MANAMA: Nexus Group, one of the region's largest independent insurance brokers, is actively making businesses across the Middle East aware that poor employee benefits programmes can hurt the bottom line and jeopardise workforce retention.
According to Nexus Group head of employee benefits Duncan Crerar, it is crucial that business leaders in the region offer clearly defined employee benefits if they are to stand out in a competitive marketplace.
This is particularly important when it comes to attracting expats, who are growing increasingly concerned about the absence of substantive social security frameworks.
"A common mistake made by Middle East-based businesses is to bundle all manner of benefits into a single lump sum wage," he said.
"Strictly speaking, this does not qualify as a benefit. For example, housing allowance that gets swallowed up with the rest of your outgoings is not the same thing as a company-provided house."
Another common misconception is that underwriting employee benefits is an unnecessary burden on the bottom line.
Mr Crerar disputes this, noting that employers can expect to incur costs of between six and 18 months of an individual's salary should they need to be replaced - largely due to the time and effort it takes to recruit, reintegrate and retrain.
"The best way to avoid financial headaches associated with replacing employees and preventing them from joining your competitors is to keep them happy and loyal," Mr Crerar said.
"This is where employee benefits come in, boosting employee welfare, ticking those all-important corporate social responsibility boxes, as well as acting as a hugely prominent incentive for attracting talented recruits."
A robust set of employee benefits will also help businesses adhere to or pre-empt legislation and emerging industry standards.
Notable employee benefits include private medical cover, life insurance, pension funding and income replacements for short-term and long-term disabilities.
Group affinity and discount schemes can also have a big impact. This entails granting service-providers access to a targeted audience for volume business and results in valuable discounts for staff. Good examples include car insurance, travel insurance and gym memberships.
Determined to set an example across the Middle East in this important area, Nexus Group recently enhanced its employee benefits offering, recruiting leading experts to provide an in-house, independent consultancy service that stands out for industry-best practice, project-based structure and processes as well as long-term value.