The Business Benefits of Transition

All businesses during the pandemic have faced considerable challenges and yet despite the hurdles of the last year they have found many ingenious and innovative ways of surmounting them.

Unfortunately, I suspect that the same cannot always be said of your business’s contracted service suppliers (albeit with some honourable exceptions), and we and perhaps you have tended because of the current difficulties to generously cut them some slack (after all there is pandemic on) and have stoically put up with the inconvenience of additional work created by what are often basic slips and errors. But, in doing so you ignore the irony that as a business you would never deliver or expect your clients to accept such low standards irrespective of the Covid-19 pressures.

How have we ended up with this dichotomy? I believe the answer is very simple and that is the potential gain of changing suppliers appears far outweighed by the perceived hassle of the process in doing so amidst the restrictions of lockdown.

It is clear from discussions that we have had with many local employers that the issues I’m describing are a far from an uncommon experience, particularly in receipt of the service levels they have received from their employee benefit advisers, and unsurprisingly as these employers look ahead into 2021 it is not a situation that they are happy to maintain.

So, why does the situation continue? Largely for the reasons described above. It is not uncommon for many service level agreements to state the services, but many fail to define the finer detail of how delivery will occur and on what timeline.

So in reality the issues with Covid-19 have served to bring these aspects into focus rather than actually creating them, and this was never better illustrated when talking to an employer last week who had no idea their Private Medical provider had launched a suite of support initiatives including virtual GP services and various well-being services– details of which had been cascaded to the market some 3 months earlier, but not relayed to her by her consultants, leaving this particular HR manager to be inundated with exactly this type employees queries and totally unaware of their being help to hand.

While there is a pandemic on and the fallout is likely to continue for some time yet, the support of a proactive employee benefit consultancy force has never been needed more, helping employers to support and engage with their employees effectively particularly as many now are working from home in remote locations. The great news is that many of the product and systems providers have recognised these issues and stepped up to the plate with new and cost-effective solutions.

If you are not aware about these options and would like your business to gain advantage from more proactive support, then this is definitely a good time to consider the support and service you receive from your employee benefits team who will work with you to lift the strain and ensure your employees are fully supported going forward.

That sounds great, but what about the inconvenience of changing advisers? In reality the hassle is minimised because when you appoint professional consultants, they manage the whole process on your behalf, with your input as an employer being largely limited to signing transition documentation and in making the interesting decisions of how you want your benefit programme modelled to meet your needs.

The change over period is usually over two to three months, during which your new consultant liaises with the product providers, audit the products in question (pensions, risk, or sickness cover) to ensure any outstanding concerns are resolved and to make sure the existing framework and services are fit for purpose, so that when the changeover date is reached, it can smoothly occur, and the change is transparently communicated to the employees.

There is no need to start 2021 taking all the burden, wondering what could be done better! Help yourself and your employees by finding out what professional employee benefit support can really bring to your business.

Nigel Saunders is an Employee Benefits Consultant with Acumen Employee Benefits.