CIPHR webinar: how employee benefits technology saves money and improves engagement in just a few simple steps

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Cathryn: Hello and welcome to today’s webinar “Benefits Technology Made Easy.” I’m Cathryn Newbery, and I’m CIPHR’s Content Marketing Editor. With me today is Andrew Drake, the Employee Benefits Specialist Head at PES. Welcome, Andrew. It’s great to have you with us today.

Andrew: Good morning, everybody. I look forward to sharing this webinar with Lizzie and Cathryn today.

Cathryn: And we’re also joined by Lizzie Mounty, HR business partner at M+W Group, which is an engineering and construction firm. Welcome, Lizzie.

Lizzie: Thank you. Good morning, everyone.

Cathryn: If you don’t know CIPHR, we’re a leading UK developer of HR recruitment and learning software that helps organisations to attract, engage, and retain their workforces more effectively. Our solutions cover the entire employee lifecycle from attraction and recruitment, through to engagement, development, management, reward, and retention. If you’d like to find out more about CIPHR solutions, you can opt in to hear from us via the survey at the end of the webinar or email us via the address on your screen now. PES is one of our strategic CIPHR connect partners. It specializes in Employee Benefits technology and health and wellbeing expertise.

Today, Andrew and Lizzie will be sharing the advantages of using Employee Benefits technology such as Happy People from PES, and how simple it is to go digital with your benefits. This webinar should last around 45 minutes, with about 30 minutes from us and then time at the end to answer your questions. Do send in your questions, comments and queries during the broadcast at any time, you should see a small control panel on your screen, just hit the orange arrow button, type in the messaging window. If you miss anything or have to leave the broadcast at any time, don’t worry.

Everyone who has registered will receive a link shortly after this broadcast ends to an on-demand version, you can watch at anytime or share with your colleagues if you think they’ll be interested. Before I hand over to Andrew and Lizzie, we’re going to kick off today’s broadcast with a quick poll to find out more about you, our audience. So, our first poll today is how much time do you and your team spend on Benefits Administration each week? Just choose one option from the following, less than 2 hours, 2 to 5 hours, 5 to 10 hours, or more than 10 hours. And Andrew, in your experience, how much time do you find HR teams are spending on Benefits Administration every week?

Andrew: So, it will depend I guess obviously on the size of the business generally and can be largely dictated by the number of new joiners that a business will get on a weekly or a monthly basis. So we’ll see, the more new joiners that you might have that will normally dictate the amount of benefits admin that goes on at regular periods. But then also, the number of benefits might drive the amount of activity that goes on around renewal time. So, I’d say, my guess is going to be that it will be between 5 and 10 hours might be the most popular, given the nature of a lot of the companies with us today.

Cathryn: Okay, thanks for that Andrew. And actually, we’re going to…our audience has contradicted you today, 57% say less than 2 hours a week. And 26% say between 2 and 5 hours. And just 6% have gone for between five and 10 hours. A little bit surprising?

Andrew: It was. Just forget everything I said in the last minute or so. We’ll go with the poll. I think what’s interesting actually is hopefully what will come out, particularly, when Lizzie shares a lot of her insight, which I think will be really valuable for a lot of people, is that there is so much stuff that goes on around benefits that perhaps doesn’t always jump to people’s minds around administration. So hopefully, by the end of the session today, people might understand exactly what Lizzie has been through and some of the impacts on administration that they felt both pre and post technology. And whether or not that number’s still the same and it may well be. But hopefully, like I said, the insight from Lizzie will be really useful for people to help with that.

Cathryn: Okay, brilliant.

Andrew: Well, thank you very much to Cathryn. So, I’m just going to take a moment or two for people just with a bit of background that a bit of context for you. This diagram here people may or may not be familiar with, but it’s something that I’ve come across through my studies and find incredibly useful. And I think what it really does is I think a lot of the people on the session today will probably agree or certainly come from the viewpoint that actually, if you have great employee satisfaction, which then drives great retention, then that will only have positive impacts on your business. And that will drive things like your customer satisfaction and everything else.

What I liked particularly about this model, obviously, as you can see over towards the right hand side is it also tries to drive the link to profitability. So, I’m just going to expand on this for a moment or two. Richard Branson, I’m sure many people will be aware, is quite a voice on LinkedIn that promotes the need to keep your people happy, who in turn will keep your clients happy. So, I just want to focus in on the three areas there that I’ve highlighted. We’re going to talk a lot today about moving benefits online and using technology to do it. And I think if you go back probably 10 years or so, lots of companies, businesses were looking at what was then known as flexible benefit schemes and provisions.

And they were seen as, you know, just the big thing about offering that flex, and it was all about moving the dials up and down to really tailor something. But it was quite exclusive in terms of the number of companies that were actually adopting it. Then what we’ve seen over the last few years is much more of a shift to just doing things online, so much more about flexibility and choice for people rather than the full on kind of flex schemes that people might be familiar with about 10 years ago. But now, I believe we’re moving into a world where [inaudible 00:05:30] this, you know, in 2019, what we’re seeing is that actually doing things online, again, digital is just the norm.

This is no longer the exception or the way to do things for the bigger companies that have perhaps got deeper pockets. This is just the way we do it. And actually, what we find is offline processes are incredibly clunky, they’re hugely inefficient. And what they really do is they lead to a terrible experience for everybody in a business. And by everybody, we talk a lot about the employee experience. But I’m also referring to the HR experience because, of course, hopefully this will help shed light on the fact that the HR experience has some of those benefits when it’s offline and clunky.

It’s not particularly nice either. And the third box of the employee productivity is something to really focus on because some research that we came across recently said that 70% of businesses still weren’t using the kind of technology available to them to make life better, which is an incredible amount of businesses across the UK. And all that’s doing is just making lots of paper forms, errors, duplication of effort, lots of frustration for everybody concerned, which is just a really poor way for many businesses to be going. And there’s so much stuff in the news at the moment about Great Britain’s productivity, about how we’re behind the West and Europe.

And yet still, many of us are adopting the kind of offline clunky and not so nice processes that can exist. And, of course, if we can improve all of that, the intention is that we can improve the profitability of the business, which ultimately is what we’re all trying to do, hopefully, is to drive better performance better, better profitability of the businesses that we work in. And it’s a big area for me personally, where trying to link that productivity of people across the business to try and drive better revenue for better business performance and better profitability of the organisations that we work in.

Cathryn: Thanks, Andrew, for that great overview into the use of technology. And obviously, CIPHR is a big advocate of using technology to make those day-to-day processes hassle free and as streamlined as possible. So that’s why we have a nice synergy between CIPHR and PES. It’s time for our second poll now, and what has stopped you implementing Employee Benefits technology in the past? And check all the options here that are valid for you, you already have it, you’ve never really considered it, you struggled to find the time, you haven’t been able to secure a budget, or perhaps there’s another reason that stopped you from opting for technology. If so please, just send in a little comment using the question box. And Andrew, what do you find in your experience are the most common reasons why HR and reward teams haven’t really either thought about doing switching to benefit technology or just haven’t actually managed to complete a project?

Andrew: Well, given my performance on the last poll, I am a little bit nervous about answering now, of course, I think what I come across more often is the budget always seems to be a challenge. So, getting the budget holders within the business to sign off on releasing that budget to spend it on technology implementation. And time. I think we’re going to see a real thing between struggling to find the time and securing the budget because the HR professionals that I talk to on a regular basis, time is a big thing. And it’s a bit kind of catch 22 because, of course, adopting technology would free up the time, but it’s finding the time to actually implement the technology in the first place, so if my…Based on experience recently, over the last few months, I would say that the struggling to find the time and securing the budget would probably be the most popular ones.

Cathryn: Okay, well, I’m happy to report Andrew that your predictions have been spot on this time. So great job, 71% of you say you haven’t been able to find the budget, 30% of you say you’re struggling to find the time and I think that vicious cycle that you’re talking about, Andrew, is really common when it comes to technology projects. How do you fit this in on top of the day job as well? And 22% of you say that you haven’t really considered using Benefits Technology. And we had a comment in from Michael, who says one of the challenges he’s faced is not only that it was too expensive, but also that it couldn’t be tailored to what they actually needed for that to meet their requirements. So, a nice interesting mix of reasons why people haven’t opted in for Benefits Technology in the past. And with that, I’m just going to hand over to Lizzie now who’s going to talk about her experience implementing and PES’s technology at M+W Group.

Lizzie: Thanks, Cathryn. And that was interesting results from the pole, I thought. And something that I wasn’t particularly surprised by. And it probably does resonate quite well with the experience we had. And hopefully as I get through, it will become a little bit clearer how we were able to get over that budget hurdle. And I’ll explain in our experience [inaudible 00:10:27] end up costing as much as we actually saved. So, and just before I talk about life before technology, and I thought I’d just give you a really quick background of the business I work for. And so, you can see two logos on the screen, Exyte and M+W.

So, I just thought I’d explain that a little bit. And they, to give you a little bit background and context. The M+W Group is a global construction and engineering group, comprising different types of businesses. So, the core business activities that land under the name Exyte, so back sectors such as life-sciences data centers, and about technology facilities. And then we’ve also got M+W companies as well, which are largely around energy sectors. That just explains the two logos around the company. So, when I first joined M+W group, thinking back to 2015, I worked as an HR administrator, but I very much lived the benefits admin as well as all the other admin, and bits and pieces, that we have in the department. We had a very small HR team and we were a rapidly growing business as well.

So, we just won a lot of new projects in the UK. And we really had to ramp up, hiring anywhere between sor of 6 and 10 people a week. So, the admin side of things was really quite heavy. And we were looking for any sort of efficiencies that we could find and whether it be around benefits or anything else within the department. But that seems a really good place to start, particularly when you’re trying to engage a new workforce. So, we had two different very types, two very different businesses in the UK. And we had a manufacturing business and called Hargreaves. And then we had a largely M+W business, which was an engineering procurement construction partner, which was a select project management and main contractor on site.

They’re two very different workforces with different requirements. And I’ll come on to the challenges that that presented later. And so thinking back, you know, every time we had a new starter, we were very much having to send out the onboarding paperwork, we’d get it back, we’d input everything into a system, or four, depending on how many different benefits they selected. You know, the benefits admin could take up to an hour per person. That really does depend on how many benefits you have as a company, of course. We are actually very fortunate that we did have a lot of employee benefits that wasn’t so easy on the HR function. But obviously, that’s great for employees.

So, because the [inaudible 00:12:48] growth was resulting in so much admin, we very quickly started looking at the options of what technology we could use. And we quite quickly found there’s quite a few providers out there. But it is really about finding the one that fits you best. So, we were looking for something particularly that would integrate payroll and benefits, and to really streamline that process and really take HR admin out of the mix. And although it was great to have an overview, and we really wanted something that would work where there was a flow of data, and where we weren’t needing to put a lot of data entry and you know, work where there was minimal errors, and really making the process very efficient.

At the time, also, before technology P11Ds, we were actually quite a challenge to gather all the data to get them as accurate as possible and get them done as quickly as possible. And so that was another driver that we really wanted to have that and streamlined as well. So, employees would join at induction. And as I said, we were finding they really rarely reviewed their benefits. So, you know, they may have had life changes and really the benefits would have been appropriate to maybe alter. And they maybe need to add some new family members on, or just make some changes. And we really weren’t seeing a lot of engagement with the employees with their benefits.

And I don’t think they appreciated the value either that the benefit actually gave them because it wasn’t visible to them. It was kind of tucked away in the HR department and it was just really there for when they have some questions or when they needed to use them. So why engage technology? And so really, it was around getting the employees to be more engaged and finding HR efficiencies. We were also finding that because the benefits were going through HR, and very much employees could only engage with their benefits between hours of nine and five, and as we all know the world is as much less nine to five now and people like to have time in their own in their own space.

And, you know, to really review what’s best for them. So, we were finding that it would be better for the employees to be able to really access the benefits when they’re at home and make those choices, to set up that’s a good time that technology can come in. In terms of engaging technology, you’ll see on the final slide. And that the employees were able to get their [inaudible 00:15:06] award package. And if they were on the technology, which was really I think it was quite surprising for them to really see how many benefits they had and the value and what the company was actually investing in them over and above their salary. We also found that when you gain technology, you get a greater understanding of the reporting.

And, you know, you can really provide more management information about how much people are engaging with it. And you can see what sorts of benefits people are valuing and what they’re really taking up and what maybe isn’t as appropriate for people. And you can look across your whole workforce and see if there’s any trends that maybe coordinate if you have an aging workforce, are things more appropriate around will writing benefit, or, you know, a younger workforce, is there anything that’s more appropriate?

So, you can just kind of see trends and really adapt what you offer based on that. So, putting our business case forward was actually quite easy. We did a management demo. We displayed the savings against the implementation costs. So and just coming back to the poll earlier, one way that we really got around the implementation costs and really sold it to our budget holders was that we introduced a salary sacrifice pension scheme that previously we had a pension scheme, it was a net deduction, and by introducing salary sacrifice, and this really depends on the earnings of your workforce, but we absolutely were able to absorb the implementation costs in the first year by almost more than double. So, it’s something to consider if you don’t currently have a salary sacrifice pension scheme or other salary sacrifice benefits. And because of the employer NI savings, which actually can be very significant.

And we also were able to add with some of the savings, but also just learning from the technology what was available. We were able to add some new benefits, at very little cost. A lot of them were around wellbeing. So, there was a lot of benefits like [inaudible 00:17:03] that was really good to implement. In terms of when we were trying to sell the technology, we obviously got [inaudible 00:17:11] involved. But we also set up focus groups of employees and trying to get some champions. And so, we could really find out what they valued out of their current selection and what they would like to see if we were able to go online and also review the selection that we had. And with the technology, we were also able to focus on reward and recognition. So as part of the online platform that we have, we were able to have an online shopping platform, which, you know, didn’t really cost anything.

But it allowed us to give wild points, which is a way of rewarding and just recognizing employees for something great or maybe even just for a service that they do that they’re not thanked for regularly, you know, maybe being a first aider, for example. And so, we were able to use that quite flexibly, which was great. So, in terms of how long the project took, it actually took us around six months. So that was really from the time that we started speaking to providers and getting the buy in from the key stakeholders. So, we started the process in June 2015. And we were in a position to have employees making new benefit selections by late November, early December. And we went live in January 2016. So, this first time and involved introducing the concept to the employees. We did workshops, we did online communications, focus groups, which I mentioned earlier, and the employee champions for the benefits as well. So, during this period of time also, we were able to really promote the benefits.

So we had a lot of the providers come in, which really got the employees involved in things. We did a lot of marketing activities where we had sort of freebies put on their desks to really remind them of what it was that was coming and get them to engage with it with our particular platform, which we have with PES. It’s called Happy People, so it’s a strong brand that people really remember. And so that can be quite important with an employee benefits platform as well. It wasn’t a huge amount of work and we basically had to take all the data from the existing benefits we had. We did do a little bit of brokering just to see that we still had the most appropriate benefits, and at the best cost, we had a project term, we had a communication plan. And really the effort that we put into it was absolutely worth the outcome that we got out of it. The employees really enjoyed the workshop that I mentioned that really got them engaged with their benefits.

And I think that engagement has really remained ever since. And, you know, we’re quite a few years on now. So, there were naturally a few hurdles that I think one of our biggest hurdles was for our manufacturing business. So although we were very keen to get online and get things a little bit more digitalized and also align the two businesses that I’ve spoken about because the manufacturing business didn’t necessarily have email and access to computers regularly, and that did present a little bit of an issue because you do need to log into your portal, and to be able to see these types of things. So, we did have to have a little bit of a manual work around. Some of the communications had to be a little bit more paper based. And we actually had to encourage employees to use their personal email addresses, which actually it wasn’t as hard as it might sound.

And a lot of people still have access to the internet and computers at home now. And even if they don’t at work, and if you can really sell the benefit of what they’re gaining, they’re usually happy to part with that personal email address and use it for their employee benefit. We also had a unionized workforce. And that was not so much a challenge, it was just another hurdle to overcome because we were changing the pension at the time, as well as also going online with the benefits, we just had to get their buy in as well. And that was for the workforce that didn’t have a huge amount of access to technology across the whole board. But the M+W side, everyone had access to computers. So it was quite easy to get them online. Some of the other hurdles you can face is getting people to engage with the technology. And it’s all well for HR getting it online and making that little bit more efficient for themselves.

But it’s a little bit about a culture shift as well. And because if the employees are still coming to HR with every single question, then it won’t, you know, work as well as you would expect. So, it is sort of educating people to go and make their own choices. And it’s also about having a benefits provider, which is, you know, happy to answer the questions that the employees have a helpline almost, that they can call. And that’s something that we have, and that we find works very well. And we really don’t get many questions in HR about employee benefit because they have a great help desk and they can really find their way around the technology and navigate and find all the information that they need themselves. So, we had a very positive experience taking employee benefits online.

And I think that has really continued. We’ve been able to use the metrics to review the benefits and make sure they’re still appropriate every year. We’ve actually implemented a lot of the benefits. We’ve implemented benefits since so we started off with a certain amount of benefit. And the technology really allows you to be so much more flexible where you can add something, you know, every year if you want to. And you can just see how the engagement goes and adapt it and as necessary. So, life now for us is actually much more efficient. We were spending about an hour per employee. And again, it depends how many benefits you have. But for us, it was a lot of HR admin time. I would say now all we do is, because we’ve connected payroll and benefits and there’s a feedback, all we do really is just check the deductions and have oversight.

So, we really don’t get involved in the pension changes and the benefit changes and making sure that they’re all in payroll, and that will happen very smoothly in the background. And so, we’re very fortunate now that we’ve got that technology and it’s very much an employee led process now as well, which employees actually really quite enjoy because they’ve got flexibility to check in the system that everything is as they’d expect it to be. We just have to communicate at the renewal every year and to encourage them to check those benefits. And obviously, we’d hope people check more than once a year anyway. I think it’s been great that they can now see the total value. And so, seeing their total reward statements. I have had some comments from employees that they really haven’t ever appreciated how much the company really invests in them other than just their salary, which is really positive that they’re now realizing that.

So, also with the introduction of the technology, and there was a lot of benefits that we had never even heard of. So you might find that as you start to investigate it and you thought you had some great benefits, which, you know, I’m sure you do but it’s just a case of is there anything better out there and, you know, until you start investigating and you just won’t know. So, we’ve noticed that there’s been really good usage of wellbeing benefits ever since we launched the technology. And it’s been a huge shift towards the wellbeing benefits and how well used they are and how well valued they are. And particularly from senior management here, that’s been some of the best feedback. And they’ve really enjoyed having all those benefits and just at their fingertips as well, which is great.

So yeah, we’re just looking at what we can implement next and how we can use the technology to keep building on the experience that we’ve already had. And we’ve actually had a very good engagement with the platform. So just to give you an idea, I believe the average to an engagement is maybe around 60%, 70%. And I think it all comes down to how you really roll out the process in terms of how much engagement you get from your employees and then how that’s sort of kept up as well by sort of regular communications and then reminding them of what they’ve got and in terms of their benefit. So yeah, we’ve been really pleased. So, I am just going to now pass over to Andrew, who will talk you through a timeline of how long it takes. I’ve touched upon how long it takes for an employee benefit, but he’ll talk in a bit more detail.

Andrew: Thank you, Lizzie. Yeah. And, I think, actually the bits that Lizzie touched upon there are probably most useful for people to understand from the point of approaching the board or decision makers or anybody else within the business to just kick start this process. And then obviously you go through the selecting a preferred provider and everything else, you know, we’re talking about six months. I think one thing that we often come across when we’re talking to people that would love to adopt the technology is this piece around time. So, appreciating that the main thing on that second poll was around budget but also time also becomes a thing because that feels like it might be quite a big project.

But I think what you’ll find as you go through this, is actually once you’ve made the decision about who you want to work with and you’ve got a good understanding of the types of benefits you want to offer and some of that choice. Actually, you’re not looking for, you know, a really, really long implementation process. We typically look at about 12 weeks. It can be far quicker than that. You might be 8 to 10, if you’ve got a much bigger project with some harmonization work or anything else that you need to do maybe it could be as long as 15 or 16. But really this is just designed to give you a good overview of, you know, as a starting point how long it might take you to get to from the point of going, “Yes, we want to go ahead we’ve got the sign off,” to actually, you know, getting the project live and your employees really engaging with the technology for the first time and touching it and being able to transact and make some of those choices.

Cathryn: Okay. Fantastic. Thank you, Andrew and Lizzie for sharing your expertise. It’s now time to move on to the Q&A portion of our broadcast today. Just use the orange arrow to open the Q&A window and send in a question to us. And we have a couple in to kick us off. And Andrew I’d like to start with for one with you. And so, Lizzie mentioned that they integrate their benefits platform with their payroll system. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about integration options between a benefits platform and an HR IS solution such as CIPHR and what’s possible and what are the benefits of integrating those two systems?

Andrew: Sure. So, I’ll talk more broadly about the integration piece and then have you perhaps take that level on with the work we’ve done with CIPHR. So, in its simplest terms, you know, when you’re talking about integration between those two platforms, you’re really talking about how do I get data from point A to point B in its simplest…as a simple question. So, you know, in your HR information system you will capture all of that core employee data, things like name, address, date of birth, salary all that kind of, let’s say, the real baseline stuff.

And, you know, the system that you might use for technology doesn’t really need anything more than a lot of that basic stuff. So, the integration for lots of companies is just through that implementation phase, you know, the 12 weeks I referenced a minute ago saying, “Okay, so our benefits technology needs this data and our HR system holds this data. So, what do we do to get it between the two systems? What’s the format, the frequency, and all of that good stuff.” So people in our implementation team would kick me for suggesting it’s quite that simple. But it really is just as simple as saying, “Can I get data from point A to point B? At what frequency and in which format?” And that is not a difficult process.

If you’d gone back maybe 10 years, maybe even 5 years where the reporting and the configuration options in HR IS was perhaps less than it is today, that was a more difficult task, but it really doesn’t need to be that difficult anymore. Now the beauty, of course, with our work with CIPHR is that what we’ve been able to do is build an actual level of integration between the platforms. Which means, actually no longer do you need to worry about how do I pick up data from here and get it across to there because our teams have been working so closely together, any of our clients that are obviously using both platforms for their HR IS and their benefits means that a lot of that data is just being transferred on behalf of the employee from point A to point B. And actually no one in HR even has to worry about how do I get the data from there to there because it’s just kind of happening in the background.

Cathryn: Yeah. I think, it relates back to that point you were talking about earlier, Andrew, about productivity and the proportion of organisations that aren’t taking advantage of the technology that’s available. It’s just knowing that if you’ve got two systems they can talk to each other. And you might not have known that before. So, it’s a great thing to explore if you want to integrate any of these systems. Your HR IS, your benefit system, your payroll system. And it opens up a whole load of possibilities in time and efficiency savings, and for you to…

Andrew: Cathryn, can I just…Yeah, and to just extend to that point, actually because…you have a really good point. Because it’s then not just about how you get it into the benefits platform it’s how the data then finds its way to providers. You know, Lizzie made a good point that they offer some, you know, quite a broad range of benefits. And obviously have a number of employees and new joiners and everything else, so you’ve then got to, you know, if your employee then says, “Actually, yes I would like to opt into the private medical insurance or I would like to add my family members to it.” It’s the further integration then between the benefits technology and the provider which means that an HR person or reward person is not then having to pick up a paper form with a choice on it and then populate a spreadsheet to then email hopefully fully encrypted to a provider.

Actually, if you’ve got the technology taking data from HR into the benefits platform, facilitating choice for the employee and then capturing that choice in secure reporting mechanisms and sending that straight off to the provider. I think Lizzie’s point highlighted it really well, you’ve suddenly just saved a whole load of time for HR because they’d normally be the people moving that data from point A to B to C to D. The journey is better for the employee. And you’ve just taken out all of that kind of sending data around which you really shouldn’t really be doing in 2019. You know, post GDPR and everything else. You really shouldn’t be picking up and shuffling data around manually and all of that stuff that probably makes a lot of us kind of cringe.

Cathryn: Yeah. Absolutely. I know security is like much more front of mind then it was of post GDPR. And it’s just kind of making sure that you’re optimizing all of your processes and making sure they’re all compliant and that you don’t end up in a kind of sticky situation. And, Lizzie, I wanted to come to you and ask you a question. You mentioned that one of the reasons why you opted for a PES’s solution is that they were the right provider for you. Could you give us any tips for finding the right technology partner to work with? And how you kind of knew that they were the right fit for your organisation?

Lizzie: Yeah. So, I think, it’s a little bit about finding a provider that sometimes is slightly is a similar size to you in organisation and they have sort of similar values in the culture because I talked about, there’s a help desk, and the PES help desk has been incredibly helpful and they really understand our business. So, it’s somebody who’s very open to understanding your business and then understanding the sort of employees you have, the challenges they’re facing. And, you know, and then they can adapt their style to really help the employees when they sign up. Because, as I said, we never get any queries in HR really because they are so helpful and at PES in answering those questions and knowing the employees and what their sort of needs are.

Cathryn: Okay. Brilliant. Another question just coming on the implementation side. Michael asked, he says, “Secure data sharing with benefits providers through software sounds great. But given that benefits providers can change year to year doesn’t this lead to continuously high implementation costs?”

Andrew: No. It doesn’t largely because the way that we’ve set so we…as you can imagine if you take private medical insurance as an example, okay. So, if you were to put your private medical insurance on our portal you might be with AXA, Bupa, Aviva, you know, Cigna any one of those providers. And a lot of our clients will be with one of those. You know, we all have more clients with one and less with others. What that means is if one year you decided that actually you no longer wanted to continue with Bupa and you were looking at Aviva or Vitality, for example, actually because we’ve already got the provider reporting and that integration setup with the end providers it’s that you don’t have to re-implement every time, if that makes sense.

It’s simply a case of look, “We want to continue offering private medical insurance. And this year we’ve made the choice that actually we’re going to switch away from you know, provider A and we’re going with provider B.” I would be extremely surprised if anybody on the call today on the webinar today is working with a private medical insurance provider that our system doesn’t already integrate and pass data to. So, I would be…I’d feel confident in saying that, “No, it would not then lead to further implementation fees years down the line.”

Cathryn: Okay. That’s good news. Hopefully, Michael, that answers your question. I have another question here from, Heather, she asks, “How do the benefits of technology realized differ between SMEs and larger businesses?”

Andrew: Happy to take that one. So, I think it’s not necessarily just about whether it’s an SME or a large business. It also can depend on the nature of your business. So, I think Lizzie raised some really good points about the nature of the workforce, whether they’re online or offline. You know, you could have a really…you can have an SME where they’re all online or offline and a large that’s the same. So I don’t think it’s necessarily as simple as whether you’re small or big. I mean, the other thing to think about is that if you’re a smaller business you are probably more likely to have a smaller HR team.

So, actually the impact of all of this administration and some of the inefficiencies is just relative to the size of your business. Large where we see a lot of the efficiencies gained are in that administration time. It’s why at the beginning took the guests at 5 to 10 hours because we do find that businesses, I’m talking to on a regular basis, are spending a lot of time doing administration. You know, picking up an employee starts and they get a pack, you know, or an email and it takes time to create that pack or to write that email and drop in the attachments or print stuff or whatever it might be, that’s then given to the person.

They then spend a lot of time going through paper packs and going through stuff and trying to understand what it is. And then they don’t understand it, so they go back to HR and, or something’s out of date or whatever, and then they make the selection and then somebody…I mean, you’re probably bored listening to me talking through the process. So, you can imagine having to repeat this over and over and over. But then they get the form back. And they have to pass it to, you know, a provider or payroll or someone else.

That stuff when you total up the time that takes within a business, with a small HR team, with a big to-do list. You can imagine then that businesses go, “I’m not going to spend time doing that anymore. That’s madness. What I’m actually going to do is I’m going to engage in something that can take away all of that process.” And very, very quickly you will start to see savings in that administration space. The other part that we see again a lot of feedback about how it helps is the retention piece. So, you know, recruiting staff is expensive and time consuming. Lots of figures thrown around about what the average cost of one recruit is.

Some people say it’s 20,000 pounds, some will say it’s 50,000 pounds. But if you can just save one or maybe two recruitment processes per year in your business you will start to very quickly see that return on the investment of implementing the technology. And I think, you know, back to my point earlier about what it’s like in 2019, there are so many businesses now adopting benefits technology that if you’re not doing it, it will start to, I believe, show as a bit of a gap in your employee value proposition.

Cathryn: Okay. Thanks so much, Andrew. And that’s all we have time for today. And thank you to our audience for joining us. And thank you to Andrew and Lizzie for sharing their expertise so generously. We hope to see another CIPHR webinar soon. Goodbye.

Andrew Drake from PES, HR business partner at M+W Group Lizzie Mounty, and CIPHR host Cathryn Newbery explore the advantages of introducing employee benefits technology, and why going digital with your benefits scheme could be a lot easier than you’d think.

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