Benefits that come on top of the very basic salary seem to be changing with the times in the UAE.
They have been a topic of much discussion among the expat community and many times the deciding factor whether an employee will come on board or not.
Broadly termed as expat package in the UAE, it includes paid accommodation, health insurance, education allowances and many other things. But what is very important to one candidate may seem a waste of money to another and employers are caught in this tricky situation of how to keep everyone happy.
In such a scenario, wouldn’t it be nice that employees actually got to pick and choose the benefit they desire and need the most, keeping both the parties happy and content?
Consulting firm Mercer has developed such a flexible benefits programme for Middle East organisations. A flexible benefits offering called 'myChoice' lets employers effectively manage benefits costs while allowing employees to choose the coverage and benefits that best suit their individual needs.
“With intense competition for talent and rising healthcare and benefits costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies in the Middle East to attract top talent and ensure staff loyalty within their benefits budget.
“The rising cost of healthcare, housing, travel and education is increasing the cost of benefits packages offered by employers compared to the past. Yet, even with increasing expenditures on benefits, turnover is still high.
"One of the reasons for this is the rich diversity of employees in the region, each with their own specific view on what a desirable benefits package might look like.
Many benefit packages in the region have a similar look and feel, leaving employees in a position where one package can look much the same as another, making it a challenge to meet employee needs, limiting the use of benefits as an employee retention tool,” says the company in a statement.
But they claim that with this new offering employers can differentiate their benefits offering by empowering their employees to customize their own benefits packages, appealing to a diverse workforce and engaging employees by offering them choice.
And, this programme is very flexible. “The programme allows employees to select and re-assign their employer’s existing benefits budgets towards the benefit package that they want.
"Employees are given the option to sell core benefits and purchase others that more appropriately suit their specific situation, shifting away the one-size-fits-all system to custom fıt.
"For example, an employee without children would have very little use for an education allowance, but may instead prefer extra annual leave. On the other hand, an employee with a new family may choose comprehensive medical coverage along with savings plan and child education benefits.”
Just as employees, the employers, as claimed by Mercer, will also benefit from this programme.
“Equally important for employers, myChoice can save employers money. It is an effective cost containment approach for expensive benefits like medical insurance to enable employee and employer cost sharing.”