Benefits professionals have welcomed today’s announcement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak of a package of initiatives to help protect and create jobs, and are emphasising the importance of motivated employees to fuelling the recovery.
The Chancellor has launched a national Kickstart Scheme for 16-24 year olds and has confirmed that the funding will cover 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
Sunak has also announced a scheme offering a £1,000 cash ‘bonus’ for firms hiring young people into traineeship programmes from September.
Aegon pensions director Steven Cameron says: “It’s great to see the Chancellor again support automatic enrolment by allowing employers who take on new employees under the Kickstart scheme claim not just earnings costs but also their NI contributions and employer minimum a-e contributions. While it is only those aged 22 and over who an employer needs to auto-enrol, this is a great way of kickstarting not just employment but saving for retirement.”
Legal & General distribution director, group protection Colin Fitzgerald “The pandemic has made leaders realise the crucial importance of employee wellbeing to productivity and profitability.
“Employees now entering the workforce for the first time place a premium on how companies care for them. How employers respond to wellbeing issues like stress, burnout and uncertainty will be a hallmark of their attitude towards responsibility and sustainability. Yet while 61 per cent of people trust their employer to look after their wellbeing, only 29 per cent of HR leadership have a health and wellbeing strategy in place.
“There’s a common misconception that that wellbeing programmes are too costly, especially for SMEs. But they’re only too costly where benefits are ill thought through and not communicated well.
“It’s telling that SMEs (50-249 employees) pay an average £1,078 per employee per year on one-off rewards, such as celebrations and vouchers. When, for around £650 per employee per year, they could have life insurance, income protection and critical illness cover. Such a package – communicated in a personalised and targeted way – would not only afford the business and its people financial peace of mind, but would also give employees the tools they need to keep happy and healthy: for example, immediate-access to legal, financial, physical and emotional information and support via employee assistance programmes.
“This might also extend to mental health related resources, training and best practice to help reduce stigma and support employees to thrive at work, such as that provided by Legal & General’s long-running Not A Red Card initiative. All of this would also obviously bring to the employer a competitive advantage in terms of recruitment, retention and engagement.
“Our future workforce is searching for a genuine shared purpose and the smart organisations – those that hang on to employee wellbeing lessons learnt during lockdown – will be the winners.”