Skip to main content
main content, press tab to continue

Cost-effective benefits for the whole workforce: A winning strategy

By Jack Curzon | February 23, 2024

How to keep a lid on costs while still offering benefits that meet the needs and expectations of an entire workforce.
Health and Benefits|Ukupne nagrade

Providing valued benefits for all employees within corporate budgets is a challenging aspiration for progressive companies. In a testing financial climate and the wide shifting demographics of the workplace, how can this be achieved?

Value trumps expense

While it's crucial to manage costs, it's equally important to offer benefits that hold high perceived value for employees.

Incorporating these benefits into your compensation package can significantly enhance job satisfaction and retention rates, ultimately benefiting your organisation's bottom line. It's not about offering the most expensive benefits, but providing the ones that truly matter to your workforce.

Widening the health benefits net

Health insurance is a benefit employees perceive to have the most value. However, it can also be one of the most expensive.

The need for affordability means most organisations’ private medical insurance (PMI) schemes typically cover only 10 – 20% of their workforce. While these select employees receive comprehensive cover for medical conditions, including consultations, diagnosis, and surgery, there is often little money left in the benefits pot for those employees who do not sit in the upper echelons of U.K. plc. Organisations could be perceived to be prioritising certain areas of their workforce’s health over the others. Benefits should be universally available.

However, some providers scale down PMI to make it more financially feasible to cover the wider workforce. This is achieved by focusing it on areas where the NHS is under most pressure, and where private healthcare makes the biggest difference. For example, lengthy waiting times can be avoided by giving employees fast access to a digital GP. This benefits the many, whereas providing private ambulances and cancer-related cosmetic or aesthetic treatment would only benefit the fortunate few.

There is a new type of product that is hitting the market which sits in the untapped space between periphery health benefits and full scale PMI. We have been exploring these and established market leading solutions to support our clients.

Similarly, diagnostic insurance is standalone cover that allows quick access to, for instance, MRI, CT scans, ultrasound and X-rays. These are assessed by a consultant and results are sent to the employee and their NHS GP within days.

Cash plans, or cash plan equivalents, are another way in which organisation can widen the healthcare benefits net. These budget-friendly alternatives to PMI provide money back on everyday healthcare expenses, such as visits to the optician, dentist, or physiotherapist, up to specified annual limits.

Some providers offer health benefits that are a hybrid of PMI and cash plans. These often combine cover for everyday healthcare needs with private specialist diagnosis and treatment, virtual GPS and cancer and heart nurse helplines.

At a time when inclusivity is the watchword, the democratisation of health benefits has never been more important.

Benefit options under the microscope

Employee benefits that don’t break the bank, but that meet the needs of your workforce, while addressing potential health, wellbeing and occupational issues, are the holy grail of the benefits world. HR and management teams should consider the following:

Wellness programs: Promote preventive health through affordable wellness initiatives, such as gym discounts, and CBT and talk therapy to support mental health.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Provide cost-effective resources for counselling, helping employees deal with personal problems that might affect their wellbeing and work performance.

Professional development: Invest in your employees' growth through workshops, online courses, or educational resources. Providing such access can enhance employees' skills and loyalty to the company without a substantial financial burden.

Paid Time Off (PTO): Gradually increase PTO based on tenure to reduce burnout and improve productivity.

Budget carefully and offer non-financial perks

When designing cost-effective benefits schemes, it's essential to define a budget and balance the needs of the diverse workforce with budgetary constraints. Additionally, non-financial perks, such as flexible working hours and remote working options can significantly enhance employee wellbeing without incurring additional costs, or, in the case of remote working, reducing office costs.

Consideration should also be given to exploring non-traditional benefits. Customised reward programs, health and lifestyle coaching, paid volunteer days, and pet-friendly policies are alternative benefits that can appeal to different segments of your workforce, while remaining cost-effective.

Innovations in employee benefits

Progressive employers are continually exploring innovative ways to provide cost-effective benefits to their workforce. Some of these innovations include:

Financial wellness programs: Offering tools and resources for budgeting and debt management can help employees reduce financial stress and enhance their overall job satisfaction.

Employee discounts: Partner with local food and drink, travel, tech and clothing retailers to offer exclusive deals to your employees.

Streamlined administration: Benefit providers are leveraging technology to simplify benefit administration, reducing administrative costs for businesses.

Voluntary benefits: Offering employees a range of voluntary benefits at group rates, such as dental insurance, vision insurance, pet insurance or identity theft protection, satisfies needs without adding financial strain.

Satisfying expectations and needs

The significance of offering cost-effective employee benefits that align with the diverse needs of the workforce cannot be overstated. Such benefits not only contribute to employee satisfaction and retention but also play a pivotal role in attracting top talent to the organisation.

A well-designed benefits package demonstrates an employer's commitment to the well-being of its workforce, creating a positive corporate culture that fosters loyalty and engagement.

The wise allocation of resources towards employee benefits that meet needs but are cost-effective is an investment that pays substantial dividends in terms of organisational success and growth.

By striking the right balance, organisations can create a win-win scenario where both the employees and the company thrive, ultimately leading to long-term success.

Complete the form opposite (or below on a mobile device) to book in for a personalised benefits assessment to ensure your benefits portfolio has kept pace with change. We can help you to better align your benefit provision to your broader business needs while also reducing costs.


Mid market leader - Health & Benefits GB

Related content tags, list of links Article Health and Benefits Total Rewards United Kingdom
Contact us