No longer a ‘tick the box’ add-on to an employment contract, employee benefits are now as diverse and flexible as workplaces themselves. One Kiwi employer moving the needle is Sudima Hotels which has added a game changing digital Wills and Estate Administration offering to its various employee benefits packages.

With employees of all age groups and family circumstances, and a company culture which takes a holistic, wellbeing-focused approach to people inside and outside of work, Sudima Hotels was looking for a partner that was thinking bigger about employee benefits, Director of Talent & Culture Phillipa Gimmillaro says.

“We began working with Footprint over the winter of 2019 to offer a comprehensive Wills and Estate Administration benefit option. For employees this was a bit unexpected, but it is an important issue and fits with our values as an organisation. To help educate our whole workforce about the benefit and how every person can best apply it to their own lives, the Footprint team came in to run a series of Learning Labs at each of our hotels around the country.

“The education piece was crucial – when we dug deeper at the Learning Labs, people came to see clearly how this benefit will help their families in the unfortunate circumstance they are no longer here, and they could take what they learned home to discuss with their loved ones.”

Footprint offers an innovative subscription-based Wills and Estate Administration packaged model, Footprint Connect, designed to help employers increase the financial literacy of their employees, while also protecting their families at a time when having professionals to lean on can mean the most. Footprint Connect makes it easy and affordable to provide an essential benefit that’s digital, accessible and educational.

It is the first provider of a digital subscription of this type, and the focus on Estate Administration is key – the cost of Estate Administration in New Zealand averages around $10,000 if a Will is in place, without one it is estimated to cost fifty percent more and take fifty percent longer to process (which means it could be at least 12-18 months before any benefices get access to what might be much needed funds).

Footprint CEO Angela Vale says, “In discussion with Phillipa and her team, and with other HR leaders, what we are hearing is that there is real shift towards empowering staff and providing employees with benefits that are meaningful to them and their families, which includes improving financial literacy.

“However, what we know through our engagement with Kiwi corporates and market research, is that the education and the protection piece is often missing when it comes to Wills and Estate Administration, and a lot of employees have preconceived ideas that it’s too expensive, hard and time-consuming to do themselves – so when their employer comes in, puts the power in their hands and takes care of the rest, it’s hugely valuable. It leads to great conversations with co-workers and families, which ultimately improves financial literacy across the board with a positive impact on our communities.”

Ms Gimmillaro says an attractive benefit package such as Footprint Connect helps put Sudima Hotels ahead of the pack in the contest for talent. “While it may be commonplace in the finance sector, I’m not aware of any benefit like this in the hotel industry. It’s a real advantage in the attraction and retention of talent, not to mention knowing that we’re doing the right thing for our people.

“As an employer there is a lot of value in working with providers who can speak to our team on important and relevant issues – such as the Footprint Learning Labs – and it has been eye-opening to see people start to unravel what the benefit means to them and how debilitating it can be to families if a Will is not there when it’s needed.

“The value of an Estate Administration package is huge and this is not a conversation people have usually had before because death is not openly discussed in many cultures. It was a bit of a blind spot even for the senior team, such as the timeframe to access a bank account when a partner or spouse dies, and funds are frozen.”

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