How can organisations stand out as an employer of choice?

After a treacherous 16 months, we are now emerging into the ‘new normal.’ There is no doubt that the pandemic has irrevocably transformed the way people work, think, and act. 

Organisations have learnt so much in this time, ranging from a complete shift in working arrangements to different ways of working, flexible working and moving to a more online, video world. 

Lessons were learnt, not only about new ways of flexible and agile working, but also from a health and wellbeing perspective. Everybody faced their own challenges throughout the pandemic, whether this was from a childcare or an elderly care perspective, juggling working from home or office, personal sickness or that of family and friends. 

These challenges have changed our mindset, the way we act and even our individual needs. Organisations would do well to take all of this into consideration and aim for a more strategic and holistic approach to delivering their employee benefits. 

How have employee benefits evolved?

Traditionally, employers may have offered a number of core benefits available to all with no consideration for the suitability or flexibility of the offering. Benefits were implemented without much thought about the individual’s circumstances, or what their needs were. The employer/employee relationship was much more transactional; set expectation for reciprocation. 

Now with the ever-changing workforce, including different demographics dependent on home, office or hybrid working and the fact that employees want choice, an off-the-shelf packaged benefit solution is no longer fit for purpose. 

". . . an off-the-shelf packaged benefit solution is no longer fit for purpose."

Cradle-to-grave HR

Employees generally interact with organisations on a cyclical basis, from the time they start looking for a new employer to when they become a valued employee all the way through to their exit. Some may refer to this as ‘hire, inspire to retire.’ But this employee lifecycle, or cradle-to-grave HR, is a strategic approach to people management which aims to connect employees more closely with their employer. 

At Barnett Waddingham we have integrated this approach into the benefits consultancy we provide to organisations. Our digital employee benefits platform, 4me, offers benefits for all — and from the cradle to the grave. 

Our six pillar approach to wellbeing and benefits ensures that we provide choice across a wide range of important areas, from a holistic perspective. Most importantly, this approach aims to promote a variety of choice and options that meet the individual’s particular needs and requirements. 

We base our consultancy around data and employee metrics by using sentiment from surveys or round tables and in-depth HR analytics. This helps to inform our thinking around wellbeing and benefits strategy.  

All of this ensures that the solution meets the unique needs of both employers and employees, allowing for a diverse range of suitable, relevant benefits. From our experience, we have seen an increase in financial wellbeing benefits being delivered, such as workplace savings vehicles and employer loan facilities — all backed up by the data from our in-depth analytics. 

The employee lifecycle and the human lifecycle

It is noticeable how the employee lifecycle mimics the lifecycle of an average human being and this brings to life the cradle-to-grave concept. Some employees will have elderly parents or relatives as well as children of their own (the ‘sandwich generation’) so need to look forwards and back and it’s important to recognise such differences. But all employees, regardless of age, gender or position will be at different life stages with different priorities in life. So it is important that your benefits offering is as accommodating and flexible as possible. Are you considering this when designing your benefits strategy? 

Below are some of the new and emerging trends for benefits, which are deliverable though our cradle-to-grave offering. 

We have seen an increase in employers offering family-friendly perks such as fertility services, paid leave and flexible working, helping employees become parents. This also promotes gender equality by allowing any employee to take control of their reproductive health, including those within LGBTQ+ (as invariably they require additional support when it comes to starting a family through adoption or surrogacy). A recent study found that shockingly 90% of those experiencing infertility felt some level of depression, while 42% felt suicidal*, thus further impacting on the mental health crisis the UK is facing, but also impacting on employee wellbeing and productivity in the workplace. 

Providing support services and awareness within the area of reproductive health will help build a more inclusive culture and improve employee wellbeing from both a health and financial wellbeing perspective. Organisations are including it as part of their diversity and inclusion strategies and also to stand out as an employer of choice. 

Whilst most employee benefit offerings have health screens for employees or their partners, there are now testing services that their children can access too. Due to some waiting times of up to 18 weeks** for non-urgent referrals for children, we have found parents turning to their employee benefits for the answer. This isn’t just for traditional healthcare but for things such as junior allergy testing; a simple, cost-effective home testing kit to test children for both food and environmental allergies with results and personalised guidance within a week. 

This helps to alleviate worry for parents by having quick answers and straight forward guidance about what that their child should avoid. Such screening attracts tax and NI savings for both employer and employee and, with these tests being low cost, helps make it affordable.

With 1 in 7^ working adults juggling caring responsibilities with work and often with little or no support available, times can be difficult for working carers. The study also found that as a result of being a working carer, unsurprisingly 50% of employees will end up having time off work due to meeting the demands of being a carer. More concerningly, 70% of these individuals feel it has impacted their own mental health with 60% suffering physical ill health problems.^^

This presents an issue for an employer; a likely increase in presentism or even absenteeism. The caring responsibilities invariably fall on to the ‘sandwich generation’, as mentioned above, who also make up a significant and important cohort of any workforce. Incidentally, this would more likely impact the woman within the workplace, rather than men, therefore impacting more so on the gender pay gap.

So, with provisions that offer comprehensive care services, emergency care packages and even assistive technology solutions, these can all help employees with eldercare responsibilities or emergencies, if included within your employee benefits offering. 

Navigating through the UK’s care system can often be complex, time consuming and very draining, let alone considering the postcode lottery for funding. So having care experts on the other end of the phone, who can help support you in all aspects of care is crucial. Here at BW, we recognise that this is an important aspect of any benefits package and have teamed up with L&G’s Care Concierge service, which will be offered to all new 4me clients going forward. 

I hope these topics have given you food for thought. With the job market as competitive as it is, these are some great ideas to improve your attrition and increase attraction. Ask yourself, what makes you stand out as an employer of choice? 

"Ask yourself, what makes you stand out as an employer of choice?"

If any of the above services are of interest to you, or you are considering widening your benefits offering to be more inclusive when it comes to your cradle-to-grave offering, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


*   Fertility Network UK
** Guide to NHS waiting times in England
^   Carers UK 
^^ Carers UK


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