Halloween Horrors: When Employee Benefits Don’t Offer Any Real Benefit!

No matter how enthusiastic their initial launch is voluntary employee benefits sites are sometimes left to their own devices. When this happens, they quickly decay, becoming forgotten corners of a corporate intranet, waiting to trap the unwary. Here’s a blast from my own past that got me considering the importance of strategically aligned employee benefits…

A Poor Introduction To Value-Added Benefits

Ambling around my new employer’s intranet during a quiet lunch hour, I came across a voluntary employee benefits site. I’d been with the firm for a couple of months, but never heard anything about it. It hadn’t been mentioned at my induction, on-boarding meetings or in conversation with my line-manager.

Emblazoned with the firm’s logo and promising a number of exclusive deals but looking slightly at odds with the rest of the firm’s intranet, I clicked on the link. Intrigued, I asked a colleague what the site was. She shrugged and said something unintelligibly non-committal.

It was a bit of a struggle to get into the site. Despite being fully registered with the company, I was unaware of my access details and so needed to go through a fresh registration process and come up with a new username and password. It only took four or five minutes, but I had a meeting at two o’clock, so I got as far as I could and then left it for the rest of the day as work demanded my attention.

I was in early the next day, so I thought I’d have another look. I had to go back to the start of the registration process, but I could do that while my morning tea brewed and eventually, steaming mug in hand, I made it into the site.

What I found in there was frankly astonishing. There were hundreds of deals. Given a free half an hour I could sort out my partner’s birthday, get my dental insurance renewed at a lower cost, book a holiday and hire the car from the comfort of my desk. The problem came when I tried to book the deals.

It turned out that many of them were out of date, and there was no way of telling which were valid until you’d gone through the process of trying to buy them. I eventually realised that the site was duff and needed to be taken down, but not before I’d lost a good couple of frustrating lunch-hours.

In a funny sort of way, it made me think about my employer a bit differently. If they could invest in launching but not maintaining a voluntary employee benefits scheme, what else would I discover in the months ahead?

What Should Have Happened – Extracting True Value From Employee Benefits

Employee benefits schemes are often launched with great fanfare but they quickly wither if they don’t have senior patronage, constant communication and active administrative support. All too often they are left in a dusty corner of the intranet, a tick in a HR box but adding no actual value to a firm’s employees.

What a voluntary employee benefits scheme should do is encourage the feeling that a company is supporting its employees, making life easier for them by giving them access to flexible, often money-saving, benefits that they can take advantage of if they choose to. They should also offer a level of exclusivity that will get people talking about them in lifts.

In some cases however, those people charged with running the benefits schemes are not experts in the technology. They’ve got other things that they want to be getting on with, and as a result, obsolete deals are left in place, and the site (like some intranet sites generally) simply becomes a morass of obsolete deals and dead links that no one really has responsibility for. There’s probably some good stuff on there somewhere, but no one has the time to investigate.

Equally, as the firm and its workforce evolves, a voluntary employee benefit site can be left behind, and it simply becomes an afterthought rather than something that is expected to add value to an employee’s overall reward package.

According to research carried out for our recent white paper, The Evolution of Reward Technology, 70% of employees don’t feel valued by their employer. Making sure that your employee benefits genuinely add value can be an effective way of reducing this number. If employees feel valued, they are more likely to stay loyal to your firm and innovate during their time with you.