Valuable help

Specialist
providers of online rewards schemes are easing the administrative burden on HR
departments. Simon Kent reports

The
complex administration process required by flexible benefits programmes used to
prohibit the adoption of such reward schemes. A growing number of providers,
however, are able to deliver technology solutions to manage fixed and flexible
benefits side by side. These systems take the administration process away from
the HR department and increasingly offer integration with established personnel
systems.

Tailored
packages

One
such provider is VebNet – an Edinburgh-based technology company whose website
can support up to 17 different reward products and gives 24-hour access to users
via the Internet. Chief executive Gerry O’Neill says it gives the employer
complete control over the level of flexible benefits delivered to staff.
"They may offer certain benefits to only 200 employees out of a company of
thousands – the system will support that structure."

EIR
Benefit’s PeopleValue site gives employees "value points" to spend on
benefits. Offering a wide range of lifestyle products at discounted prices, the
site is accessible through a personal password and code. Managing director Mike
Morgan explains that employers reward their employees by buying value points
which are then credited to an employee’s account. "The value point
currency means the reward will be spent on a benefit rather than just being
extra cash added to the bank account," he says. "If an employee buys
something special it’s an effective reminder of the good work they did."

Added
value

Robert
Ratcliffe of mycompanybenefits.co.uk believes that one of the big issues is
that many firms spend a fortune on quality benefits but their staff do not
realise the value of them. "A dedicated website can reinforce for
employees what the benefits are, and even add up their worth on a daily
basis," he says. Ratcliffe adds that the website can act as an effective
administration tool for the HR department, since updated addresses and personal
details can be linked directly to the personnel database.

"Showing
you value an employee means communicating with them on a one-to-one
basis," says Robert Paterson, chairman of Eurobenefits, which offers a
complete hosted benefits service to larger organisations. "In a large
company everything can seem homogenous, so if you can personalise information
around salary and benefits you can motivate each employee individually."

Outside
help

Paterson
argues that the easiest way to deliver such a solution is through the ASP model
whereby an external provider manages the technology platform which brings
together personnel information with the rewards structure and offers
interactivity for each employee. He believes the task of integrating databases
makes the creation of an internal system problematic. Moreover, by keeping the
rewards solution external from company systems events such as mergers and
acquisitions can be managed efficiently from the rewards point of view.

"Benefit
systems such as Eurobenefits’ not only remove a whole workload from the HR
department, but they offer new opportunities in terms of providing information
on recruiting and retention," says Paterson, "The system can show the
popularity of certain benefits and calculate the overall cost to the
organisation of their rewards package."

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