See no benefits, hear no benefits, speak no benefits
In a typical benefits programme there is always a hardcore of employees who just do not seem to know what’s good for them.
You’ve provided them with the opportunity to make substantial financial savings through employee discounts, salary sacrifice and the like during the worst economic crisis in living memory and they reward you with complete indifference.
How and why does that happen? Research from employee discounts providers over the past five years shows some pretty consistent results and the naysayers can generally be split into four categories.
1. “There is nothing in this programme for me”
Despite providing thousands of retail offers including all the best-loved and familiar high street names, it seems that these employees are missing something. They’ve made an assumption based on years of offer disappointment perhaps. Their experience to date has been something along the lines of ’20% off but only if there is a Z in the month and a blue moon’. So the onus is on the employer to find an employee discount provider that avoids these kind of offers at all costs – so that employees can have faith that their programme is genuinely saving them money and that it is just as suitable to them as it is to every one of their colleagues.
2. “I had no idea this benefit was available”
Incredible! You’ve worked hard to get this benefit in front of your employees. Don’t they read? Don’t they listen? It’s time to call for reinforcements. Your scheme provider should have a tried-and-tested communications system to hand that acts as a virtual but very visible megaphone to deal with this situation. It should be informative, engaging, consistent and regular. Not only does a system like this deal with this segment of employees but also tackles all the main objections, providing it is designed and delivered properly.
3. “I forgot about it”
I’ll bet they don’t forget to ask you for a pay rise or a promotion… Again, an effective communications programme provides the consistency and platform to remind them about their benefits. Things like ‘double savings’ events – where ten to fifteen high street names provide increased offers on the programme for a limited time – are also a great way to remind employees about featured retailers, the kind of savings they could make and, what’s more, directs them straight to their benefits portal through relevant links in email communications. An event such as this improves engagement and spend levels both at the time and on an ongoing basis.
Employers can help make this even higher by giving prominent messages on the home page of company intranets. For the really pro-active reward and benefits departments out there, you could even encourage employees to keep a benefits diary of family spending occasions (birthdays/anniversaries etc), insurance, utility and mobile phone contract renewals, and so on – your employees will soon wonder how they ever got by without their employee discounts programme!
And for the truly forgetful, a good employee discounts service will have a facility to pay for regular, discounted vouchers or reloadable cards orders – such as 5% off ASDA or Sainsbury’s – by standing order, or by payroll deduction. No memory required!
4. “I don’t know how to use the service”
How difficult can it be? Over 50% of your employees¹ will be completing transactions online every month using sites that are far more complicated. For those employees that do need a bit of help, which is most of us at one time or another, a 364 day Helpdesk at the end of the ‘phone is essential. Friendly people pleased to run through all the offline aspects of the service such as telephone discount offers and discounted shopping vouchers, as well as reset passwords and other things, make using discounts a pleasure not a hassle.
So with the right employee benefits scheme in place and a provider who understands the ins and outs of engagement, you can help your employees see, hear and speak in the language of benefits.
By George Farrow, Client Services Director at Asperity Employee Benefits.
¹The BPS/IMRG Online Access And Shopping Report: April 2010