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Employee benefit harmonisation
For many companies, the opportunities associated with the acquisition of competitors or business partners are typically access to new markets, increased revenues and the potential for significant growth. On the flip side of that coin, however, is the challenge to make cost efficiency gains by bringing two or more companies under one management and one set of HR policies and processes, thus increasing profits.
When it comes to employee benefits, there are significant challenges to overcome in managing the change, ensuring the end result meets the company’s needs and that the changes are accepted by employees. This can be made all the more difficult where the merged companies have experienced not only very different terms of employment but also different cultures.
A successful outcome will also depend heavily on the savings targets the company set in bringing employees together and how it will manage the ‘losers’ when some terms are inevitably reduced.
Together, these factors make harmonisation of benefits (and wider terms and conditions) one of the most challenging projects to undertake, whilst potentially offering the opportunity for significant cost savings, and it therefore must be managed across all levels of the company.
Thomsons Online Benefits is the market leader in flexible benefits by number of clients, awards and the number of people we employ who are dedicated to these services. We have successfully delivered over 250 flexible benefits schemes for companies in the UK ranging from 20 to 20,000 employees in size.
We know that for companies wanting to deliver a successful harmonisation programme, it is a combination of the policy design and the approach to communication that will determine the success of the change. Our harmonisation project solutions allow us to support all parts of the process.
Whether the level of change covers all terms & conditions for all employees or only a few benefits for some, there are some common steps that are required. We offer the only fully-integrated solution, combining consultancy, communications and technology. Here is a little more on each:
· Consultancy – whether looking at the position from the company’s perspective or each employee’s, financial modelling and impact analysis are critical to designing the right scheme and ensuring the cost implications are understood. We conduct Feasibility Studies, as a standalone assessment of the situation to allow you to build and agree the business case for change, as well as detailed Scheme Design, once the project is in-flight and you want to look at each outcome.
· Communications – the key to successful communication is making sure the right level of messaging is delivered by the right person at the right time. Thomsons have the required expertise to help you agree the messages, content and communication plan to deliver the change to the whole population as well as individual employees. Whether you are using consultation as the method for change or a simpler approach, targeted communications are the key to success.
· Technology – one of the biggest platforms for efficiency gains is in the reduced administration of having only one set of policies and providers for benefits. The other area where gains can be made is by passing the ongoing management of benefits onto employees under ‘self-service’. Our Darwin™ platform allows employees to see their new Total Reward Statement, post-harmonisation, accept the changes that are being made to their benefits and continue to manage them thereafter.
Our winning combination of consultancy, communications and technology means that we have many delighted clients, each with a tailored approach to harmonisation of benefits including Alliance Medical, Azzurri, bwin.party, and Celerant .
Flexible benefits can also be an effective tool to help companies with benefits harmonisation. Thomsons have helped many companies establish a new, single, flexible package for all of their employees and, in doing so, supported those companies through significant cultural change.
The advantages of flexible benefits as a harmonisation tool are threefold:
- They may allow the employee to return to the benefit package they had before harmonisation (potentially at a cost to them), mitigating any negativity around the change of terms;
- They can provide a platform for integration of future acquisitions, by ensuring the breadth of benefits is wide enough to cope with an potential offering from the acquired business; and
- Having flexible benefits technology can help with communication of the change, as it is easy to demonstrate to employees “what’s in it for me” and easier to use concepts such as Total Reward to demonstrate the value of their new terms.
Want to Know More?
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