Nathan Wiggett

Nathan Wiggett

Client Engagement Consultant

Within just a few short weeks of 2020, the working world changed drastically. Before Covid, we were socialising in the office, now virtual meetings and online messaging lead as the primary means of communicating with employees in the business. These digital habits are sure to continue even after the pandemic and lockdown measures are lifted. A recent study by Halifax found as many as one in three employees are planning to continue working from home after coronavirus restrictions end. So how can companies take advantage of the technology out there to improve engagement and retain an attractive package to offer their staff?

A means of communication

Even before the outbreak, many of us were glued to our phones or electronic devices, taking in the luxury that wasn’t an option to us 20 years ago. In recent years, this luxury has become a necessity, and in the past few months these devices have been the essential means of communication with friends, family, and colleagues. It’s clear that technology is officially ingrained in all employees’ habits:

  • In the UK, 80% of the population currently use their mobile phone to browse the internet. In other countries this is even higher. The UAE, for example, sits at 96%.
  • Smart devices now account for 73% of all internet consumption.
  • 8 in 10 email users exclusively access their email via mobile device.

Clearly technology is prevailing; it’s convenient, fast and easy to use, and it’s utilised by the majority. This leaves room for organisations to adapt and exploit technology platforms to engage with workers. Through the right platform, an HR team can offer and communicate their benefits, host discount and cashback schemes and allow employees easy viewing of their payslips.

Offering online education schemes

With universities closed for the foreseeable future, online learning is looking more appealing to those who beforehand would’ve been happy to attend a weekly lecture. Shortly after lockdown measures were introduced, adverts for online learning course websites such as Skillshare and Masterclass were in abundance. Online teaching and educational tools have been made readily available for students and teachers alike, including virtual classrooms, resources for parents and e-learning courses.

Rebecca Smith, Principal Teaching Fellow in English and Creative Writing at the University of Southampton states how important it has become for employees to offer educational courses through work;

"I'm involved in Southampton University's Jane Austen MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). It's been immensely popular - having talks by lots of different experts and interesting locations for the filming has worked really well. The most important thing is ensuring that participants don't get bored and give up and that they feel that they are learning something new and getting something valuable."

Recognition

How can peers instantly acknowledge a fellow colleague for impressive contribution to the company, going above and beyond what is expected from them? Recognition technology! Allowing employees to thank each other from their own home working space using a slick and accessible app will hugely improve their engagement. Data from the Office of National Statistics show that, as of mid-September, 64% of all employees in the UK are working from home. Reaching out to these people, making sure no one feels isolated, will motivate employees to continue doing a good job.

When talking about recognition technology, Emma Urlic, HRSC & Reward Manager at iPSL, had this to say;

“There’s no hierarchy as we don’t want to isolate anyone who feels like they need a manager’s permission to give a recognition. As a business, we wanted to make sure that people can receive that instant gratification to maximise the recognition’s impact. [Mobile technology] was essential in this because it meant that everyone could log in, there and then, from their laptop or phone, and say an instant thank you. It’s so simple”

Engagement with iPSL employees increased by 33% after the UK officially went into lockdown. The team found the easiest and most fun way to say, ‘thank you’, was through their recognition platform.

Wellbeing

Recent studies have found that less than 20% of companies are aware of where to go to when looking for wellbeing support for their employees, and understandably so as the market is saturated with products. Never has there been such demand for organisations to provide wellbeing schemes to their workforce.

Research by Opinium has found that a third of employees now working from home say they are struggling with their mental health. Two in five employees say they feel isolated, and a third are worried about the long-term impact forced working from home will have on them. Fortunately, this is where a flexible platform can help.

Promotion for all kinds of wellbeing can be driven through a platform. Access to healthy eating plans and tips on how to exercise from home will nurture the physical wellbeing. During a fiscally difficult time for some, financial wellbeing needs to be catered for as well. Being able to provide a salary sacrifice loan scheme (with the correct financial guidance and accompanying education) is one of many options of giving financial peace of mind to staff.

Providing an affordable option for some not so affordable gifts

Customer data is a great indicator to how people are spending their money, and how this has changed since lockdown. By looking at this data, you can estimate where the trends will go and how money is spent by customers in the future.

Spurred on by the increased numbers of home workers, sales of customer electronics are up. Whether people are buying equipment to assist with home working or to facilitate a life where going to the cinema, or out to see friends, is restricted, there has been a significant increase in the purchase of expensive electric goods. In the UK, Dixons Carphone have seen their online sales increase by 72%. The US has seen sales of webcams rocket by 500%, and an almost 400% increase in the sales of computer monitors and software. In France, printers and consumable sales have increased by more than 1,000% and in Korea, tablet sales have doubled.

By hosting a salary sacrifice scheme on a benefits platform, companies give the option for employees to purchase these goods at a discounted rate, as they’ll be saving money on through national insurance savings. Through schemes like these, an attractive amount of money can be saved - a new TV that would’ve cost £1,000 will now only cost circa £875, saving the employee £125.

We know that 2020 has been a difficult year for so many of our people. If we can make just a few small changes to their everyday experiences with our organisations that will help save them money, take care of their wellbeing, or improve their connection with their colleagues, it will definitely pay dividends in the long-term.

Where should you focus your employee benefits investment? Listen in to our webinar with Lockton Employee Benefits to see what you'll need to do in 2021 to deliver a cost-effective, impactful benefits scheme. Listen now
Nathan Wiggett

Nathan Wiggett

Client Engagement Consultant

Nathan is a Client Engagement Consultant at Benefex.