CIPD urges flexible benefits action

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has urged the government to stick to its guns on proposed employee benefits reforms.

Employee relations adviser at the organisation Mike Emmott believes the coalition should force through legislation that would enable workers to request flexible working perks by 2015.

There has been mounting pressure for small businesses to be made exempt from the law changes, but Mr Emmott feels this could create a two-tier labour market.

In response to the consultation on Modern Workplaces, the CIPD representative said such arrangements would provide a “genuine business benefit” for companies of any size.

“We believe that the flexible working regulations are a great example of light-touch legislation and we see no case for excluding micro-businesses and start-ups when the regulations are extended,” he remarked.

A recent study by the CIPD showed that 54 per cent of UK workers are now looking for a new employer to secure better pay and benefits rather than job satisfaction.

Public sector workers outline passion for flexible benefits

Almost half of the UK’s public sector workers would rather take a pay cut than have their pension perks changed.

New research conducted by Badenoch and Clark has highlighted the importance of employee benefits to staff, with 45 per cent saying they would prefer a hit in wages.

The depth of feeling over the issue was reiterated as 54 per cent felt their pensions were worth striking over.

One in three London-based public sector workers said that their flexible benefits were far superior to those offered by most private firms.

Managing director at Badenoch and Clark Nicola Linkleter said the public sector is currently “in a state of crisis” and bosses need to take measures to boost staff motivation.

“Employees will remain loyal to their employer so long as they perceive that their employer is committed to its workforce,” she remarked.

Many teachers went on strike over their pensions recently and a study by Wesleyan for Teachers showed that almost nine in ten education professionals saw the packages as a key part of the job.

Employee benefits ”have been neglected”

Company pensions offered as part of employee benefits packages have been cast aside by the government, firms and individuals.

This is the viewpoint of head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown Tom McPhail, who believes there has been a “general culture of neglect” towards the perks.

He highlighted figures that showed just 34 per cent of private sector workers have signed up to corporate pension schemes.

However, he said recent steps taken by the government – such as the introduction of auto-enrolment – could help overhaul the retirement savings industry.

“A lot of the measures necessary are already in place,” he commented.

“In five years’ time the picture [will] look considerably better than it does today.”

A recent report by the Workplace Retirement Income Commission indicated that significant improvements need to be made to pension funds in order to make them more appealing to workers.

Around ten million people will start to save towards their future from 2012 when the auto-enrolment law is activated, which will force employers to place staff earning more than a certain amount on to company pension schemes.

Employee benefits vital as only one in four receive pay rise

The importance of offering cost-effective employee benefits packages to staff may have been heightened by news that just one in four workers have had a pay rise this year.

New figures provided by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) have shown that six per cent of workers have actually seen their salary cut since January.

Workers in the public sector could be in the most need of perks to boost their motivation, as they were found to be the worst affected by wage freezes.

Performance and reward advisor for the CIPD Charles Cotton said inflation was playing havoc with all employees, including those who have seen their pay go up.

“Even those who are lucky enough to get an increase in their pay will find it below the current cost of living, compounding consumer belt-tightening,” he remarked.

A previous CIPD study showed that attitudes among UK workers are shifting, as more are now looking for new jobs that will pay more, rather than searching for roles that will make them happier.

Flexible benefits pay dividends for BT

BT workers who are able to operate away from the office thanks to company employee benefits plans are said to be more productive.

According to the network provider, more than 70,000 of its staff base have the capabilities to work remotely, with 13,000 opting to stay at home each day, City AM reports.

Business development and partnership director at the firm Jon Lane said those who take advantage of the perks have been found to be 21 per cent more productive than their colleagues who travel to the office each day.

Mr Lane suggested that allowing workers to be more flexible has cut down on sickness absence.

“We have also made significant savings from reduced accommodation costs and savings from recruitment and induction costs through better staff retention,” he added.

A recent study conducted by Virgin Media Business found that the rapid emergence of remote working has led 58 per cent of UK workers to believe that offices will be non-existent in ten years’ time.

Could 4G internet encourage flexible benefits?

Next year’s planned development of 4G internet connections across the UK may have a positive impact on employee benefits.

According to director of Broadband Expert Richard Patterson, the allocation of new spectrum is a “massive opportunity” for people who live in rural parts of the UK to receive faster internet.

This could enable more companies to introduce remote working as part of flexible benefits packages, as staff will be able to make use of the stronger service to operate from home.

Mr Patterson believes that Ofcom – which will be in charge of the spectrum auction in 2012 – should force major providers to boost their networks in the UK countryside.

“The second option is for government investment to subsidise areas that are not commercially viable for the mobile networks to cover,” he remarked.

These thoughts come after Ofcom’s own advisory panel suggested that the 4G auction should be geared towards helping out rural dwellers who have been blighted by poor internet provisions for years.

Workers ”don”t understand value of employee benefits”

More than half of UK workers do not appreciate the value of the employee benefits packages offered by their bosses.

This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Standard Life and Vebnet, which has indicated that managers may have to improve employee engagement in order to get staff to make full use of corporate perks.

One in four 18 to 25-year-olds were discovered not to use their benefits at all, despite 64 per cent of workers stating that such provisions were an important consideration when they come to take a job.

The most popular luxuries were pensions, flexi-time and financial bonuses.

“Benefits optimisation is becoming increasingly important to employers and it is an exciting time to be involved in the Rewards and Benefits industry,” commented Standard Life corporate managing director Stephen Ingledew.

A study by Friends Life recently showed that women would like a different approach to flexible benefits from their bosses, with many requesting childcare vouchers and remote working arrangements when they start to build their families.