Philips – Making benefits flexible for employees

Employees at Philips can choose their benefits as per their needs and requirements.

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The HR policies in organisations are undergoing change in keeping with the changing dynamics of the modern workplace. Recently, Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce company introduced a programme called ‘FlexBen’ 2019, where employees have the freedom to choose their benefits according to their needs and requirements.

Philips India has also introduced a policy on the same lines. The ‘MyBenefits@Philips’ programme aims to provide flexible benefits (insurance and non-insurance) according to the employees’ needs.

“Philips has existed for more than 80 years. The demographics of our employees are ever changing. Around 65 per cent of our workforce comprises millennials. With these changing numbers, we began questioning our age-old policies. Were they catering to the needs of today’s workforce?” says Armaan Seth, head, human resources, Indian Subcontinent, Philips.

After speaking to 1000 employees in the organisation through internal surveys and focused group discussions, the Company came up with the ‘MyBenefits@Philips’ initiative to make benefits more flexible as per the needs of the employees.

Analysing the responses of the staff, the Company decided to flex some of the insurance benefits, such as medical, accidental and education. However, some benefits remain fixed as they are constant throughout the lifecycle of an employee, such as birthday gifts, marriage gifts and leaves. The health and lifestyle benefits are also flexile.

The Company has segmented its workforce into three major categories on the basis of age—less than 30, between 30 and 45, and 50 and beyond.

“The needs and requirements of employees change over their lifecycle. Through MyBenefits@Philips we tried to understand the different needs of an employee at different stages of life and cater to their specific requirements,” mentions Seth.

Analyses of employee needs revealed that those below 30 and single wanted to invest more in their learning and development, lifestyle and parental insurance cover. The married employees with kids were more interested in increasing the insurance cover for their spouse and parents. They were more focussed on achieving work-life balance and wished to begin investing in their retirement plans.

Employees who were 45 and beyond wished to see an increase in children’s education cover, life cover and medical cover.

The family insurance also covers the in-laws of employees in addition to their immediate family members.

Armaan Seth

“The needs and requirements of employees change over their lifecycle. Through MyBenefits@Philips we tried to understand the different needs of an employee at different stages of life and cater to their specific requirements”

The MyBenefits@Philips initiative works on a points-based selection procedure. The employees are given certain points which they can redeem for their flexible benefits.

The distribution of points to the employees is done on the basis of the organisation’s spending on fixed benefits. Suppose the organisation spends Rs 100 on the fixed benefits, the employees will be given the same in the form of 100 points, and then the employees enjoy the flexibility to spend these points as per their individual needs, on a yearly basis.

“An employee is free to invest all the points in lifestyle, if that is what she/he chooses to do. The Company will still provide insurance cover benefits to some extent,” shares Seth.

Employees can also put in extra money from their own pockets in addition to their points. If an employee wants to go for a huge life cover policy of around one crore, the individual can use the points and pour in extra money from her/his salary and still get a cheap deal from the market.

“It was a bit difficult to convince the stakeholders internally for this big shift from a fixed benefits to a flexible benefits plan, but I think it is a business imperative. Also, it will enhance employee engagement and build a better relationship with the employees,” shares Seth.

Apart from this, Philips also ran a diversity and inclusion campaign called ‘REAP’ (respect, empower, acknowledge and preserve) which was launched this year on International Women’s day. Under this programme, several activities were introduced to support gender diversity.

There were women-mentoring programmes on leadership qualities, to enhance women’s business acumen and provide them career guidance.

Workshops were also held for the mangers to remove biases to support diversity and inclusion through interactive sessions and role plays. It focused on removing gender bias and generation bias.

The organisation also ran a programme called ‘He for She’ where male employees came forward to share stories highlighting how they took a back seat to support their partners in their professional lives. This was pretty similar to what happened in Reckitt Benckiser’s #HeDaresSheDares challenge campaign, where employees from across the world posted videos on various social-media platforms. These videos told stories of how they supported women employees in their professional journey.

Seth shares that there has been a very positive outcome of such campaigns. In terms of numbers, the retention rate in women has increased. The number of women in the workforce has gone up significantly, especially in the commercial side of the business—from nine percent to 20 per cent.

“Diversity and inclusion are about starting a conversation. It is not just about gender diversity , but can also be about people coming from different regions and parts of this country and working in a team together,” shares Seth.

Not many companies in the industry, or for that matter in the business world, have such flexible policies to support a diverse culture in their organisations. It is heartening to see companies thinking out-of-the-box to initiate such programmes and introduce such innovative solutions to personalise the policies and benefits for their staff.

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