NMG’s Benefit Benchmark Focus Group Event


On 15 February 2018, NMG held a Benefit Benchmarking study focus group event at the Holiday Inn Sandton. The event addressed concerns raised as a result of work done on the NMG Benefit Benchmark survey.

The Benefit Benchmarking survey is still ongoing, and NMG has started to note some trends in the issues businesses are facing and decided to get people to put their heads together to come up with better solutions.

First Session

Linda Kleynscheldt’s Presentation

40 clients from a wide range of industries and employers attended and were reminded of the importance of employee benefits in the context of South Africa. The first session was presented by Linda Kleynscheldt. “Our state-sponsored benefit base is very thin, pushing almost the full provision of benefits and suitable insurance cover onto the shoulders or employers and individuals,” Linda said.

Companies are prompted to cut costs and benefits because of the economic slowdown we are facing. “Add in the escalating costs of providing benefits and the different needs of the various generations making up our workforce, it has become clear that employee benefits need to change to keep up to date. The HR profession is generally seen as the custodian of benefits management and therefore we wanted to hear from them how they would want to tackle the issues identified in our survey,” Linda explained.

Neal Bull’s Presentation

Neal Bull, who is heading up the Benefit Benchmark surveys, shared some of the main results from the survey. Interesting to note, businesses who said they provided benefits to give market-related benefits or to have a competitive edge were generally providing benefits below the average of the surveyed companies. Clearly providing or paying for benefits which are not aligned with strategy. Similarly, a number of businesses stated that the benefits provided are to look after the financial well-being of the employee, yet when providing funds, there is no or too little guidance available to employees when they reach retirement on what to do with their retirement savings. Interestingly, Neal reveals that there is a low number of companies offering employees a pension projection tool and the low use of available tools to track retirement saving.

Survey data indicates only 4% of employees are actively involved in tracking and managing their retirement savings. This is a clear indication that there is room for improvement here and a need for employers to consider how to increase the return on their money spent in providing for the retirement savings vehicles.

Communication came as one of the most important issues in benefits management and strategically positioning in HR. Munene Khoza from Mint Language Consultancy showed the audience simple but effective ways to get the message across. “Clarity and sincerity of the message is key, we often use way too many words to try and get a simple message across.  In most cases, less is more”, said Munene.

Second Session

The focus groups in the second session were the main focus of the event – where everyone put their heads together to try and solve the issues and concerns. “There was quite a buzz in the room as attendees shared, debated, collaborated on the topics posed to them.  We covered the role of HR in setting strategy and also how benefits should be used as a strategic driver. Benefits communication got a lot of attention with multiple approaches and mixing face to face with digital strategies coming out as the best practice,” Linda explained.

NMG believes that HR needs to claim their space when it comes to involvement in corporate transactions and driving strategy. Participants also made a note of getting better equipped to take ownership of the full remuneration field. It also transpired that it would also be beneficial if tools to enable HR practitioners’ access to the full suite of benefits through one portal is developed and the use digital strategies HR space should be mandatory. Although the digital age is here, contact with your benefits consultant and service provider is still seen as paramount in delivering value-adding service to employees.

The event is the result of the work done so far on the NMG Benefit Benchmark survey.  While the survey is still ongoing, we have started to note some trends in the issues companies are facing and decided to get people to put their heads together to come up with better solutions.  Finding a better way to do things.

The feedback on the event was very positive with the HR practitioners enjoying the interaction with their peers from other companies and learning from their experiences.  NMG intends to repeat this type of event in the near future – we hope to see you there.

If you would like to join the next event or participate in the survey, please email your request to benchmark@nmg.co.za

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