social media. One of the best places can be LinkedIn. Here you can see what your industry peers have been up to; who they recommend, and you generally get quite honest opinions of providers. You can also join LinkedIn groups like Benefex’s Employee Experience Experts, where people share their ideas on how to develop employee experience, and this can help you to plot the course you want your programme to take.
Things to check for
When you start considering providers in more depth, there are a few key boxes they absolutely need to tick before you progress them to your shortlist:
This should be a given for all reward and benefits providers, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. You may not be au fait with the most up-to-date security requirements, but your provider should be. The security requirements you need to look out for are:
Her Majesty’s Government – Security Policy Framework
The Data Protection Act 1998
OWASP – Open Web Application Security Project
Benefex has a long-standing history of excellent data security. We make sure our own systems – and those of our providers – are compliant with all of the above requirements, so our clients’ information is kept safe. Our extensive internal training ensures that all Benefex employees handle data in a secure and robust manner.
You need to know where a provider’s product is headed. If it doesn’t fit with your workforce, then you can cut your losses and move on. Providers should always have a clear plan of where their product is, what it can do, areas they are looking to develop, and how and when they’re going to get there. Is the product progressive, or is it merely reactive? Are they thought leaders and trend setters, or do they follow the crowd? You’ll want someone who is ahead of the curve, otherwise your top talent might find themselves frustrated using technology that is always one step behind.
A range of options
If they don’t provide these options as a minimum, you need to make sure these are included in the product roadmap:
Core Benefits – This is a standard package which is offered to employees; they can’t opt out or change these benefits.
Flexible Benefits – The employer pays for this package. Staff can switch between benefits, and choose which ones they want and need.
Voluntary Benefits – Employees pay for this out of their salary. The provider negotiates discounts with suppliers so that employees have access to reduced rate benefits.
Salary Sacrifice – Employees choose to sacrifice a part of their salary in return for benefits that the employer buys on their behalf. This is a tax-efficient way of accessing benefits.
Benefex’s experience in broking and managing world-class benefits to suit your employees is second-to-none. We offer a whole host of Flexible, voluntary and Anytime benefits, which we can broker specifically, or you can choose from our Marketplace.
Making your shortlist
Now you’ve got your longlist, it’s time to get it down to your top three contenders. Assuming everyone on your longlist meets all the aforementioned criteria, you now just need to check for a few last things:
Proven track record
Which of the suppliers have a decent amount of time, knowledge, and experience under their belts? Now, age doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best experience for you and your people, but you do need to know that your supplier is financially robust and that they know what they’re talking about.
- Ask suppliers in your long list for case studies on their clients of a similar size to yours, or in the same industry; you can do some peer research.
- Ask for a sample contract. You’ll want to know exactly what you’re buying into, word-for-word. Your contract will probably be bespoke to a certain extent, but you can get a good gauge of any supplier based on their fine print.
- Have there been any security breaches in the past? If so, what was done to rectify this and prevent it from happening again?
- Have they ever handled a scheme of your size?
- Do they have global clients? Providers don’t normally branch out into other countries until they’re on top of their game in their home country. If you have a supplier with global clients; you know they know what they’re talking about.
Choosing a benefits provider can be a daunting, lengthy process. But if you invest a small amount of time into this initial groundwork, the best provider for you will soon emerge, and you'll save time and money further down the line.
Sophie is a self-confessed coffee addict, with an undying love for puns and terrible jokes.
Before working at Benefex, Sophie worked in a student accommodation where she was responsible for all communications with the residents, and planning and running events in the building. She has a degree in English Literature from Edinburgh University, and heads up to the Scottish capital whenever she can. She's originally from Staines though, innit.
When she's not writing blogs, Soph can be found supporting her beloved Arsenal, watching The Simpsons, and adding to her collection of film and TV-based t-shirts.