I should think that everyone has experienced that depressing moment of opening an enticing looking present, only to find that a well-meaning relative has given you an item of clothing that either doesn’t suit, doesn’t fit, or (worse) you don’t even like.
The reason for the poor choice of gift is often that the purchaser has based their decision on an out-dated understanding of what the recipient might actually need or want. So the choice of present might well be entirely understandable, yet this lack of insight doesn’t make the item any more suitable or useful.
The options for the unlucky recipient are usually refund, exchange, or re-gift (hopefully to a different relative). And many – perhaps most of us – will not take any of these actions for fear of causing offence. The result is often that the unwanted garment is hidden away in the wardrobe where it is of no use to anyone.
Now it strikes me that there may be echoes of the above choices in other areas of business and personal life. Indeed the last option – do nothing – is often repeated by Human Resources and Finance professionals that find themselves “gifted” custody of an established company-sponsored Employee Benefits (EB) offering.
So many people would see doing nothing as a valid choice in this situation. Their rationale might include the assumption that the Employee Benefits offering is already doing its job, and was well-thought-through at outset. And of course this option involves less work, is self-evidently less hassle, and avoids causing offence to any predecessor who originally set-up the EB package.
Yet an Employee Benefits offering can quickly become less relevant or even redundant if the shape and nature of the company and/or workforce it is designed to serve is changing. So a lack of action may just be placing the EB package in the wardrobe of shame alongside those other underused gifts.
But here the analogy breaks down a little. For the unwanted Christmas present does not actually cost the recipient anything, whereas a good EB offering typically carries a regular (and often not insignificant) cost to the sponsoring employer. And, with the costs of healthcare and pensions both typically escalating annually, it’s increasingly important that the employer gets the very best return on their regular investment in Employee Benefits.
So my advice to employers – and in particular those who have recently inherited an EB package – is to regularly check the offering to ensure that it still best meets the needs of the employer and workforce it is designed to assist.
In other words make sure that the gift of Employee Benefits is wanted, useful, and above all a really good fit with the employer’s current needs and objectives.