Meesha Birch: One-size-fits-all solutions are over. The ‘flex’ revolution is here…

Meesha Birch, SimplyhealthWe have entered the world of 4G – that is four generations in any given workplace. This means any time you approach businesses you might have to target an array of age groups. What you need, now more than ever, is a solid signpost…

Hence a new white paper (web address below) explaining ‘flexible benefits’ – providing ample evidence and summarising the case in simple terms that you can take out into the field.

In a line: flexible benefits are taking off as employers look to address the needs of their multigenerational workforces and it is set for big growth in 2016.

Why? ‘Flex bens’ have been driven by the introduction of pension auto-enrolment and a fall in the cost of relevant technology. Such cost savings extend to SMEs – a burgeoning opportunity for you.

‘4G’ demographics

Four generations occupy today’s work spaces. Millennials work side-by-side with older employees sometimes in their seventies. Such a wide age range, naturally, differs in respect of lifestyle choices and life stages. Smart employers must look at how they can help all staff while addressing key HR goals of engagement, retention, recruitment and reducing absence.

Compounding this context is a wider phenomenon: our ageing population. People are living for longer, often with more health issues and insufficient pension funds. One consequence is expressed in the Office of National Statistics’ prediction that by 2020 a third of the UK workforce will be over 50.

The ‘flex bens’ solution

Flexible benefits are essential. At Simplyhealth we are seeing businesses with 100+ employees embracing flex bens. Some choose to do this with a flex platform; others administer it without. Either way, flex bens are an affordable way for employers to engage with employees, and meet their business and HR challenges.

This is why you need to know flex bens and expand your portfolio.

The demand

Simplyhealth research (2015) shows that just over half of corporates offer all their benefits on a flexible basis. There is demand from employees too with an exceptionally high figure reporting that they feel it is better to have their benefits offered flexibly.

For businesses the research showed health and wellbeing benefits as the second most popular benefit, after compulsory pensions. While more than half of employees ranked health and wellbeing benefits as one of their top three benefits.

Many more findings about what clients want – and how you can deliver – are found in the full detail of the 15 page white paper (web address below).

Growth

The health and wellbeing benefit that is set to show the biggest growth in 2016 is a ‘health cash plan’. Research by REBA shows that the number of companies offering cash plans on a flexible basis is set to grow by over 54% in 2016, meaning this should become a key part of your conversation with clients when discussing the make-up of their benefits package.

Employee engagement

Of course, signing up a new flex client is the first challenge – the second challenge is to drive uptake amongst employees. Employees cannot be expected to engage with their benefits without encouragement. Our research shows that employees spend on average only 7 minutes per year selecting benefits, while in most cases flex windows are open for just one month at a time.

At Simplyhealth we engage with our clients’ employees face to face. We have the largest worksite marketing team in our industry who can visit with clients’ employees. This gives employees the chance to ask questions and gain a realistic understanding of the benefits available. It helps to drive uptake which in turn means more revenue. It’s important for us to work with our intermediary partners in this way to help drive mutually beneficial partnerships which help both parties.

Download our white paper – ‘Addressing the challenges of the 4G workforce’ – specifically designed for intermediaries, highlighting what you can do to help your clients: www.simplyhealth.co.uk/intermediaryflex

Meesha Birch is employer & intermediary marketing manager at Simplyhealth