Employee benefits programmes: Who are these really benefitting?


By Lia Marus 

South Africa had, according to Stats SA, 13.6 million employed people in the first quarter of 2013. During this same period, employment in the formal sector grew 0.8% while employment in the informal sector grew 4.1%. So with all of these employees currently active in the labour market, are they getting benefits packages which are actually profiting them?

Bruce Cameron – editor of the Personal Finance magazine – says that many employers do not provide their employees with benefit packages that are advantageous to their staff members. And in doing this, employers harm their companies’ bottom lines:

“An over-indebted employee is likely to be less productive than one who budgets and makes sound financial plans. The over-indebted employee is likely to have a high level of absenteeism and suffer from poor health brought on by worrying about how to repay his or her debt,” said Cameron in an article on the Personal Finance website entitled Well-structured employee benefits are good for workers – and profits.

This opinion is echoed by Mandy Barrett of Aon South Africa:

“It all has to do with contributing towards the financial stability and peace of mind of employees, which, if neglected, can impact on their workplace performance,” said Barrett in an article entitled Group Insurance Schemes Become Part of Corporate Wellness Equation on the FA News website.

How should you structure your employee benefits programme?

Very simply, you need to have a good understanding of what your employees need and consequently, what types of benefits they will profit from. For example, it is useless providing funeral cover for as an employee benefit when what would actually alleviate the financial worries of the majority of your staff members is comprehensive medical aid cover.

A number of companies understand this and have gotten it right:

  • Mercedes Benz has a strong focus on providing their staff members with training and personal improvement:

    Rainer Ruess, vice-president at Mercedes Benz South Africa (MBSA) who is responsible for manufacturing, says:

    “Senior employees can train, online, in the Daimler Academy, and use forums within the group. At the same time, we offer employees distinct opportunities to upskill through all levels of employment. Our own MBSA Training Centre, as well as various training partnership initiatives, provide extensive training opportunities, including programmes for improving qualifications at the shop-floor level, through to supervisory and management levels.” 

  • Old Mutual and MTN were both identified in the CRF Institute’s annual Best Employers Certification Index for 2012/13 as among South Africa’s top employers. Both these companies provide employee benefits which their employees value. For example, Old Mutual offers their employees flexi-time, medical aid, life assurance, retirement funding, maternity benefits, among many other benefits.

What solutions can you use in your employee benefits programme?

There are many solutions out there which you can use when you put together your employee benefits programme. Here are a few to start the ball rolling:

  • Discovery Vitality is the wellness programme offered by Discovery medical aid. This scheme rewards you, for being healthy, with Vitality points. These points are redeemable for travel, shopping and lifestyle rewards.
  • Asali is a new employee lifestyle benefits programme that is aimed at giving members lifestyle benefits that are family orientated, tangible and form part of their everyday life. As it is aimed at blue collar workers, it offers benefits which workers in this category will benefit from, for example: Funeral cover, monthly cellphone airtime, a bank savings account, a retail vouchers booklet and a salary advance feature.
  • Multiply is the rewards programme offered by Momentum Health. This programme works on a similar model to Discovery: They reward you for being healthy.

This article first appeared on HR Pulse.

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