- Pensions: final salary available to eligible staff.
- Private Medical Insurance (PMI): open to all grades of staff and their families.
- Annual leave: rising from 22 days per year to 25 and 28 dependent upon service.
- Bonuses: linked to personal performance.
- Rewards for top performers and best performing teams including days out and retail vouchers.
- EAP scheme: offering counselling and advice on a range of issues including family matters and employment.
- Health advice: offered via an online wellness product.
- Flexible working: including part-time working and nine day fortnights.
- Enhanced maternity and paternity packages.
- Salary sacrifice schemes: including childcare vouchers.
- Corporate social responsibility programme: time off for charity and voluntary work.
Most popular benefit: PMI.
Most unpopular benefit: Salary sacrifice schemes.
- Keep it simple and transparent.
- Don’t over extend the choice.
- Be flexible and open to ideas.
Everything’s ‘top banana’ for staff at AXA PPP healthcare, a UK-based business with 1,800 staff. Mark Moorton, HR Director for the organisation attributes the impressively low absence and high retention rates in part to a well-balanced benefits programme.
Being in the business of healthcare provision it is little surprise that PMI tops the list of most popular rewards. The generous scheme extends to all staff and their families and Moorton believes that its popularity has a lot to do with the understanding of the product.
“Our staff use our healthcare product because they understand it and the value it holds. Our absence levels are traditionally low at around 3% and that’s been the case for the last three or four years,” he explains.
Moorton believes that low sickness rates has something to do with the mix of available benefits focused upon wellness, fiscal and motivational rewards.
“Product advocacy plays its part. If we want to sell our services to customers we want to make sure our employees are happy with them first,” he says.
An online wellness product assessing health and offering advice on stress management, nutrition and diet gives staff the opportunity to address health concerns confidentially and at their own convenience.
Whilst a flexible working programme aims to assist staff, particularly working parents, balance caring and work/life balance issues. The nine day fortnight allows employees to work more hours on the first nine days of a two week period, giving them the tenth day off. This programme works on top of the scaleable holiday leave scheme giving staff up to 28 days leave annually.
In common with many other organisations, salary sacrifice schemes whereby employees’ forfeit wages from source in return for products including childcare vouchers haven’t been as popular as the employer funded schemes.
“I think the term ‘sacrifice’ puts staff off,” admits Moorton who even looked into the possibility of re-branding the scheme with some more positive terminology. Restricted by the Inland Revenue requirements Moorton continues to offer products via this route and is looking to extend it, cautiously, to mobile phones.
Corporate social responsibility, team and company-wide activities have been more popular. Hearts in Action allows employees to attend to school governorship duties together with time off to take part in charity work.
The emphasis on having fun at work is also apparent.
“We have themed days to celebrate the World Cup or Valentine’s Day for example. Employees can come to work in fancy dress and we have competitions and activities,” comments Moorton.
Performance related reward is also key. AXA’s ‘top bananas’ or key performers are regularly rewarded with days out and retail vouchers while teams, ‘top bunch’ are provided with meals out or team events. Treats such as these go a long way to motivate a predominantly young workforce.
Clearly this wide-ranging benefits policy is successful in addressing motivational and performance objectives but Moorton tells me that things weren’t always as straight forward.
“We used to have a cafeteria style scheme in place. But it fell apart because of its complexity. It’s important not to over extend the choice whilst at the same time being open to ideas. We have a consultative, employee-led body Vox that regularly meet and give us feedback on the benefits in place,” says Moorton.
‘Flexibility’ and ‘communication’ are the key ingredients of a benefits programme that keeps absence and competitors at bay and importantly listens and acts upon what staff want.
By Annie Hayes, HR Zone Editor.