Alongside this dramatic increase in employee expectations, HR technologies have also advanced over the past few years. Areas such as online employee benefits platforms, online rewards (discounted cinema tickets, or e-gift vouchers, for example) and bespoke portals for managing a companys I&R offering have all flourished, largely due to the benefits they provide for employers and employees alike.
However, despite the advantages that these solutions can offer, many companies and SMEs in particular are still failing to take advantage of these 21st century solutions.
HR budgets obviously need to be closely monitored within any business, but this is especially true for SMEs. Everything from individual training budgets to the cost of covering annual leave, as well as other employee benefits such as childcare vouchers and health insurance all need to be considered very carefully.
However, employee benefits do not end there. A modern HR strategy must consider dedicated funds for incentive, recognition and reward programmes as well. The good news is that affordable technology is now making programmes like these more accessible for businesses of any size. As such, SMEs no longer need to be intimidated by the cost involved with company-wide incentive schemes, many of which now use apps, websites or intranets to keep employees connected and engaged.
These digitally powered benefits and incentive schemes are a simple solution to the agile requirements of an SME. These products can serve as many employees as needed, with many providers selling a fixed-rate offering as opposed to pay-per-user, which suits businesses on the path to expansion. Equally, should an SME need to respond to a reduction in staff size, the schemes can be easily scaled down.
Demonstrating ROI for an investment in HR has been notoriously difficult for SMEs, which means that justifying an HR budget can often be a challenge. However, the fact that todays incentive and rewards programmes are computer or app based makes it easy for businesses to monitor the uptake of different schemes.
Managers can take advantage of this technology to see which employee benefits are working well amongst the workforce, which schemes staff are utilising most frequently, and how this varies across different demographics. Accurately analysing and regularly monitoring this kind of feedback will give managers and HR a clear picture of what a companys future benefits package should consist of to keep staff engaged and motivated.
Know your workforce
Appealing to millennials and future generations is essential for business longevity. However, acknowledging the preferences of long-standing members of staff is also crucial. Using tech-based employee benefits may appeal to tech savvy employees that are familiar to smart phones and an online-life , but others must be considered too. Offering training on this technology will therefore be vital for ensuring that all staff are not only skilled at using these tools, but also excited by them.
Providing a benefits scheme which goes above and beyond shows how much a company values its employees, which will obviously help with retention. By embracing technology-based benefits schemes, SMEs can increase loyalty amongst staff in the same way that larger corporations have done for years without breaking the bank.
Jamie Mackenzie is director of marketing at Sodexo.
Governments play an important role in providing a safety net for those who are unable to work, and in deciding what benefits and income support people are entitled to. It has been revealed, however, that Britain is one of the most frugal countries in terms of benefits.