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benefitsconnection Insight, strategy and best practice in voluntary benefits from Asperity

Issue no.6 April 2009

Benefits equality: Do you reach all of your workforce?

Reward Gateway in the Savings illustrated – would Eurozone – discounts scheme you like to hand your for employees in Ireland employees £1,000 a year


Welcome

Contents 2. 3. Editorial

How can VB work for employers with a multi-national workforce?

4. It has never been more important to make sure that your voluntary benefits products reach all your staff. Employers in every industry and of all sizes are facing difficult times, and maximising benefits is central to making employees feel valued and helping them to get the most out of their salary.

Apart from economic pressures, employers face a continuing challenge to engage with the whole workforce – benefits really do have a place and play a part in the diversity agenda. So the challenge here is twofold: first, ensure there is something in your VB portfolio for everyone, and then make sure information about benefits reaches each and every member of the workforce.

How do you do this? Content and Comms. Get the right offers and products into your VB mix and then use a variety of ways to get and hold employees’ attention. If you had any doubts about whether employee discounts are worthwhile, a look at the illustrations of savings “Why would you throw away more than £500 every year?” will convince you otherwise.

6. 8. 10. 11.

Why would you throw away more than £500 every year?

Benefits and the Diversity Agenda

Harmonising reward and benefits, for example following a merger or acquisition, across a solely UK-based workforce is a significant challenge for HR professionals; bringing consistency across VB for employees in different countries even more so. Those of you who have grappled with the intricacies of trying to provide a flexible benefits solution across multiple locations will have some insight to the difficulties organisations encounter. In terms of tax efficient benefits, legislation will be the key driver. Salary sacrifice schemes for childcare vouchers clearly won’t translate to different tax regimes. Employee discounts schemes, which have a very long tradition in the UK, offer more scope for achieving commonality but there are still significant hurdles to take into consideration. As we develop Reward Gateway in-house, we have been addressing some of these hurdles over the last year.

FAQs

Training – ‘Benefit’ or ‘Entitlement’?

Visit www.asperity.co.uk for more information, exclusive access to our employer’s VIP website and to request our new Employer’s Information Pack.

Glenn Elliott MD, Asperity Employee Benefits glenn@asperity.co.uk

By Chris Whitcombe, Technical Director, Asperity

Insider Information

We’ve got more insights about benefits and diversity in this issue of Benefits Connection which I hope you will find useful.

Yours sincerely

How can VB work for employers with a multi-national workforce?

All information correct at the time of writing and subject to change without notice. Asperity Employee Benefits Ltd, 90 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5RT. Tel 020 7229 0349 www.asperity.co.uk email: benefits@asperity.co.uk © Asperity Employee Benefits Ltd 2008. All trademarks and registered trademarks and logos are the respected property of their owners.

02 Free, fully functional demo of Reward Gateway for all readers at www.asperity.co.uk

Introducing multi-currency capability into employee discounts.

Capability needs content! The capability to take Euros is one thing – we also need content relevant to the client’s location. For launch sites in Ireland, this meant developing a range of discounts, Cashback and voucher offers which would stand alongside the UK Reward Gateway portfolio. Along with the US, the UK has the longest established tradition of online employee discounts so we really started from first base in sourcing retailers to participate in the Ireland site. The number of offers is lower overall in Ireland than in the UK, reflecting both the smaller population and the fledgling nature of the service, but it is highly credible and initial reports give it a fantastic reception. It is a little early to analyse feedback, but watch this space.

Where next? This is under active consideration. If you have a group of employees overseas that you would really like a discounts scheme for, please let us know. And if you have a workforce based in Ireland, we are good to go!

During 2008, we had a number of requests from clients for a discounts scheme which could be offered to employees based in the Republic of Ireland. This required that we look at how to build the functionality to accept Euros into the Reward Gateway platform. In enabling the acceptance of Euros, it was a small step further to enable the acceptance of other currencies as well, so the capability to have a discounts service which deals in currencies other than sterling is now a reality. While to end-users it may look like a logical and straightforward development, a number of layers were needed to build the site for Euros; it was not just a case of ‘copying and pasting’ the sterling process. As with all modifications to the platform, a spec was written by the business lead to identify what the end result should look like, and this was then discussed at length with our in-house development team. The lead developer on the Euro project then broke the overall task into component parts and set about allocating resources - people, time and testing. When the new functionality was ready for internal business sponsors to look at and test, the development team focused on responding to their feedback and getting RG Euro fit for end-user acceptance testing. As with all development work on a platform where the security of information is the single highest priority, each new feature is pushed and pummelled to ensure it is robust and meets our standards.

Benefits Connection from Asperity

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Why would you throw away more than £500 every year? And that’s just a single person household!

Illustration 2 - Family of 2 Adults and 2 Children under the age of 16, takes 1 family holiday a year. Item

Details of offer

Spend

Saving

Cumulative saving in a year

Food and household goods

4.5% extra free at Sainsbury’s

£150 a week = £7800

£336

£336

Petrol

5% extra free at Asda

£60 a week = £3120

£149

£485

Dog food

5% discount at PetSupermarket

£12 a week = £624

£31

£516

Car

Cashback on RAC Car Insurance

Variable on 2 cars

£80

£596

Home

Cashback from eSure

Variable

£45

£641

5% Cashback from Lastminute.com

£2240

£112

£753

Broadband & Landline

Cashback on Virgin media

Variable

£65

£818

TV

Cashback on joining Sky + HD

Variable

£100

£918

Mobile phone

2 x Cashback on O2 Contracts & 2 x Cashback on O2 Pay and Go phones

Variable

2 x £35 + 2 x 3.50 = £77

£995

New Laptop

Dell XPS 3% Cashback

£549

£17

£1012

Weekly purchases

By Jaspal Channa, Head of Product Services, Asperity

Insurances At Asperity, we’ve been banging the drum about the fantastic savings available by using Reward Gateway on everyday goods and services. The drum is heard – we know that because tens of thousands of employees use our discounts service every month to get those savings, and we know how much they spend and save. We also know that some employees fail to maximise savings for any number of reasons. They forget the service is there, never knew about it in the first place or don’t log on to have a look because they have seen poor schemes in the past and think they are all the same. Or it just goes in the ‘haven’t got round to it’ box. Well, they need to get round to it. There is something for everyone in Reward Gateway’s range of offers, and for most people a number of different ways to save money. These are attractive because the savings are available on regular weekly shopping as well as on ‘annual’ purchases such

as insurance or mobiles. Covering a wide range of retailers and service providers with appeal across age groups, gender, interests, geography and spending preferences, it has never been more pertinent to get the VB message out to your workforce. By way of illustration, we’ve looked at 3 households and added up a realistic total of annual savings. The figures are not based on ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘who on earth would buy that’ purchases – they are on everyday consumer goods and services which employees will be purchasing anyway. Whatever your workforce demographic, however your individual employees like to shop, we’ve got a saving for them.

Note: Savings are for illustration purposes only. All offers correct and available on Reward Gateway at 1st March 2009. Based on projected annual spend. All figures rounded to nearest pound.

Holidays 2 week family holiday outside of the UK Home

Illustration 3 – Household of 2 Adults, takes 1 holiday and 3 weekend breaks per year. Item

Details of offer

Spend

Saving

Cumulative saving in a year

Food and household goods

7.5% extra free at Waitrose or Ocado

£50 a week = £2600

£182

£182

Petrol

5% extra free at Asda

£30 a week = £1560

£75

£257

Wine

9% extra free at Threshers

2 bottles a week @ £5 each

£43

£300

Car

Cashback from HSBC

Variable

£40

£340

Home

Cashback from The Co-operative Insurance

Variable

£30

£370

2 week holiday to Egypt

6% discount at Thomas Cook

£1200

£72

£442

Weekend break to Rome

3.5% Cashback at Expedia

£500

£18

£460

£400

£16

£476

Illustration 1 - one person household, moving home during the year, takes 1 camping holiday and 1 weekend break. Item

Details of offer

Spend

Saving

Cumulative saving in a year

Weekly purchases Food and household goods

7.5% extra free at Waitrose or Ocado

£80 a week = £4160

£290

£290

Petrol

5% extra free at Asda

£30 a week = £1560

£75

£365

Wine

9% Cashback at Majestic Wine

1 bottle a week @ £5 per bottle

£23

£388

Car

Cashback on Sheilas’ Wheels

Variable

£45

£433

Home

Cashback from Cornhill

Variable

£40

£473

Weekly purchases

Insurances

Insurances

Holidays Camping equipment

20% discount at Cotswold outdoors

£500

£100

£573

Weekend break to Rome

4% Cashback with lastminute.com

£500

£20

£593

Broadband

Cashback on Orange USB

£15 a month

£55

£648

TV

Cashback on joining Sky + HD

Variable

£100

£748

Mobile Phone

Cashback on Vodafone Contract

Variable

£90

£838

Holidays

Weekend break to Paris 4% Cashback with lastminute.com

Home

04 Free, fully functional demo of Reward Gateway for all readers at www.asperity.co.uk

Home Broadband

Cashback on BT Broadband

Variable

£50

£526

Mobile phone

2 x Cashback on Orange pay monthly contracts

Variable

£100

£626

New Laptop

Dell XPS 3% Cashback

£549

£17

£643

Furniture

7.5% extra free at John Lewis

£1,500

£112.50

£748

Benefits Connection from Asperity

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Benefits and the Diversity Agenda Helen Craik, Operations Director, Asperity Equal Opportunities. The Diversity Agenda. Work Life Balance. Phrases now so familiar to employers it is hard to avoid treating them, if not with contempt, then as clichés – with the devaluation of impact that a cliché brings. Mix in a bit of benefits-speak, and boredom sets in. Fairness in the workplace means the only factor in determining reward should be contribution. Making sure reward is fairly applied across an organisation is an area of high current interest. A recent employment tribunal decision highlighted just one potential difficulty, by finding that: “An employer’s decision to introduce a flexible benefits scheme … did not constitute direct discrimination under the Age Regulations. This was so notwithstanding the fact that the scheme included a private medical insurance plan with age-related premiums, making the plan more expensive for older employees. ”

VB and Equality of Access With a focus on age discrimination, the Employers Forum on Age describes best practice as “avoiding … stereotyping and making assumptions that people’s behaviour is likely to be dictated by their particular ‘difference’ without checking on the employees’ needs” . VB being employee-paid, with access to the benefit made available by the employer, leaves a conundrum with 3 components: •

the range must be attractive – not all employees will use each benefit but can every employee find something? (the ‘content’ component)

• information on what’s available needs to reach all employees (the ‘communications’ component) • evidence of equality of access and understanding how to improve it (the ‘evidence’ component)

Employers need to identify the different types of groups they want to ensure VB is reaching. VB needs to cut across gender, age, ethnicity, parental responsibility, sexual orientation, religion or belief and other groups identified in law. It also needs to address variations in location, wage levels, field- and office- based workers, ‘head office vs. the rest’, those that are online at work and those that aren’t, and any other organisationspecific factors which, if ignored, would result in a lack of fairness.

“Employers need to identify the different types of groups they want to ensure VB is reaching” Content Some VBs will only be relevant for a certain sector of any population. Minority Interest’ VBs While childcare vouchers (CCV) may only seem useful to a small number of employees, are employers making sure that fathers are pro-actively included in a CCV recruitment drive? Is the assumption of employers and providers that this is a benefit for women who have had maternity leave, as opposed to parents who have children? CCV may disproportionately be taken up by higher rate tax payers using nurseries, and lower wage employees will miss out on savings for holiday schemes or after school clubs. Employers must ensure that those who most need assistance in paying for good childcare are not left out. Cycle to work (CtW) is another VB with minority appeal, but employers need to reach as many of the audience as possible. CtW supports CSR, sustainable transport, and healthy living and, cynically, these are good boxes for companies to tick so including CtW in VB is win-win.

Health products are a minefield, as the earlier quote from Swann highlights, and many employer-paid schemes are under review. If employer-paid PMI is not provided or is restricted, then including full PMI and cashplans in VB passes on the advantage of group-rate premiums and makes the portfolio more inclusive. Everyone needs to shop: do they shop online? Employee discounts is the VB with the potential to benefit most employees; everyone needs to shop. Breadth of offers is key. Phone-based discounts have in many ways been outdone by online offers in the last 2 or 3 years, online adding hundreds of retailers not available offline. Include savings enabled by newer technologies, such as discount shopping for groceries with reloadable cards, and VB comes into its own. Employers do worry about employees who don’t have internet access at work. The UK, with over 40m users, has the most active online population in Europe - highest number of daily visitors (2.18m), use days (21) and time spent (34.4hrs) per month . Shopping is one of the most popular activities. The average time online each day for personal use is 164 minutes, compared to 148 minutes watching TV . People in work are more likely than those not in work to have online access at home, so employers should be reassured that the vast majority of their workforce will have internet access. The internet cuts across age and gender. The young spend more time online, but older workers are replacing DIY and gardening with internet use . Men and women use the internet almost equally. And income is not a predictor of internet use – it might inform which sites users visit but all income groups go online: The value of access to online savings is emphasised by the depth of offers. Many retailers support online offers which they simply won’t allow as a phone offer, a discount code or card to use in the shop. Mobile

06 Free, fully functional demo of Reward Gateway for all readers at www.asperity.co.uk

phones are a particularly good example of this – employee discounts schemes with a credible online portfolio routinely have significant amounts of Cashback which aren’t available any other way.

How the UK internet population is composed by household income

It is less easy to find research correlating engagement with VB to ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion or belief. A good start to getting the content right is not to make assumptions about what employees want - one size doesn’t fit all, so choice and flexibility will engage more people.

Communication It can feel like the effort expended to communicate with employees is in inverse proportion to the perceived result. The most effective form of communication in many companies is ‘the grapevine’ and benefits comms can certainly harvest the power of word-of-mouth. One colleague saying to another ‘I got a cheque for my dental appointment from the cashplan’ is far more powerful than a leaflet saying the same thing. Employers need a return for their investment. When considering benefits and diversity, look at how best to capture people that might not know about, or initially be interested in, VB. Engagement with benefits could significantly add to the reward package and thereby deliver substantial return on investment. Challenging stereotypes A breakdown of the split between men and women taking childcare vouchers is not readily available, but anecdotal evidence and a straw poll suggests that the vast majority are women. Why would that be? It might be a subliminal extrapolation of childcare being ‘a mother’s responsibility’ or employers might not do enough to ensure fathers participate. With more men than women being higher-rate taxpayers, it is likely that some families are missing out on the higher

tax savings a father’s entitlement would bring. Are employers doing enough to make sure employees understand that 2 parents can have childcare vouchers for the same child(ren), doubling the saving? For parents who use childcare on an irregular basis, in the holidays for example, joining a scheme can seem daunting. Talking to parents one-to-one, either at a ‘surgery’ or by phone, enables exploration of whether CCV is right for them. A few minutes out of an employee’s working day and the payback is significant – even if an employee finds the scheme is not right for now. Do different groups need different forms of communication? If you have a PC–using workforce and a vibrant intranet, it’s entirely possible to get fantastic engagement with VB with the right content, frequently refreshed banners, regular competitions and an opt-in email. Anything else could be superfluous. If employees are geographically dispersed, with or without computer facilities, it will take multiple methods of communications, and sustained effort, to achieve the same results.

“If an employee does not access the internet at work, it does not mean they won’t use online VB” Offline comms gets online engagement It’s important not to confuse whether online is the best way to communicate benefits to employees with whether those employees will use VB online – the two are quite distinct. If an employee does not access the internet at work, it does not mean they won’t use online VB. It does mean that a web banner won’t be the best way to get the message out to them. We’ve seen that employers should be confident that their workforce will benefit from discounts made available online, but if you don’t have an intranet, how do you set about reaching them? It requires a framework for reaching the different audiences in the workforce and tailored output.. Working with your benefits provider, you’ll need to consider geography, shift-workers, employees who don’t have English as a first language, and other groups distinct to your organisation. A vodcast

to explain benefits in other languages is straightforward and employers in relevant sectors will see engagement shoot up as a direct result. Employers should ensure that access to, and information about, benefits is widely accessible – for example, is your benefits website W3C compliant, can employees with visual impairments phone instead?

And then there’s the evidence Having carefully considered content and comms and made all this effort to serve the whole employee population, it would be nice to know that it is working, to demonstrate that engagement with benefits is broadly in line with the workforce profile. For VB, this can be done by your provider reporting on key statistics. Registration on Asperity’s Reward Gateway (comprising CCV, CtW, discounts, healthcare options) enables the collection of gender and date of birth, reported anonymised to employers. We can collect any other details required, the most frequent being location –employees use a drop down list to indicate place of work. Taken together, these few details provide a real picture of how VB is performing on many aspects of diversity. ‘Reverse mapping’ completes the picture Mapping engagement against other characteristics such as ethnicity could be done by asking for the information at registration but it edges towards putting employees off, which is clearly not what we want. As an alternative, using a unique identifier (e.g. a payroll number) to validate registration, we can provide a list of the identifiers in use for the employer to reverse-map against existing diversity data. So there we have it. Content, communications, evidence. With a linear workforce, getting all three right in a VB scheme can seem a challenge. For the more diverse workforce then, it can seem almost impossible. In the equal opportunities arena, however, benefits needn’t cause a headache. The right provider will work hard and be resourceful in adapting VB to suit the workforce. Your employees already work hard; don’t make them work harder for their benefits. 1. Swann v GHL Insurance Services UK Ltd. Decision has no precedent value. 2. Beth Vaughan, head of communication writing for HRZone 3 March 2009

3. comScore vie Econsultancy Feb 2009 4. National Office of Statistics Time Use Survey / TNS Online- bus Research February 2006 5. AXA e-blog 2007

Benefits Connection from Asperity

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Insider Information

Jason Taylor, MD of Benefex interviews Sue Kavanagh, a freelance HR consultant with over 20 years’ industry experience, to ask her opinion on HR issues. By Jason Taylor, MD, Benefex

JT: Sue, there is a familiar quote “people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers”. What is your view on this? SK: Somebody told me that when I first joined the business world, and I have to say that if you look at any organisation and what’s happening in that company – even in today’s very difficult market – retaining and recruiting the best people is one of the biggest challenges.

Sue Kavanagh HR Consultant 07973 847402 suekavanagh@ live.co.uk

If you look a bit deeper, organisations should be reviewing what is happening in their business units and what staff turnover is in these operations. Sometimes you’ll find that if you have a poor manager then you will have a high turnover, dissatisfied staff and the resulting problems. So I think the first thing that companies have to review is their managers, and how they train them. They need to address whether they are giving the right support, and if they are recruiting the right people.

JT: What would you say is important for a new team member? SK: Getting the induction right is absolutely crucial. You know what it’s like in business – we’re all so busy, and when the new staff member comes in on day one, the temptation is to throw them in at the deep end to try and take a bit of the pressure off the rest of the team. But if you don’t invest in that initial period, then you’re just wasting your time. The manager has to think about that carefully before the staff

08 Free, fully functional demo of Reward Gateway for all readers at www.asperity.co.uk

member actually joins. So, for example, what support are they going to give them? What kind of induction and training do they need? If you can invest in this initial period for the new staff member, it will pay dividends further down the line.

JT: So where do benefits fit into all of this? SK: Benefits are really important. They attract the person to the organisation in the first place, and they should help to retain them in the business. However, what I have learned through previous experience is that if you don’t tell people and remind them about their benefits on a regular basis, they often forget what they actually have! At my last company, we had people who didn’t even know they were in a pension scheme. When people are looking around the market place and comparing their packages with those offered by the competition, other packages can seem more attractive. This can be because they’ve forgotten they’ve already got benefits such as life assurance, good voluntary benefits and other rewards. So getting your internal communications right

“If you don’t tell people and remind them about their benefits on a regular basis,they often forget that they acctually have“

is absolutely key. Make sure your collateral looks interesting – this helps to make the benefits exciting and more memorable. It need not cost a lot as a great deal of the work can be done internally but it will certainly pay dividends.

“With money tight for many of us, the ability to be able to offer your staff discounts at major high street retailers has to be a winner.” JT: What do you think makes a benefits programme really work? SK: Trying to do something slightly different. Many companies have in their

benefits programmes provision for a pension scheme and life assurance. Perhaps sometimes these aren’t terribly sexy, particularly if you work in an environment where you have a lot of new members of staff or younger members of staff. So what I’ve done in previous roles is to try and introduce something that’s a bit different and a bit fun. I was very lucky as I worked in the travel industry for twenty years, so obviously we had a lot of travel benefits that we were able to pass on to our teams. But I think the most popular benefit I ever introduced was the ‘discounts’ benefit. For very little work from the organization we introduced a huge high-profile PR initiative, both internally and externally. Everybody has to go shopping – some people find it a chore so it helps if they can save a bit of money; but for shopaholics like myself, it was a real attraction! I challenged anyone in my last company to actually beat me in the discounts they could get in the shopping discounts scheme! At the moment, with money tight for many of us, the ability to offer your staff discounts at major high street retailers has to be a winner.

Employee Engagement Benefits • • • • • • • • •

Life insurance PMI Cashplans Childcare vouchers Seasonal ticket loan Cycle to Work Annual bus pass scheme Employee discounts Total Reward Statement

Communication Channels • Email • Posters • Intranet Banner • Payslip informative • Brochure • Team brief • Induction • Welcome letter • Newsletter

Benefits Connection from Asperity

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FAQs

A look at more of the questions employers ask about VB. By Tom Lavery, Head of Business Development, Asperity Clients have always looked to us to deliver clear value in return for their investment in voluntary benefits. They also expect alignment with their brand, communications expertise, a fantastic product portfolio – all adding up to a significant contribution to the benefits and HR strategy. Over the last couple of years, expectations have rightly increased and providers need to respond to that. Essential hygiene factors, such as information security and good governance, have come under greater scrutiny. Employers value how we add substance to the way benefits fit with CSR, including environmental responsibility. In February 2009, Asperity’s Environmental Management System was accredited by BSI to ISO 1400: 2004 standard, confirming our commitment and achievement in this area. A regular feature of Benefits Connection is our FAQ section. In this edition, we’re taking a look at the questions employers ask about the specific offers on Reward Gateway and how these appeal to all sectors of the employee population, supporting the diversity agenda.

Q: What’s the best way to ensure a discounts scheme appeals to all our employees?

ASDA cards, with 5% extra free each time can also be ordered and loaded by phone. We distribute BiTE cards and our Big Instore Savings Card which give a saving at the point of sale. How we do this depends on the organisation’s specific requirements. We need to match employer location with currently participating retailers and undertake retailer recruitment where necessary. Lots of other offers can be accessed by phone and these can be featured in a employee brochure. It’s not just discounts – cycle to work and childcare vouchers can also be managed by a single phone call to our helpdesk.

Q: Is there something for all the different sectors of the employee population? A: We don’t make assumptions about which employees would be interested in which retailers. We provide a huge choice and they decide for themselves. Further to that, our Employee Services team takes requests from employees if they want a particular retailer or service and in most cases we are able to source and list an offer.

A: You need breadth and depth in the range of offers. Breadth means a wide choice of goods and services, covering everyday purchases, annual expenses and all aspects of employees’ purchasing habits. For depth, the saving obtainable on individual offers has to be attractive, although it can take different forms – a straightforward discount, Cashback or extra free, for example.

And we do continually review our portfolio to maintain offers across the full consumer spectrum.

Q: What about employees who don’t have online access at work?

A: At its most straightforward, the answer to this is that everyone shops and therefore everyone can save using Reward Gateway. The range of offers covers every type of consumer – there aren’t any boundaries that will mean some employees are excluded.

A: There’s a number of things to think about in answering this question.

Q: What in particular does VB add to the total employment package that means everyone benefits?

Training – ‘Benefit’ or ‘Entitlement’? Thomas Bloomfield, Business Development Director, Globaltech Solutions Limited Even more than usual, in an economic downturn employers and employees ask themselves “What constitutes an employee benefit?” It doesn’t matter if it is a voluntary, flexible, or core benefit, it’s under scrutiny. Staff training, whether for hard or soft skills, is also under the microscope. Companies seeking to cut costs which may have positioned training as an “entitlement” are now of the view that training is a “benefit” instead. With this trend in mind, more progressive employers have looked at the positive contribution of training and how it enhances the business moving forward. Staff seeking to secure their jobs will be searching for ways to increase their knowledge base making make them more valuable to their current (or, it has to be noted, a future) organisation. Training is often essential for “entry level” jobs and employers can’t avoid the investment of internal resources, but with restraints on headcount, more and more existing employees will need training to handle changing workloads and responsibilities created by changing circumstances.

Why it’s worth fighting for your training budget Training is a fantastic tool for employers in the current uncertain environment. Here’s some of the reasons why: • Employees value training even more than usual and see the benefits of increased knowledge

• Employee loyalty, morale and confidence will increase • It helps companies to stay competitive and adapt to the business environment • Targeted training will mitigate the negative effects of cost cutting Investing in training and benefits signifies a company’s desire to invest in and value its employees’ development, which it will have to do to get increased performance during a downturn.

Survival of the trained Training and non-core benefits look like an easy target but cuts in these areas are demonstrably a false economy. The return of investment on training will be judged by the company evaluating how the training has increased performances of the employee and the business. Budgets will be fine tuned and aligned to efficiencies, and IT training in particular enables staff to get more out of their working day. Specialist courses, such as methodology courses which are designed to focus on business processes or project management software skills, can have particular relevance. Organisations that don’t give up on training will be the new leaders and innovators – or at least the survivors.

• Employees will take on more responsibility or do the same job better for the same costs to the organisation • Employers will be credited with adding value to the careers of employees • High-quality, well-trained employees are needed in difficult times

1. Internet Stats Compendium

Recent research that we undertook with a major retail chain of their shop floor staff, showed that over 83% of these employees had broadband access at home and that 82% of this sector shopped online. This is supported by research by e-Consultancy.com which found that the UK has the most active online population in Europe, with 84% penetration¹. So it is far from being the case that employees at the lower end of the wages spectrum who don’t have online access at work will be excluded from web-based offers. For those that prefer to shop in-store, discounted gift vouchers offer real savings in the high street. These can be ordered online with Reward Gateway but they can also be ordered by phoning our helpdesk, so employees don’t need a pc to benefit. Reloadable

10 Free, fully functional demo of Reward Gateway for all readers at www.asperity.co.uk

Benefits Connection from Asperity

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Your employees in Dublin don’t need the luck of the Irish...

...when they have www.rewardgateway.ie

Check out our multi-currency functionality. Asperity still leading employee benefits!

Asperity’s Reward Gateway is the market leader in integrated voluntary benefits. For full details, call Tom Lavery on 020 7229 0349 or email tom@asperity.co.uk


Benefits Connection: Issue 6, April 2009