Pensions & employee benefits roundup - July 2017

26 July 2017

Puppies and Perks in the workplace

Last month saw ‘National Bring your dog to work day’ - an annual event encouraging people to bring their dogs to work to raise money for charity. As a dog lover myself, it got me thinking about how perks influence our productivity and experience in the workplace.

HOWND which founded the event believes dogs in the office can increase productivity, improve job satisfaction and reinforce positive work behaviours. A 2016 survey supports this and found that 88% of people think pets at work improve morale and 86% believe it reduces stress.

Around 8% of US and UK employers allow dogs at work including companies such as Google who state “affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture” and Amazon where around 2,000 employees have registered their pets to the head office so they can bring them into work. This increasing trend is proving more than just a fun perk. Bringing dogs to work is beneficial for the employees’ morale which affects their productivity and thus impacts the success of the employer.

With flexibility increasingly sought after, by allowing dogs at work employees are likely to stay later and work longer if they don’t need to rush back to feed them. Our research reinforces the demand for flexibility and found that promoting a good work/life balance was something that 24.5% of employees would like. Craft beer organisation Brewdog has embraced this desire for flexibility and introduced paid puppy leave for staff. This shows their appreciation for life outside of work and the importance of welcoming a new puppy into the family!

As shown above, an employer can dictate its own culture to reflect its identity as a brand. Understanding what makes your employees’ tick and thinking beyond the conventional benefits is pivotal. It’s less about employees bringing dogs into work and more about the meaning behind it. It’s about supporting and embracing something that is important to your employees. Whether it is introducing flexible working hours for those with children or working from home if you have a long commute, flexibility in the workplace comes in many forms.

A final thought: Like dogs, benefits come in all shapes and sizes. From bringing your dog to work to paid puppy leave, a small perk can go a long way for the both the employee and the employer.


Throughout the month our research team keep a close eye on what is happening in the pensions and employee benefits industries. Here is a roundup of the best news articles and stories for June 2017.

Employees with money worries are 50% more likely to report signs of poor mental health that affect performance at work
Money and Mental Health, 31 May

New analysis by The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, sponsored by Salary Finance, has revealed that over two thirds (67%) of employees who are struggling financially report at least one sign of poor mental health that could affect their ability to function at work. These include loss of sleep, poor concentration, and reduced motivation.

60% use digital communications to improve benefits engagement
Employee Benefits, 1 June

Just over two-thirds (68%) of employer respondents use digital communication to improve employee engagement with benefits, according to research by Employee Benefits and Staffcare.

UK: Confusion over finances and regret over past mistakes highlight need for early and continued financial education 
Aviva, 1 June

More than 4 in 10 UK consumers say that they are still negatively impacted by financial mistakes they made in the past, according to new research from Aviva. A greater number still say they wish they had managed their finances differently (64%) and almost the same number (63%) wish they had learnt more about financial matters when they were younger.

Private sector staff feel more supported around mental health
Employee Benefits, 1 June

Just under half (49%) of respondents working in the public sector felt supported when disclosing mental health problems, compared with 61% of those working for private sector organisations, according to research by mental health charity Mind.

Employers contacting sick employees
HR Magazine, 5 June

Managers may unintentionally be creating a culture where staff are expected to always be available. More than half of business owners have contacted an employee while they were on sick leave, according to research from breatheHR.

Why companies should engage on pension scheme governance
Capita Employee Benefits, 5 June

A series of recent statements and consultations from the Pensions Regulator, DWP and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) are placing increasing responsibilities on Trustees of trust-based pension schemes and will make good governance an even more important issue for them.

Flat rate of tax relief could save government £13bn
Professional Pensions, 6 June

Introducing a flat rate of tax relief at 20% could save the Treasury up to £13bn, according to calculations by the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI). In a briefing analysing the various pension pledges made in the run-up to this Thursday's general election, the institute also estimated a 30% flat rate would have no impact.

47% believe one-off perks are used to compensate for long working hours
Employee Benefits, 7 June

Almost half (47%) of respondents believe their employer uses one-off perks to compensate staff for working long hours, according to research by bikes-for-work organisation Cyclescheme. 

Patrick Thomson: Effectively managing age diversity will benefit employers and staff
Employee Benefits, 7 June

The number of older people in society is growing; more people are living longer, which means more people are working longer. As the workforce ages, mixed-aged teams will become an increasing part of the day-to-day reality of many businesses.

Financial stress impacting employee health and performance
Reward, 8 June

Over two thirds (67%) of employees who are struggling financially report signs of poor mental health which impact their ability to perform well at work, according to research from The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and Salary Finance.

Cabinet Reshuffle: David Gauke appointed Work and Pensions Secretary
The Independent, 11 June

David Gauke, a relatively unknown MP who was previously chief secretary to the treasury, has been appointed the new Work and Pensions Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle. He will take over the role from Damian Green, who will effectively function as Deputy Prime Minister in his new job as First Secretary of State and Cabinet Office Minister.

87% value access to legal advice through their employee benefits package
Employee Benefits, 12 June

More than three quarters (87%) of respondents value access to legal advice as an employee benefit, according to research by legal services organisation Epoq. Its survey of 2,002 UK adults also found that 95% of respondents cite pensions as a valued employee benefit.

Employers freeze pay to fund National Living Wage
HR Magazine, 12 June

Employers have frozen or reduced pay to meet requirements, although some have extended the NLW to all staff. Almost a quarter of employers have frozen or reduced pay to cope with the National Living Wage (NLW) introduction, according to an XpertHR survey.

Real wages will soon hit ‘lowest point in two centuries’
People Management, 12 June

Leading think tank says pay is stagnating, as ONS reveals largest hike in inflation in nearly four years. Rising inflation, the impending Brexit negotiations and the fallout from the general election are contributing to an unprecedented squeeze on UK pay, speakers at an event hosted by the Resolution Foundation warned yesterday.

Time To Say It Out Loud: Our Society Is Writing Off Ageing
Huffington Post, 16 June

What do you want to be when you’re older? A common question asked of children. But why are we not asking people over 50 the same question? Getting old is life. But it seems to me that we are failing to inspire people to pursue ambition and aspiration in later life. Think about it, what images do we see about getting older?

Martin Bartlam: Blockchain technology advances can enhance the pensions experience
Employee Benefits, 19 June

Imagine you can look up the balance of your benefits at any time, perhaps making a payment or adjusting an investment allocation. You may think that it is not very exciting to have instant access to your pensions statements. But what you are looking at is your asset pool, not a record, and it is using blockchain.

Employees lose out on £2bn of matching contributions
Professional Pensions, 19 June

Millions of workers are missing out on 'buy-one-get-one free' pension cash from their employers, according to analysis by Royal London. The provider found that those who contribute only at the minimum rate to a workplace pension, or who do not take up the full match, are missing out on additional employer matching contributions.

44% would consider leaving their job if paid incorrectly
Employee Benefits, 20 June

More than two-fifths (44%) of global employee respondents would consider leaving their job if they were paid incorrectly, according to research by global HR and payroll service provider SD Worx.

What impact do financial pressures have on employees’ physical and mental health?
Capita Employee Benefits, 20 June

34% of employees have lost sleep because of financial worries, and a further 34% are feeling stressed because of their current financial situation.

Employees value benefits more as financial pressures rise
BQ Live, 21 June

Employees are increasingly recognising the value of their workplace benefits as financial pressures increase, new research from MetLife’s UK Employee Benefit Trends Study 20171 shows.

Parents suffer poor work/life balance
HR Magazine, 21 June

Forty-one per cent of the UK parents surveyed do extra hours all the time or often. Only a third (34%) of UK working parents go home on time every day, according to a study by Working Families and Bright Horizons.

National Bring Your Dog to Work Day gives HR paws for thought
People Management, 23 June

Almost two-thirds of People Management readers support bringing dogs to work. Dogs have a longstanding reputation as man’s best friend – and, on national Bring Your Dog to Work Day, almost two-thirds of People Management readers think they can also make excellent colleagues.

Efforts Increase To Bring Health And Other Benefits To Independent Workers
NPR, 23 June

The list of perks Dan Teran's company offers sounds pretty dreamy. Anyone working 120 hours a month gets employer-sponsored medical, dental and vision insurance. His company, Managed by Q, also offers a matching 401(k) retirement program, paid time off, a stock option program for all employees, and 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Higher-salary jobs less likely to offer flexibility
HR Magazine, 26 June

Only one in 10 positions with a salary between £20,000 and £34,000 offer flexible working. Higher-salaried jobs are less likely to offer flexible working than more junior roles, according to a report from Timewise.

Video tutorial: Improve, inform and integrate your pay and benefits strategy using data analytics
REBA, 26 June

Self-confessed data cynic Alex Tullett, head of benefit strategy at Capita Employee Benefits, took to the stage at the REBA Reward Leaders' Forum to talk….data.

Breaking down barriers for younger employees – benefits need to be relevant, affordable and convenient
Capita Employee Benefits, 27 June

One of the bugbears that HR Directors talk to us at Capita about is the difficulty in getting younger employees to really engage with the benefits they provide. Take-up is generally lower for younger employees than older ones and it can be difficult to get young employees to see the benefits available to them, let alone select them.

38% believe workplace pensions are the safest way to save for retirement
Employee Benefits, 27 June

More than a third (38%) of respondents aged under 40 years old or aged 40 and over who have not yet retired believe that a workplace pension scheme is the safest way to save for retirement in the period July 2016-December 2016, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Britain needs to start planning for the 100 year life
Professional Pensions, 28 June

Improvements in longevity means individuals have to think creatively about how they might spend their time in later life, according to London Business School professor Andrew Scott.

Poll: 34% want the new pensions minister to focus on simplifying pensions taxation
Employee Benefits, 29 June

Employee Benefits poll: More than one-third (34%) of employer respondents want the new pensions and financial inclusion minister to prioritise the simplification of pensions taxation.

A soft touch
Pensions Age, June

In such a complex, technical world, it’s important the pensions industry can communicate and empathise with members on a more basic level, with the aim of securing the best outcomes at retirement. But just how prevalent are soft skills among the industry?


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