September 24, 2019

In conversation with... Alex Bennett

Nick Richardson
PR Manager

What are the current trends in the Employee Benefits industry?

One of the most interesting trends to emerge is the shift towards offering employees more aspirational and experience focused benefit opportunities. This is helping support employer’s broader employee experience goals, something which has proved difficult to achieve through the repackaging and repromotion of traditional benefits approaches.

This also reflects the wider shift we have seen in society, with people increasingly choosing to live their lives in pursuit of ‘aspirational experiences’ and some actively curating their lives and competing socially to seek out the most impressive experiences accessible to them and looking to their career choices to help in this.  

What are the key challenges for benefits provision?

Keeping pace with change is certainly one of them. Delivering on promises to better support employee experience through investment in technology and digitalisation of benefits another.  

Whilst many employers are quick to recognise that improving employee engagement and satisfaction through offering attractive new benefits and rewards is better than simply increasing pay, creating real differentiation that truly resonates with employees is not easy.  

For many, the promised personalisation of employee experience and benefits, through the now established benefit platforms falls some way short of their initial hopes and expectations. This is both an opportunity and challenge for benefit professionals and one that I think Upgrade Pack are well placed to help with.   

What are the opportunities?

The biggest opportunity is for employers to offer an impressive and inspirational benefit. This will help give their employees access to highly valued and personalised experiences, which our research tells us will appeal to the vast majority of people, including their most energised and engaged employees.  

We’ve created Upgrade Pack to provide precisely this. Leisure and travel feature highly in the types of experiences that people are now actively seeking, which has prompted airlines and hotels around the world to invest heavily in developing ever more impressive travel experiences.By partnering with these airlines/hotels and building our next generation technology, we’re offering employers the kind of personalised benefit that the market is seeking.

There are also very practical benefits to promoting leisure and travel for employees. The latest CIPD research confirms again that employees need to be reminded and encouraged to take annual leave, so anything that employers can do to better promote their investment in leave and flexible working policies is invaluable. This is especially so given the important role leave and travel can play in helping to refresh and replenish our reserves and improve our mental health and wellbeing.

Whether your employees are frequent premium travellers, occasional tourists or are seeking a special experience for a landmark trip, Upgrade Pack can help.

What other experience-based benefits can employers offer?

Other experiential based benefits such as ‘red letter’ days, restaurant discounts and cinema access have been adopted by employers, many of which have offered them in behavioural incentive programmes.

However, these don’t deliver such a personal and impactful experience compared with securing a valued airline or hotel upgrade, which has created a lot of excitement around our platform.

The last time I recall seeing an experience-led benefit create such excitement as Upgrade Pack was through the launch of a similarly aspirational offer – access to a closed market ‘version’ of Apple Store. Employers leveraged the buzz that Apple and iTunes were generating by offering employees the ability to purchase iPhone’s, iPad’s and MacBook’s from salary through a then new ‘online digital store’. The take up, spend and enthusiasm surprised and delighted all involved.    

Things move on and we are now all used to phone and device launches, but the point remains that benefits which appeal to employee aspirations to help support their lifestyle aims are be highly valued.

The future

For those employers best able to offer inspirational, high-value experiences as part of their benefits strategy I believe they can look forward to seeing and hearing their most valued employees‘ wax lyrical’ about these positive experiences in their social groups. This will in-turn create the kind of positive advocacy that promotes overall brand experience, and positively impact talent retention and acquisition like nothing else!  

To start the conversation about how you can offer Upgrade Pack to your employees, click here.

Employee benefits
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