While the majority of South African businesses recognise the need to offer a comprehensive employee benefits and retirement savings offering to their employees, many still don’t.
While the reasons for this vary from employer to employer, the main one appears to be a mistaken belief that employee benefits schemes are difficult to set up, time-consuming to administer and expensive to run.
But, according to Elize Giese, CEO of Employee Benefits at FNB, this is not the case.
“As a division of one of South Africa’s largest banks, FNB Employee Benefits has the unique opportunity to gain insights into the employee benefits perceptions and actions of many businesses, of all shapes and sizes,” Giese says, “and we have found that up to 70% of the business clients we speak to don’t currently offer formal employee benefits to their staff members.”
Giese says that it’s a concerning statistic, not only because employee benefits and retirement investment opportunities are so vital for the long-term financial wellbeing of South African employees today, but also because it reveals a widespread misperception amongst businesses in the country regarding the cost and complexity of employee benefit schemes.
“Most of the employers we speak to say that they recognise the importance of offering employee benefits, and the value that these schemes offer their employees and their own businesses in terms of talent attraction and retention,” Giese explains, “but many either don’t know where to start when it comes to establishing an Employee Benefit scheme, or mistakenly believe that doing so is too expensive.”
But Giese emphasizes that these fears are unfounded, pointing out that today’s employee benefit schemes offer employers the flexibility to tailor them precisely to their needs and budgets.
“At FNB we understand that our clients need flexibility.” she explains, “We have a huge diversity of employers, from SMMEs to large corporates, and they require a package of benefits that meets their unique risk cover and retirement savings needs, at a price they, and their employees, can afford.”
Another concern that Giese says comes up almost as frequently as perceived high costs is the idea that offering a comprehensive employee benefits scheme will require additional human resources, or ‘steal’ the time of the company owner or manager who should rather be focusing on other aspects of running the business.
“The truth is that, while there may be a requirement to invest time into first setting up an employee benefits scheme,” she explains, “the evolution of umbrella fund schemes means that they integrate into most existing payroll and HR systems, and once established, require limited involvement from the business owner, HR reps or payroll staff. Our clients want to focus on managing their business and it is important for us to remove the administrative burden for our clients.”
“In addition to allowing smaller businesses to compete with their larger counterparts in attracting and keeping top talent, a good employee benefits scheme protects your company from the financial obligations of requests for loans or money from family members when an employee falls ill, gets injured or passes away,” she explains.
And she cites a number of other significant advantages for employers and employees, particularly if the employee benefits offering is comprehensive and includes savings plans, financial education, easy access to all their retirement fund information and the option of financial advice.
“FNB has built all of these components into its employee benefits solution,” she says, “which means that employers offering our schemes are in a position to empower their staff with vital knowledge and understanding to secure future they want.”