Employee benefits come in so many shapes and sizes that it's almost impossible to create a scheme which pleases every one of your team members. Billy in accounts might be keen on a discounted gym membership, but Sally might prefer cut-price (or even free) cinema tickets.

So, how do you please Billy, Sally and the rest of your workforce without breaking the company budget? The answer lies in a voluntary benefits scheme.

Voluntary benefits are an increasingly popular means of providing employee benefits, with one study showing that 94% of employers predict it will be a key part of their employee rewards strategy over the next three years.

In this article we'll explain how voluntary benefits work and how they help employee and business alike.

What are voluntary employee benefits?

A voluntary benefits scheme provides employees with a list of perks to choose from. Rather than get automatically enrolled into a perk they don't want, it gives them freedom of choice.

Now you might be thinking: this sounds a lot like a flexible benefits scheme? And you'd be right. However, there's one crucial difference. In a voluntary benefits scheme, the workers' pay for the benefits they want via payroll.

Voluntary employee benefits are most commonly provided as part of an employee benefits platform. These are user-friendly applications, accessible via mobile device or computer, that employees can use to manage their perks.

Employee benefits platforms provide staff members with a simple and efficient overview of all the benefits that are available, as well as the means to easily manage their pre-existing perks.

Providers of these platforms usually offer an impressive volume of different benefits and continue to expand their offerings on a regular basis, as new perks become available.

Why are voluntary benefits more appealing?

There are two perspectives to consider: the employee and the employer.

The employee's view

Employees usually find voluntary benefits appealing option because of the freedom of choice it offers. The sheer range of benefits which can be made accessible to them, is far greater that could be provided by a fixed scheme (unless you have an almighty budget for employee benefits!). While the cost is not covered by the business, they will still get discounted prices for whatever they opt-in to.

In other words, the employee gets a good value deal on whatever tickles their fancy. This freedom will also allow employees to get more use out of their benefits packages, which can often go to waste when a team member has no use for a particular perk that they are receiving.

The business perspective

Voluntary benefits offer a variety of advantages for businesses, especially when compared to more conventional employee benefits packages.

The first and most obvious benefit is cost saving. If you're a company with a limited budget for employee perks, then a voluntary benefits scheme could be a shrewd option. While it requires a small initial investment to set up, thereafter the employees are responsible for purchasing their own benefits through the system.

Benefits platforms can also save a significant volume of work that would normally be managed by a HR department. As well as alleviating the stresses associated with these duties, employee benefits platforms can ultimately save both money and time.

Many of the packages that are offered with employee benefits platforms can also prove to be cheaper overall than paying for individual perks. Keeping track of all of your benefits under a unified plan can also make the payments much easier to track.

The value provided by benefits platforms can also potentially increase over time. This is because the platform providers continue to evolve and expand their list of offerings - creating more opportunities for employees to take advantage.

Who are the most prominent voluntary benefits providers?

Voluntary employee benefits are an ever-expanding market, with new providers and platforms being formed every year, each offering a unique selection of rewards for businesses to consider.

Some of the most prominent employee benefits platforms in the UK include:

  • Thanks Ben
  • Perkbox
  • Reward Gateway
  • Fair Care

Each has a website which provides more information about the packages they offer and price points. However, it's impossible to get a like-for-like price comparison as each service provides different features. The best way to kickstart the process is by setting your budget and identifying the precise needs of your business and its employees.

Can a benefits broker help?

Most insurance brokers have pre-existing working relationships with many of the most popular providers in the UK, which allows them to offer their customers unique deals that can't be accessed anywhere else.

Insurance brokers can also use their expert knowledge of the industry to find the employee benefits platform that is best suited to the budget and the needs of specific businesses.

At Hooray Health & Protection, we take the time to get to know your business and what it is that you want. Our team of insurance experts have vast experience in working with start-ups and small businesses throughout the UK, to find them the best benefits, at the lowest prices.

Whether you're looking to hire one of Hooray's experts, or simply ask some questions on how the platforms usually work, our team is happy to help. Use the chat box to the right or email us at hello@hoorayinsurance.co.uk