Employer Talk with McGraw-Hill
McGraw-Hill have a long-standing and wide-ranging flex benefits package in place for their employees. Last year, the group decided to add a voluntary benefits element to their benefits offering and introduced Offers First, an employee discounts scheme which co-exists as an employer-paid benefits alongside the wider employee-paid flex benefits available.
Launched towards the end of 2009 to 1300 employees, the Offers First discounts package has attracted over a third of the workforce to register with the scheme provided by Asperity.
Here, Asperity’s George Farrow chats to Sarah MacKenzie, McGraw-Hill’s Corporate Director of Human Resources, about managing employee confidence in an uncertain environment and how important it is to select a benefits provider that understands and can adapt to your business. In a time-poor environment ease of administration is high on Sarah’s list, as is delivering increased ROI for her company.
What are the current issues affecting HR at McGraw-Hill at the moment, and the challenges you’re facing?
In the present economic climate, we have to make our staff feel as secure as possible. Something that we can do, certainly through voluntary and flexible benefits, is try and do what we can for our employees – to engage them, create loyalty and retain our talent.
How does that impact on your choice of benefits provider?
There are two ways of looking at it. One in terms of how easy it is for us from the back end to operate, monitor and manage, and the other in terms of what it’s bringing to our employees’ lives.
So essentially you’re looking for something where the employee doesn’t have to change their existing behaviour?
Yes, that’s critical to us. We can’t change their buying pattern, and nor is that our objective. Our objective as an employer is to provide our employees with something that they see as value that the company is giving to them. So it’s important that the discounts are relevant to their lifestyle, so we can enhance the way they live instead of change it.
How important is the account manager in the provision of a benefits service?
Different styles of communication fit different parts of the business. So it’s very important that the account manager recognizes this and understands that what might be appropriate for one segment might not be appropriate for another. An understanding of our business is an essential part of working effectively with a provider.
Does the provider’s innovativeness matter to you in the selection process? i.e. choosing a provider capable of bringing in new ideas and working with you to solve problems and seize opportunities?
Definitely. Seeing new things come up all the time is important to us, to keep our employees interested in the scheme.
Is the level of trust in your provider important to you? The sense that your provider delivers what it says on the tin?
As a buyer of benefits, I think that can be a real source of frustration – where you believe you’ve got something, and you’ve got an expectation that then isn’t met. It makes a real difference with a provider delivers on what it has promised.