Ask most HR and reward professionals, and they’ll tell you change is necessary. Businesses are transforming, and their benefits systems and processes have to evolve with them. But that doesn’t make change any easier.
There are two obstacles that may be getting in the way of change:
Firstly: due to internal issues or conflicting business priorities, the decision may be completely out of your hands.
Secondly: you may be feeling hesitant to embark on something new. Making a major change to a benefits strategy is daunting; it’s something you’ll do maybe a handful of times in your career, and it takes time.
Employees can also react negatively to change in the first instance. Their discomfort can be hard to deal with but will only be temporary. If change is made for a clear reason and executed well, your employees will soon accept it and take it as a positive thing.
So why does change need to happen?
There are numerous reasons why a business may need a significant benefits shake-up, and, more often than not, these can be broken down into four main drivers:
1) Legislative change
Legislation around benefits is constantly shifting, but you can’t wait for this to cement your scheme. There could be changes in government which lead to prospective laws being scrapped, or touted changes could take years to materialise. Take stock, accept the dynamic landscape and be proactive instead.
2) Social change
The workforce is changing. The life events people go through are still the same – marriage, purchasing a house, having children – but they’re now happening at different times. You may have the same benefits structure you did a decade ago but you cannot guarantee the same outcomes– it’s quite likely you will not have the flex that’s now needed.
3) Business change
We’ve come out of two recessions and are currently facing unpredictability following Brexit. Organisations prefer predictability and are under a huge amount of pressure to save money. Nevertheless there’s a war for talent so think about which benefits will help you attract and retain key staff, whilst also considering whether they’re a viable option for the business.
4) Technological change
This is constant, and is now putting an incredible amount of pressure on benefits strategy to keep up. You need to consider how you can embed technology as part of your strategy e.g. how will this impact the way benefits are accessed and selected?
What’s the impact of all this change?
Benefits are more varied and greater in number than they’ve ever been before, but engaging employees in their schemes remains as much of a challenge as ever. Contributions into benefits continue to fall because policies are so broad that they’re failing to engage people – take pensions for example, or because costs are too high – health schemes’ uptake is declining.
There’s no reason to fear change. Yes, it can take time and be unpredictable, but as long as you keep the problem you want to solve and why at the forefront of your mind, and create objectives and new principles before you create the design, you will succeed.
To learn more about how you can successfully complete a major benefits change, view our webinar How Do You Make Major Benefits Change a Positive?