24 August 2021

How personalisation can provide a more inclusive benefits package for your employees

On a rudimentary level, personalisation is like the difference between a birthday gift that’s been carefully considered by the giver according to the receiver’s likes and dislikes, and one that hasn’t; destined to be overlooked and forgotten.

Historically, group income protection products – life, income protection and critical illness cover – have fallen into the latter camp. (Except for the few who claim of course, then their value becomes very clear).

But it doesn’t have to be this way. All your people can realise the value of benefits – whether they claim on them or not – by offering choice; giving individuals the control and autonomy to tailor products and programmes to suit; and ensuring that their relevance as part of wider wellbeing strategy is understood.

Why personalisation supports inclusion

We all now expect targeted services and products in our day-to-day lives; from viewing recommendations on Netflix to ‘frequently bought together’ suggestions on Amazon; all carefully selected by algorithms that take note of our likes and dislikes.

This - as a concept - shouldn’t be any different in the work environment. After all, you wouldn’t dream of paying your entire workforce a one-size-fits-all salary; from shopfloor to CEO. So, why offer a one-size-fits-all benefits package?

To give employees a relevant and, with that, engaging and inclusive experience when it comes to benefits, personalisation is paramount.

Consider this. In any one company in the UK right now, you’ll likely find up to five different generations, all with very different lives and responsibilities. Also, variations by gender, location, working hours and occupation. Responsible employers will have invested in generous benefit programmes, which might typically include 4 x salary for death-in-service and 75% of salary if unable to work due to long-term illness or injury.

On the face of it, this looks great. But it affords no options to tailor coverage levels to individual circumstances and needs. So, it may suit some, but definitely not all. For example, a 25-year-old single individual with a dependant – parent or child – will likely have vastly different financial and emotional needs to a 45-year-old couple with a dependant.

The upshot? Like the ill-considered birthday present, these potentially valuable benefits find themselves overlooked and forgotten.

How to ‘do’ personalised benefits

The traditional route towards benefit choice is the Flex scheme, affording your people a pot of cash on top of their salary and the opportunity to spend all or some of it on a choice of benefits during a once-a-year window of opportunity.

The potential problem here is primarily two-fold. Firstly, employee engagement outside of that once-a-year Flex window tends to be very low, if at all.

Secondly, benefits tend to be standard offers to all, as opposed to coverage that can be tailored to individual circumstances and needs.

Legal & General recently launched Protect to help counter these challenges. This is a mobile-first platform, so always visible and therefore inherently engaging, that can either complement Flex or work on a standalone basis. Employer-paid or voluntary, it gives your people the opportunity to dial up or down cover levels on a 24/7 basis, according to their individual needs and as circumstances change, across a choice of life, income protection and critical illness cover. It also applies the kind of individual underwriting that retail customers enjoy, bringing more claims certainty and greater value.

Not only that but the products come with valuable embedded wellbeing support services – from mental health and eldercare support to Long Covid programmes and nurse support services – offering personalised support for all employees to be well, get better and be supported. This ensures that benefits have the potential (where underpinned with personalised communication) to no longer sit apart from wider wellbeing programmes. And all of this for around a third of the cost of the average employer budget for one-off perks.1

Roger Fairhead, Group Reward Director at Legal & General, says that where employers already have a core level of cover – perhaps via an existing Flex scheme – and want to introduce more choice, flexibility and personalisation for all employees, Protect affords greater value for the same spend. “As well as offering a choice of coverage levels, Protect is priced according to the individual employee, as opposed to the collective.

“I might choose a cycle to work or discount vouchers – that’s the same choice for me or any other employee. Here, the pricing around Protect makes it unique to my circumstances and that’s not something that Flexible Benefits packages can currently do.”

 

1 GRiD 2019 Employer Research found that mid-sized employers (250+ employees) spend an average £1,952.70 per employee, per year, on one-off perks such as celebrations and vouchers. Legal & General says that for a quarter of that spend on Protect, they could offer the foundations of an all-employee protection and wellbeing programme.