It’s about family benefits, not just employee benefits

Parents holding their child's hand on a beach at sunset


When we think workplace benefits, we think employee benefits. But these benefits shouldn’t just stop at the employee.

Employers need to take a more holistic approach, using employee benefits as a platform to provide for the whole family, not just the employee.

This is already commonplace with some benefits, such as dental and private medical insurance. Each usually offer some sort of family cover to employees using a flexible and voluntary selection platform. However, this generally doesn’t extend to benefits such as life insurance and critical illness cover. These are typically only offered to the employee.

Yet the workplace can have a pivotal role to play in providing financial protection products which can cover the whole family. Products that families may not otherwise have access to.

Family benefits should be suitable for as many families as possible. With increasing numbers of couples living together who are not married or in a civil partnership, who have dependents and a mortgage, modern living is causing a change in the way financial benefits are set up.

Fortunately products are changing to meet the demands of modern living. Employers need to make sure these are included in their family benefits programme. Critical illness cover as an example, can now be extended to cover cohabiting partners and children from their date of birth.

Business benefits

Of course, it’s not just the employee and their family who will benefit. Employers and their businesses will also reap rewards from being a more holistic workplace benefit provider.

By providing employees with the option to cover their family, those families are then more likely to become advocates for the company and its cause. This is, of course, good for retention. Where an employee’s spouse or child is covered under a life or critical illness product for example, they are likely to think twice about leaving the company due to their valuation of such benefits.

What’s more, in a crowded recruitment market, providing family benefits is likely to attract the best talent.

It’s cost effective

Through a voluntary scheme, employers provide their people with the option to extend cover to their family at the employee’s own cost. As it is arranged through a group scheme, cover will normally be cheaper for employees than if they were to buy individual policies.

Premiums are generally collected via payroll, so it’s simple and convenient for employees. Although they will not benefit from income tax and national insurance savings, due to a recent change in legislation.

While the cost of the insurance is paid for by the employee in this case, employers still need to ensure they have an online benefit platform to administer benefit selections. They can also use this to communicate the benefits to employees. This requires some investment but there are many options available, suited to a range of budgets.

Providing employees with choice allows them to tailor the benefits to best suit their needs and those of their family. This flexibility improves employee engagement. The higher the engagement, the more effective and worthwhile the programme will be for the employer.

In a nutshell

Employee benefits need to go beyond just the employee. Family benefits matter too and employers have a great opportunity to become facilitators for family benefits. By providing flexible and voluntary platforms, employees can opt in to cover their spouse and children.

With an online benefits platform already in place, at no extra cost to the employer it’s a win-win situation. They can provide extra value to their employees’ and their families. All the while gaining from higher staff retention rates and being able to attract the best talent for their business.