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Engage your workforce with inclusive benefits for contractors

Traditionally benefits offered in the workplace like novated leases haven’t been on the table for individuals like Neil Creasey, a contractor. However, the workforce composition is changing. Now employers are embracing a blended workforce that consists of both contract workers alongside permanent talent. 

To engage an entire workforce, benefits like car salary packaging are opening up to eligible contract hires as a way to drive optimum engagement and retention, regardless of the hire classification.

Neil, a Transformation Director and contractor through Oncore Services, bought a second-hand Subaru BRZ through a novated lease arrangement with Flare and Oncore. 

Neil came across this through a monthly newsletter sent by his employer, Oncore. “As soon as I saw the offer, I snapped it up. I thought it was incredibly innovative. Being a long-term contractor, I have seen permanent employees in businesses enjoy these sorts of benefits but never contractors. However, there is such a huge contract labour force in Australia, I think it presents a great opportunity for employers who are willing to consider offering these benefits to contractors too,” says Neil. 

Removing barriers

One of the most common barriers for employers is admin hassle. There is a misconception that novated leasing requires lots of paperwork, and tireless hours will be spent on the management of salary deductions, budget reconciliation, and dealing with Fringe Benefit Tax. 

Josh Loy, Account Director at Flare, says “novated leases should be hassle free for both the employer and the employee. Flare’s digital-led process eliminates paperwork, simplifies salary deductions, and ensures a smooth process from the drivers first interaction, to the final day of their lease.”

Phil Mulvey, Business Development Manager at Oncore has been impressed by how simple the process is. “Providing novated leases to our contract workforce, via Flare, has been simple. It is a great addition that complements our current salary packaging services.”

For employees, the most common concern has been how payment transfers occur should they transition to a new contract or employer.

“Should a contractor decide to move on or if their contract comes to an end, they have a few options. They can transfer the novated lease across to their new employer. If their employer chooses not to support the benefit, that is ok, the contractor will make payments directly to the financier or payout the remaining finance, in full. There is a lot of flexibility. The employer also carries no liability, once the employee leaves then the car goes with them,” clarifies Josh.

Driving engagement

With the rise of contracting, attracting and retaining high quality contractors is an important consideration for a lot of businesses that rely on this model. Businesses need to adopt and deploy engagement strategies that appeal to this group. 

“At Oncore, salary packaging is a key pillar of the remuneration strategy for our contractors, and we are seeing a higher take up of novated leases,” says Phil.

To contractors like Neil, offering a novated lease can be a unique way for employers to stand out. “You go where the work is but if there is a choice between an employer that offers novated leasing and benefits to a contractor versus one that does not, that would certainly weigh your choice.” 

“Obviously it is down to the individual and what they value but for me, as someone who has contracted for 20 years and has had limited options to purchase and finance vehicles in the past, there is definitely an advantage to choosing an employer who offers this,” reinforces Neil. 

For forward-thinking employers who want to provide inclusive benefits to attract and retain their contract workforce, novated leasing can offer significant savings and a strong retention hook.

Speak to Flare today to discuss salary packaging and benefits for all employees.

What makes a contractor eligble for a novated lease with Flare?

Full-time, fixed-term contractors with continuity of income. Consistent proof of income for 9+ months.

Financial wellbeing – an often overlooked employee benefit

Financial wellbeing is becoming an increasingly urgent and important conversation for employers who want to hold on to top talent and attract the best. Financial wellness is an often-overlooked opportunity to stand out with your employer brand and offer meaningful support.

With wallets tightening across Australia due to cost-of-living increases, we are feeling the real impact of financial stress. This is compounded by economic uncertainty like property downturns, volatile investment markets, and the continuing impact of Covid.

A recent study found that the number of Australian workers under severe financial stress has doubled since 2020 with rising inflation and interest rates putting nearly 1 million people under severe pressure and another 2 million under moderate stress1

Also uncovered through EY and Flare research, ‘Pay in the New Economy’, seven in ten Australians are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with less than $5,000 in savings, and an inability to meet their financial needs in an emergency.

Financial stress carries over into the workplace

Financial wellbeing is an integral part of holistic wellbeing. It can impact both our mental and physical health. When people are in vulnerable financial positions, financial worries can carry over into their work too, impacting their performance.

Stress can contribute to burnout and consume an employee’s emotional bandwidth, and in doing so means that they aren’t at an optimal capacity to appropriately respond to tasks and contribute to the culture of the workplace.

To cope with financial stress, EY and Flare research showed that one in ten Australian employees have chosen to take time off from work. Moreover, these employees have taken an average of eight days off per year to deal with issues regarding financial stress. 

For employers, there are very real implications to stress in the workplace — directly or indirectly related to work. It is estimated that stress-related issues cost the Australian economy as much as AU$15b per year, with direct costs to employers’ worth approximately AU$10b through absenteeism or presenteeism. 

Financial wellbeing is much more than a salary

Having a comprehensive remuneration strategy or a ‘package’ that includes financial wellness offerings can set your employer brand apart. This encompasses pay, salary packaging, insurances, Superannuation, discount incentives such as perks, mental health support, wellness and lifestyle benefits, and financial support and education. 

There are also innovative new benefits like On-Demand Pay that give employers an edge in providing impactful and immediate relief to employees experiencing financial stress.

On-Demand Pay offers employees control and flexibility over access to their earned pay, without charging interest. It can help reduce reliance on high-cost debt products and offer vital support when delivered as part of a suite of financial wellness benefits.

Offering financial wellness as a pillar of your EVP

EY and Flare research highlights that employees are now demanding greater control over their pay and benefits. 55% report COVID-19 lockdowns have changed what they expect from an employer. 

Given the impact of stress on productivity, engagement, and wellbeing, financial wellness should be a consideration on the wellbeing agenda for any business. 

As financial pressures mount on employees, forward-thinking employers have an opportunity to uniquely position their employer brand in response to attracting and engaging talent.

1 AMP’s 2022 Financial Wellness report

For more tips on how to build a financial wellbeing program, download the Flare guide: How to support your employees financial wellbeing.

How to compete for top talent on pay and benefits

Flare’s own Liz Crawford shares her top tips for SMEs looking to create an attractive pay and benefits package to compete for top talent.

At a glance

  • Employees want increased flexibility, authenticity, workplace wellbeing and a competitive pay package.
  • Remuneration isn’t everything if you’re overspending on an employee who might be the wrong fit.
  • Don’t sell yourself short as a smaller business. You have a lot to offer that larger companies can’t compete with, including offering employees better promotion opportunities and more exposure to business mechanisms.
  • Financial benefits are a great way to save you and your employees’ money, and can also tie into your employee value proposition.
  • A comprehensive benefits package allows you to match benefits to employees’ needs to compete with larger organisations.

Post-COVID-19, employee expectations have changed. Flexibility, which used to be a nice-to-have, is now a must, with some people believing they work more efficiently at home, while others value not having to commute.

There has also been a movement toward workplace wellbeing. While COVID-19 played a part in this shift, wellness had been becoming more significant for the past 10 years.

It’s more important than ever to embrace authenticity and allow people to bring their whole selves to work. That means you need managers who are trained to see people as individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, needs, ways of interacting and preferences for communication.

People want to be compensated fairly, but once that bar is met, they look to other parts of your EVP.

The great job boom

Coupled with these changing needs and wants, we saw the hiring market transform at the tail end of 2021. Competition for candidates translated into higher salary expectations, meaning businesses needed to work out how to respond through hiring practices.

At Flare, our intention is for candidates to feel valued and for employees to be remunerated fairly, and to ensure we’re recruiting and retaining people at the right level. To do that, you need to understand a candidate’s current level of performance and their potential and use both as a lens to look at salary trends.

Ensuring candidates are aligned with your values is also key – and can give you an edge in hiring the right people. We strive for more for both ourselves and our customers, and that is also a core component of our employee value proposition (EVP). Flare employees get the opportunity to work on interesting problems with modern tools and technology, collaborating with smart people who have the same mindset. In other words – we offer development opportunities and meaningful work. 

For many, that’s more important than remuneration – or at least it’s less of a given. People want to be compensated fairly, but that bar can be met by many potential employers (and, as we have seen recently, can be raised within a day). Once that bar is met to their satisfaction, they look to other parts of your EVP, such as the experience they will have every day working with you.

Smart businesses find people who are a great fit for their organisations. For example, because we’re a growing start-up, we look for employees with a growth mindset. You don’t want someone in a role that may not be right for them – that’s a losing proposition for both sides

Competing on growth

There is much to gain from working at a smaller company – and much of it isn’t related to remuneration.

At many start-ups and scale-ups, you get as much responsibility as you can handle. If your employees are up to taking on more, support them in that endeavour and recognise their development. That’s much harder to do at a larger company, where there is often a hierarchy involved in who runs what, and there are several people competing for the next promotion – so in your recruitment and interviews, tell the stories of the people who have learned, developed and grown in your organisation.

Smaller businesses and scale-ups also offer the opportunity to be much closer to all levels of the business – such as senior leadership, other departments, and the overall business strategy.

When you add a comprehensive financial benefits program into the equation, you have a nice EVP offering to compete with larger organisations. 

For example, salary packaging is one of the greatest financial benefits a worker can get, providing employees with tax deductions that could save them thousands each year.

Other financial benefits such as discounts or access to special programs make people feel like they’re getting something extra from working at the business that they couldn’t get otherwise. And those savings often punch above their weight in sentiment – a few dollars here and there off specific purchases) feels like a boon.

I use our discounts to buy Woolworths gift cards, for example – not only do I save a little bit on the weekly grocery shop, but I’m also reminded every week when I shop for my family that we’re getting something a little bit extra from my employer.

We all spend our money differently, of course – I might be concerned about how much I spend at the supermarket, whereas someone else might value a discount of flights for their next holiday, or discounted fitness classes.

Targeting your benefits program

Whether you’re in a large organisation with a team of people working on your benefits program, or a smaller business with a sole HR director who also produces employment contracts and runs payroll, customisation of a benefits program is essential to ensure it matches your EVP.

If one of your EVP components is caring about people by treating them as individuals, providing flexibility and helping them grow, but you have no benefits offering – that’s not telling a cohesive story. 

When you combine a fair salary and a great benefits offering with an authentic expression of who you are as a business and what you can do for your employees, you’re putting your best foot forward in the market.

Learn more about hiring trends, the limits of remuneration and the financial perks that save you and your employees money. Download the ebook: Win the race for talent: How to revolutionise your EVP.

5 tips to run a financial education program in your workplace

Steph Gillon is a former financial adviser and passionate advocate for financial literacy. Steph also heads up Financial Wellbeing at Flare, helping businesses promote financial wellbeing in their workplace. Stephanie shares some of her insights into running a financial literacy program.

Financial stress can contribute to burnout and carry over into the workplace, impacting performance and productivity. To cope with financial stress, EY and Flare research showed that one in ten Australian employees have chosen to take time off from work. Moreover, these employees have taken an average of eight days off per year to deal with issues regarding financial stress. 

Offering financial education as part of your overall wellbeing program is one way that you help to reduce financial stress and its impact on your business. It can also help your Employee Value Proposition stand out by offering tangible value to employees. Here are five ways to get started.

Create awareness

“People have a real fear of being ‘caught out’ when it comes to money. A lot of people will bury their heads in the sand and ignore issues. Creating awareness around the problem, and showing people that they aren’t alone, goes a long way to help normalise conversations about financial stress and money management,” Stephanie points out. 
“We know based on the insights from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamic (HILDA) study, statistically, almost half the population are financially illiterate. Programs should start with the assumption that there is very little financial awareness, and your job is to help build those blocks,” says Stephanie. 
“For those who are experiencing hardship, it’s an excellent idea to provide links to where they can get assistance. That could be a service that you provide like financial counselling through your employee assistance program, or independent third parties. The government offers several free services like the National Debt Helpline,” highlights Stephanie.

Consider the fundamentals

“There will be varying degrees of knowledge and skills around financial concepts. Saving, budgeting, spending behaviours, attitudes to money, goal setting, paying down debt and investing – these topics underpin a sound financial strategy. This is a great place to start,” says Stephanie.
“I like to go deep into these topics. I use quizzes, examples, and case studies to illustrate meaning.
I also provide tips about easy ways to positively change behaviour, like automating savings or tracking how you spend. I break down complex financial concepts into bite-size and easy-to-digest soundbites. I want people to walk away from a session feeling empowered, not inadequate. The content should be relatable, easy-to-grasp, and engaging,” advises Stephanie.

Encourage participation

“Once you have built out a baseline program, think about the perfect way to package that up to your employees. Could you brand this like ‘financial bootcamp’ and build a monthly campaign around it that leverages calendar dates and seasonality? We all know that Christmas is a tight period for a lot of people, so the lead up may be an ideal time to promote budgeting for big events, for example.
What is critical is that you set-up a program of activity or a calendar and make a commitment to providing great content and experiences regularly to engage employees with their financial wellbeing. Otherwise, you risk losing momentum,” explains Stephanie.
“Engaging a remote or dispersed workforce can also prove challenging when you are relying on an email address or an intranet to engage them. They want to access content where and when it suits them. That’s why Flare offers financial education through an app platform. This approach is much more aligned with content consumption patterns these days,” says Stephanie.

Meet needs without compliance risk

“For many employers, providing financial education and support to employees can feel risky due to compliance and privacy concerns. Advice around financial products is highly regulated in Australia and falls into two buckets, general and personal advice. General advice does not consider any personal circumstances and is general in nature. Personal advice is more specific and is tailored to the individual’s personal situation. Both require licences to provide advice,” Stephanie points out.
“The fines imposed on unlicensed financial advice are significant. Financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers or financial counsellors, not by individuals or corporations who neither hold an AFS licence, nor are authorised representatives of an AFS licensee. It can be a criminal offence and result in jail time of up to five years and fines of up to $133.200 for individuals. For corporations the penalties are up to $1.33 million1,” warns Stephanie.

Explore resources available to support you

“Many businesses just don’t have the time, resources or expertise to support a financial education program,” states Stephanie. “If this is the case, there are partners available that you can lean on to help roll out your education. Flare, for example, offers financial wellbeing content through our free Flare app.”
“This helps us to scale education, meaning that we can support reach by making this information easily accessible and in the palm of your employees’ hands, at their convenience. Through this, we address several topics that we know are central to financial wellness, like money mindset and behaviours,” says Stephanie.

This is an excerpt from the Flare guide: How to support your employees’ financial wellbeing. Download a free copy today for more tips on a successful wellbeing program.

4 things to avoid when designing your wellbeing program

Janine Fry, Vice President of Customer experience at Flare, speaks to businesses and HR leaders across the country about their wellbeing programs daily. In her role, Janine helps them successfully implement and launch their benefits and wellbeing offering. She shares some of the most typical problems that are heard from clients as to why programs have failed in the past, as well as tips on what to avoid.

One-dimensional

“Companies need wellbeing programs that address holistic health: physical, mental, financial, and social. In the past, wellbeing programs have been focused on physical wellness like discounted access to gyms and step competitions. While those types of things are still important, it’s now widely acknowledged that programs need to respond to holistic health. Companies that are winning in this space have evolved their view of wellbeing,” says Janine.

Lives and dies on the intranet

“The workforce is becoming more flexible. People want to engage where and when it suits them, so access is key,” says Janine.
“It’s critical that wellbeing programs are engaged with and utilised, regularly. If they are sitting on a static intranet, then they risk going unnoticed and unused. One of the ways we have addressed this at Flare is by creating both a desktop and app experience that connects workers with their benefits anytime, and anywhere. It’s promoted to them during onboarding,” she adds.

Benefits miss the mark

“Offering compelling benefits is one way to differentiate your business with new and existing employees, especially in this competitive wage environment,” Janine points out.
“We think of the employee experience as a journey from start to retain,” says Janine. “Non-wage compensation like perks, salary packaging, and wellbeing support and experiences, alongside mandatory benefits like Super and policies, create a complete offering to employees. We know that this combination is difficult for businesses to execute and manage on their own. There are so many considerations. Flare’s benefits solution helps take the pain out by packaging all these elements together to support businesses to engage their workers with their wellbeing.”

One hit wonder

“One of the most disheartening aspects of a failed wellbeing program is seeing all that hard work not add up to engagement. Influencing up, building a program and communicating it to employees takes effort, time and resources. Sometimes it’s difficult to sustain this investment over a long period. Really, you need that commitment, cultural alignment and advocacy to support the program ongoing,” admits Janine.
“At Flare, we have focussed on removing frictions from delivering and managing wellbeing programs. We offer the benefits, the products, the platform and the engagement program. We also empower businesses to have a level of control over that experience by embedding their wellbeing agenda,” says Janine.

This is an excerpt from our Flare guide: How to design a wellbeing program. Download a free copy today for more tips on a successful wellbeing program.