Mandatory employee engagement reporting is here. It’s time for employers to evidence that they are listening – and acting upon – employee views. Evidencing that employee insight is driving your employee benefit programme represents the perfect inroad. Done properly, it could even provide the foundation for People Experience.— Andrew Woolnough, Director – HR Solutions, Equiniti
People Experience. Often spoken and written about of late. But faced with constant change, a myriad of conflicting priorities, tight budgets and scant resources, it no doubt keeps getting shifted down most corporate to-do lists. Yet it’s probably one of the most important business issues of our time. It should be the guiding principle where your people are concerned, helping improve recruitment, retention, productivity and profitability.
In short, it’s a leadership responsibility. And its success or failure ultimately rests on getting one thing right: ensuring employee voice.
Employee voice represented a central component of Corporate Governance Reform introduced in 2018 and, from this year onwards, a mandatory reporting requirement in all annual accounts for UK incorporated companies with 250+ employees (taking into account full time, part time, fixed term and zero hours contracts).
People Experience and employee voice are inextricably linked. To effect change on one, effects change on the other. What it basically boils down is having good communications and listening skills. It’s really that straightforward.
So, where do you start? You’ve got to drop your pin somewhere. But this is a huge area. People Experience (aka Employee Experience, Employer Value Proposition, Organisational Wellbeing...it’s all the same, even though you’ll be baffled by some into thinking otherwise) requires a shift in mindset of the company, encompassing everything from employee hire to retire, including: onboarding; training and learning experiences; collaboration across organisational boundaries; helping ensure your people have – and take – opportunities to excel; trust in senior leadership; an inclusive environment; a strong customer focus. The list goes on...
To help focus the mind. Let’s consider some of the biggest people issues facing companies at the moment. Acas reports that staff turnover is costing the UK around £4bn a year.
And churn is increasing. It costs about £30,000 per person each time someone leaves. That excludes salary – it can take 5 to 6 months for people to simply become profitable.
Meanwhile, 2 in 5 employees report experiencing poor mental health symptoms related to work in the last year, according to Business in the Community. Over four fifths of employees are “not engaged or actively disengaged at work,” reports Gallup. And a Public Health England guide states that the annual economic costs of sickness absence and presenteeism is estimated to be over £100 billion.
Employee benefits can be used to help ensure improvements across all these areas. Your employee benefits programme has the potential, if you take the trouble to listen to your employees, to help drive a culture of physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing. So, why not start there.
Employee benefits: a more insightful approach
If you throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick. That’s one way of rolling out an employee benefits programme...It’s not the best but, arguably, it’s been the way for the vast majority of companies for many years now, where employee communications are concerned at least.
Consider the evidence. Traditionally, programmes are primarily tailored to the employer’s need: budgets, duty of care and health and safety responsibilities, statutory requirements etc. It’s rare, if ever, that employees are consulted prior to designing such a programme.
Arguably Flex puts that choice firmly back in the hands of employees. But, on the other hand, once a year, one-size-fits-all benefits communications do little to raise awareness, never mind usage and value.
The best way of getting your mud to stick, getting your benefits used and appreciated, is to first understand which benefits are relevant to your people and second, to help them understand what advantages they will bring to them as individuals. What will benefit them in the work they do, the quality of their work life balance and the pride they feel in work.
*This article was written for and features in REBA, January 2020.