Even with the best tech, the heart of the company is its people, who dedicate their time and efforts to growing the business and making it a success. As competition in the global economy increases, leaders and HR practitioners acknowledge the value of a happy, satisfied workforce.
A good way to ensure employees' satisfaction is to recognize them. Because of this, many HR departments put together and continuously develop recognition programs designed to keep workers happy. Recognition programs aim to recognize and reward good work but may also recognize other important milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries. Companies may use platforms or employee recognition software specifically designed to recognize employees to streamline the process.
There are many ways that employers can recognize employees. Recognition can be formal, like at a year-end conference, or informal, where a manager can acknowledge and thank an employee for their efforts in passing. In some cases, recognition can involve something tangible like a bonus or gift; in other cases, it may be a simple thank you verbally or via email.
Some companies may gift employees for birthdays, work anniversaries, or holidays.
Management must know how to recognize an employee and whether or not recognition comes with a bonus or gift.
While employee recognition is in place to enhance the employees' experience at work, there are several benefits that the company can enjoy.
Since many companies compete globally, they have a wider net of available talent. While this may be an advantage, it also means that top candidates have a wider range of potential companies to work for. In the past, it was common for employees to join a firm as a young adult and remain with the company for the duration of their career, regardless of how they felt about the job, employer, and workplace.
These days, it's common and easy for employees to job-hop and move from one company to another if they feel unappreciated or undervalued. Because of this, HR practitioners not only need to work on attracting the best candidates but also need to make sure these employees feel valued and happy at work so that they retain them.
High staff turnover rates are bad for businesses. It takes time and money to go through the process of searching for and placing new staff, and once new people have been hired, it takes time to train and onboard them.
A high staff turnover also slows down productivity as, depending on how long it takes to fill a position, the position may be vacant for some time. In this case, the work stalls or is assigned to other employees, adding to their workload. Once a new candidate is hired, it takes time to train and onboard them.
It is typically more cost-effective and efficient to have staff stay with a company for longer so that work processes and flows are disrupted.
People are naturally wired to seek validation. Employees want to know that their efforts are appreciated and that their seniors and peers value their contribution. Often, recognition is linked to engagement and motivation. When employees feel valued, they are motivated to work harder and increase their efforts since they know they are being seen. This improves productivity.
On the other hand, companies that don't recognize or reward employees may notice that their staff's motivation may decrease. Employees who think management doesn't acknowledge their efforts may adopt a 'why bother' attitude since they feel their work goes unnoticed.
Positive reinforcement is an ideology that states that by praising a specific type of behaviour, people are more likely to repeat it. In the workplace, employees want their seniors to be pleased with them. So, if seniors recognize or praise good work or particular behaviour, employees are more likely to repeat it.
For example, if an employee puts a lot of time and effort into doing a task and their manager praises them for it, that employee is likely to put the same amount of effort into future tasks knowing that it will please their manager. In this way, the company is getting the desired outcome of high-quality work.
Recognizing employees, their hard work and their efforts are vital for the business's success. Recognition programs help leaders and HR to ensure employees feel appreciated, which improves productivity, helps attract and retain the best talent, reinforces desired behaviour, and boosts motivation.
John Kissane is the NY Area President and a Health & Welfare practice leader at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. - one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firms with operations in 34 countries and client-service capabilities in more than 150 countries. Founded in 1927 by its namesake, Gallagher fosters a differentiated culture that reflects the company’s roots as a family business and the focus on delivering top-tier capabilities to clients. Below, John speaks to Finance Monthly about the employee benefits services that the company offers and tells us how employers can succeed in an increasingly difficult labor market.
Tell us more about the employee benefits services that Gallagher provides?
At Gallagher, we work hard to understand our clients’ industries, the markets in which they operate, and the unique constraints and opportunities that can affect their success. Rising healthcare costs, workforce issues, hiring challenges, legal risks, competitive positioning, financial strategy, compliance requirements—all of these factors impact employers’ ability to reach their full potential.
We are driven by a desire to help our clients - it’s something that all insurance companies strive for; better outcomes from better performance. That’s why we’ve developed Gallagher Better Works℠, our holistic approach to employee and organisational wellbeing. A better workplace attracts, engages and retains top talent at the right cost. This approach centres on strategic investments in employees’ health, financial wellbeing and career growth. It utilises data to gather insights and apply the best practices that promote productivity and growth.
Through the delivery of Gallagher's comprehensive approach to benefits, compensation, retirement, employee communications and workplace culture, our clients can optimise their annual talent investment, mitigate organisational risk and maximise profitability. Best of all, they gain a competitive advantage as a workplace that simply works better.
What trends are you seeing in the current health insurance and benefits landscape and how do you intend to keep up with these?
Healthcare costs continue to rise and we have seen an increase in creative funding mechanisms focused on bending the trend. Reference-based pricing, gap plans and split-funding products are a few examples. The need to control the cost of care and manage the health risk of employee populations has led to an explosion in solutions over the years. Gallagher is a trusted adviser to our clients. As such, our focus is on solving their challenges and recommending solutions that make sense for their specific organisational goals and objectives. This allows us to be entrepreneurial, and through our global network of professionals, we are connected to a vast array of vendors that can help meet our client’s needs.
What is the biggest challenge that employers face today? What would be your solution?
Attracting and retaining employees is a huge challenge, made more urgent due to the strong economy. Cultural and technological dynamics add to this – younger employees resist the idea of building a long career at one company, while at the same time they require proper skills and training to be productive while there.
How can employers succeed in an increasingly difficult labor market? You start by building a better workplace – one that truly engages key talent. Organisations must align their people strategy with their business goals. By focusing on the full spectrum of organisational wellbeing – and supporting their employees’ physical and emotional health, talents, financial health and career growth ‒ employers are able to realise a better return on their benefits investment.
What do you find businesses commonly fail to consider when it comes to employee benefits?
Far too often, companies fail to take a holistic, long-term approach to their benefits and compensation programs. In the struggle with managing healthcare costs, the “just get through the next renewal” mindset still exists. A recent survey of employers shows that 68% consider benefits and compensation cost management a top priority, yet 64% don’t have an effective strategy in place to achieve that goal. With multiple priorities, competing for employers’ attention, many turn to familiar tactics that no longer work.
A multi-year strategy that encompasses the entire total reward proposition and leverages insights, data analytics and best-in-class tools can lead to reductions in costs without sacrificing the value of the benefits offered to employees and their families.
To hear about Employee Benefits in the US, Finance Monthly reached out to Tiffany Kapp, Managing Partner at Custom Business Solutions (CBS) - Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) located in Southern West Virginia.
Tell us about the services that CBS and other PEOs offer.
Professional Employer Organisations typically provide services that help streamline essential administrative business functions, so our clients can focus on being successful and profitable.
As a PEO, CBS can pool all our clients’ employees into one large group and in return, we can then offer large group rates. We administer the employee benefits and relieve the employer of the burden of open enrolment, reconciliation and termination of benefits.
CBS enables clients to cost-effectively outsource the management of human resources, employee benefits, payroll, workers’ compensation, risk management, safety management, training and development.
What are the minimum legal requirements regarding employee benefit plans in West Virginia?
A small group can be as little as two employees. However, the small group rates are based on age and tobacco use. Joining a PEO allows a small group to be pulled into a large group with blended rates.
Could you talk us through recent legislative changes in the Professional Employer Organisation landscape?
The Small Business Efficiency Act of 2014 required the IRS to establish a certification program for PEOs. This act affects the employment tax liabilities of both the PEO and its customers and is something that gives structure to the PEO industry. CBS is currently in the process of becoming certified through the IRS.
What is some statistical evidence that you can provide on the benefits of using a PEO?
The PEO Industry has grown significantly over the past 30 years. According to a recent study noted by economists Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer, a business that uses a PEO has 10 to 14% lower employee turnover, grows 7 to 9% faster and is 50% less likely to go out of business.
Our September Expert Insight section benefits from an interview with Raymond Walker - Founder, Chairman and CEO of Caribbean Assurance Brokers Ltd. in Jamaica.
Over the last 34 years, Raymond has led a distinguished management, sales and marketing career. He was introduced to the industry as a Salesman at the then Life of Jamaica (LOJ) and quickly moved up the ranks to Vice President of Marketing. After a successful tenure at LOJ, Raymond then moved on to Blue Cross of Jamaica, where, as the Executive Vice President of Marketing & Services, he further realized that advocacy and the ultimate representation of any client would be best achieved via Insurance Broking and not so much within the confines of an insurance company. This idea truly resonated and reinforced Raymond’s desire to establish an Insurance Brokerage.
In 2005, he gathered a team of dedicated professionals, who shared his vision and together they formed Caribbean Assurance Brokers Ltd. (CAB), a multi-line insurance brokerage, offering the full spectrum of General, Employee Benefits, Individual Life, International Health, International Life, Travel and Credit Union Members insurance products and services to cover all possible needs while providing the best terms with greatest value for money.
As Chairman of CAB’s Marketing and Business Development Committee of the Board, Raymond frequently reviews strategies and initiatives designed to differentiate CAB from its competitors. Some of these initiatives have not only allowed CAB to create valuable market niches but have also expanded the company’s reach and scope well beyond the shores of Jamaica.
Please tell us a little about the typical insurance matters that Caribbean Assurance Brokers Limited deal with?
At Caribbean Assurance Brokers Limited, our role is to act on behalf of our clients by identifying and providing advice in their area of interest. We place a high value on our client’s needs, and so, as a multi-line insurance brokerage, we enroll in all areas, whether it be Employee Benefits, General Insurance, Individual Insurance or International Insurance.
How do you manage the diversity of your services so that there is synergy between each offering?
We place a high value on a strong team approach, which ensures that our clients benefit from the collective expertise of our diverse specialists. In addition to several types of meetings, there exists a range of cross-selling opportunities throughout the company. There are weekly internal CAB-inet meetings that we use to discuss the week’s plans from each area, Management meetings at the beginning of each month, used to discuss the performances of the previous month and our monthly Staff meetings, where we use the opportunity to keep all staff members informed and involved in all product lines. These meetings were designed to ensure that everyone is aware at all times, and along with our cross-selling advantages, they assist in keeping the synergy between each offering within the company.
What would you say are the specific challenges of assisting clients with insurance?
In the insurance industry, one of the greatest challenges recognized is that not many clients understand the intricacies of risk. The average person may only consider the cost, not realizing that the cheaper option may not necessarily be within their best interest. At Caribbean Assurance Brokers, we take the time out to educate our clients, which is key, because we are aware that some persons do not even recognize the importance of insurance, which at times, makes it difficult for us to get clients to allocate sufficient time for a wholesome discussion on their risk profile. Moreover, it is perceived that even with sophisticated clients, there is still a fundamental mistrust of insurance. People tend to want to see the ‘fine print’.
What strategies do you implement to minimize financial burdens in regards to insurance packages?
At CAB, we operate within a much lower cost regimen than our competitors because we generate at least 65% of our own energy needs via Solar Panels. With electricity being a major cost driver in Jamaica, we are able to operate at lower margins I.e. lower commission rates. This is critical, as margins in terms of commission rates impact the premium, so we can offer competitive products at lower rates.
What are the particular challenges that insurers in the Caribbean have been facing over the past year in relation to changes in what customers expect in terms of products and services?
The brokerage arena is characterized by fierce competition, and once there is a competitive arena, people will shop around. Clients expect to receive the greatest value for the smallest outlay. Fierce competition leads companies to lower their rates to maintain their clients, while other companies lower theirs to pull clients. Also, extremely fierce competition is likely to come from some of the very same insurance companies for which we solicit business.
It is also observed that the increase level of awareness of a more sophisticated market in the Caribbean is driving expectations of our clients to the extent that they are demanding first-world products and services at third-world premiums.
Can you tell Finance Monthly about your involvement in the community and its impact?
In June 2006, our Social Club Outreach Committee decided that part of its mandate would be to give back to the community in a very real way because we felt that as a new company, we needed to not only do well but also to do good. Therefore, any contribution that we made towards national development would not only give great personal satisfaction to the staff, but also generate a very positive response in the community in which we operate. We make most of our contributions to the development of young minds at the Reddie’s Place of Safety, which has been a haven to orphans, as well as abandoned and abused youngsters. This program continues to date, which involves the provision of groceries to the Home each month along with several interactions with the children during the holiday periods. The children have now become an integral part of the lives of our Team and are involved in all of CAB’s social activities.
In addition to the Reddies Place of Safety, we have awarded scholarships to two members of the community. One has graduated from high school, now attending University and the other has graduated from high school and is now an honour student. Caribbean Assurance Brokers remains committed to these children, as we believe the future success of Jamaica lies with the development of the hearts and minds of the nation’s youth.
What makes your company unique?
Caribbean Assurance Brokers Ltd has exclusive rights to certain products, namely our International Comprehensive Health Insurance Programme (ICHIP) and our short-term Medical Travel Insurance Product, Assured Travel. Our ICHIP Programme allows clients to access first-world medical health services. The plan carries a zero deductible option locally and globally, except for the USA. It provides up to $2 million worth of coverage each year and requires no medical examinations and no age limit amongst other premium benefits.
Our Assured Travel Product provides Travel Insurance to clients with the convenience of direct payment online, and access to an extensive International Provider Network of Medical services with 24-hour emergency access anywhere in the world.
Another value proposition that CAB has introduced to its clients is our loyalty program, which will assist in our customer retention, expansion and acquisition.
In recognition of our amazing and loyal clients, we have recently launched our Caribbean Assurance Brokers Loyalty Programme (CABLP), where our customers are given their personal loyalty card which provides them access to receive discounts, savings and cashback at over 200 merchants and providers locations island wide; which includes leading supermarkets, wellness centers, retail stores, hotels, pharmacies, hospital, restaurants, gym and much more. This is our way of giving back to our valued customers and another winning competitive edge.
Kicking off February’s Thought Leader section is an interview with Lee French – a professional who’s dedicated his career to the employee benefits industry. Previously Head of Defined Contribution Pensions and Client Relationship Management at Alexander Forbes Consultants & Actuaries, Lee is a Director of Corinthian Affinity Solutions, the specialist arm of the Corinthian Group (previously Beaufort Consulting), which enables accountants, payroll providers, IFAs and other ‘affinity’ groups to deliver a simple, all-inclusive and easy to understand auto-enrolment solution for their clients which saves them money, time and stress. Corinthian Affinity has created a straightforward online solution that is simple, clear, cost-effective and most importantly, compliant. It is a standardised solution which provides straight through end-to-end processing using the company’s market leading auto-enrolment portal and Salvus Master Trust Pension Scheme. Here Lee sheds some light on auto-enrolment, the solutions that Corinthian Affinity provides and the firm’s ethics and goals moving forward.
Corinthian Affinity offers auto-enrolment solutions to employers, accountants, payroll bureaux and other 'Affinity' groups - what are the main challenges associated with operating within the sector?
I think that the biggest challenge at the moment, which is not only our challenge, but is also an industry challenge, is lack of understanding and lack of engagement from both employers and employees. Auto-enrolment has been thrust upon hundreds of thousands of employers that have never had pension schemes in the past. At the moment, we are seeing the antithesis of engagement, since employers have no other choice but to comply with auto-enrolment and the processes it involves. Their employees are auto-enrolled into a pension scheme without any real understanding and due to inertia, very few make the decision to ‘opt-out’. Since the Retail Distribution Review back in 2012, advisers can no longer get a commission from pension providers, which typically would have paid for education and engagement exercises, such as presentations and one-to-ones. Therefore, many employers don’t understand the concept and see it as a tax, rather than a benefit, and are not willing to pay for education exercises themselves.
The Department for Work and Pensions has tried to raise awareness of workplace pensions through numerous advertising campaigns, since one in five companies now miss their staging date. In fact, the Pensions Regulator’s quarterly bulletin showed that the number of compliance notices (the notice you receive if you fail to meet your first deadline) went up by 25% in the last quarter of 2016. Today, 31 680 compliance notices have gone out since auto-enrolment started in October 2012. This worrying trend will continue as we’re now looking at the smaller end of the market – the small employer that probably doesn’t know much about the legislation and the impact it will have on them.
Another issue that we are faced with is the fact that most employers are completely missing the point of auto-enrolment – auto-enrolment actually has very little to do with pensions, it is mainly all about process, administration and data. This lack of knowledge results in many people using NEST - the workplace pension solution set up by the Government for all those employers who can’t or don’t want to find another pension scheme. The problem with this is however that the main reason for a lot of people using NEST is simply because it’s free. They register with NEST and then they don’t do anything with regards to their actual duties, which naturally results in them getting fined. This is why our main goal is to educate these people and make sure that they understand all the processes involved in auto-enrolment, so they can see it as a benefit, rather than a tax.
Could you talk Finance Monthly through future legislative changes in the auto-enrolment landscape?
The Department for Work and Pensions is currently consulting on a review of the legislation. The biggest change, that I think everyone in the industry wants to see happen is an increase in the contributions. At the moment, come April 2019, the contributions are only going to be 8% - 5 % from the employee and 3 % from the employer. At Corinthian, we don’t think that’s going to provide the typical employee with a suitable pension or retirement savings when they reach retirement age. However, this is not in scope for the review.
Thus far the UK has been closely following the Australian method for pension saving. I believe that if we continue doing so, we’ll soon see a scrapping of the opt-out rules. At the moment, although automatically enrolled into a pension scheme, the employer still has to give the employee the option to opt-out of it. Although, due to apathy, the vast majority of people won’t do anything, it would be more efficient if employees have no other option but to stay in the pension scheme.
Another thing that’s been looked at by the Government is tackling the issue of the self-employed, since at the moment there’s no legislative requirement in regards to their retirement savings. I believe that the Government’s next focus will be on legislation for them.
In what ways are these going to affect the sector and Corinthian’s practice?
In terms of the sector, I foresee a merger of a lot of companies - I think the number of employee benefit consultancies and pension providers will be reduced, since the larger employee benefit consultancies will swallow up some of the smaller ones. We’ve already seen the start of this trend with Aviva and Friends Life’s merger. As we want to work with real companies and their employees, being part of a larger employee benefit consultancy won’t necessarily suit us, therefore we’re in it for the long haul.
Recent legislative changes will make our job of increasing education, understanding and engagement more important because when there are changes of this magnitude, it’s important that employers know about them and understand them. Our aim is for all employers to see auto-enrolment as a benefit as quickly as possible and to make sure they give the opportunity to their employees to understand it too.
What are the most common auto-enrolment solutions that you offer to your clients?
Although we approach every meeting with a potential client or partner with a blank sheet of paper, Corinthian Affinity offer three main solutions. The first is for an ‘affinity’ group who operate payroll, we provide them with the auto-enrolment solution so that they can give an all-inclusive service to their clients, saving them time, money and lots of stress. The client doesn’t even have to know we exist, as we provide the accountant, payroll bureau or bookkeeper with the support, so that they can white label it as their solution.
If a company doesn’t operate payroll and can’t administer auto-enrolment (for example like many IFAs), then we can do all the work for them to make their clients fully-compliant and assist them throughout the whole process. All that the client needs to do is send us their payroll data every pay period and we’ll do the rest.
Lastly, the most popular consulting solution that we offer, called Assist, is mainly aimed at those employers who want to do a little extra for their employees and ensure they understand the pension scheme and the benefits it provides. We help the employers with communications and engagement programs. We will provide branded booklets, bespoke presentations and salary sacrifice for pension contributions. In addition, we will provide the employer with governance meetings to ensure that they are fully engaged and understand the importance of the benefits that they provide.
How do you tailor your approach when advising on auto-enrolment?
Our approach is very much tailored to what the client wants. Unlike many of our competitors, we still want to meet every potential client face to face and go into every meeting with a blank piece of paper, we ask what their ideal solution in the given situation is, regardless of whether we’re talking to an accountant, IFA or an employer directly. We then put together a bespoke plan for them. I believe that this is why having different levels of service and not having a set product works much better for our customers.
What complications would you say the firm encounters on a regular basis? How are these resolved?
It’s down to the lack of understanding about the legislation. Regardless of the legislation that the Government is introducing, they always seem to make it as complex as possible. If you go on to the Pensions Regulator’s website, you’ll find 484 pages of guidance on auto-enrolment and see how complicated that legislation is, which results in a huge lack of understanding. As mentioned earlier, our clients don’t understand that it’s all about the process and that it’s their responsibility to ensure that they fulfil their duties. Therefore, what we’re trying to do is improve their lives by making the complex simple.
What are the company’s top three priorities towards its clients? How has this evolved over the years?
I think that our top three main priorities are around education, understanding and engagement -making sure that both the employer and employee understand what’s going on. These have been our top priorities since the very beginning – our main focus has always been on real companies and making sure that the employer is getting a return on their benefit spend, by employees understanding their pension schemes and the other benefits they receive. What we’ve tried to develop here at Corinthian is the same as what we developed previously with Alexander Forbes – helping employers and employees gain a full understanding of their benefits package, seeing it as a total reward rather than focusing purely on the basic salary.
What goals are you currently working towards with Corinthian Affinity Solutions? What is your vision for the future of its services?
When Corinthian Affinity was established early in 2015, our aim was to support those small and micro employers staging between 2016 and 2018. As many of these will turn to their professional adviser for help, it was important that we provided a service to those ‘affinity’ groups, hence why we are supporting so many accountants, bookkeepers and IFAs. We see this continuing until auto-enrolment is fully embedded and becomes second nature. We also see a very big secondary market of accountants, bookeepers, IFAs and employers who have worked with other employee benefit consultancies or with NEST and are suddenly realising that they get no value from this partnership. At Corinthian it’s all about a value added service and we’re spending more time on this aspect so that we can provide our partners and clients with a solution that’s going to save them time, money and stress.
What do you anticipate for the sector in the near future?
I expect more digital and online solutions – we’re certainly looking at developing our online capabilities further. Our website was completely revamped in October last year when we launched as Corinthian, but we still want to develop more digital solutions that can help with the education, understanding and engagement of pension scheme members.
In relation to the sector – I feel that everyone is going to try to compete for the secondary market in auto-enrolment. However there will come a time when we all get back to our day jobs of assisting employers and employees with all of their employee benefits, and not just the pension schemes.
What lies on the horizon for Corinthian Group and Corinthian Affinity Solutions in 2017?
2017 is going to be a massive year for us – there are still 800 000 employers who haven’t reached their staging date. This means that many companies will need our help and there’s a lot of people that we can assist this year. We’d be happy to get to work with even 1% of these 800 000 companies to ensure we make their lives easier and allow them to focus on running their business.
How would you evaluate your role and its impact?
I’ve known the MD and the other two directors for a long time, so in 2015 when they asked me to come in and set up the separate business, which is now Corinthian Affinity, I was delighted. Initially I started off designing the proposition and spending time with our own accountants to find out exactly what it was they wanted. Once I understood their needs it put me in a better position to start discussing this with other accountants, bookkeepers and IFAs who needed help. I spend a lot of time coaching and working with our relationship managers to ensure that they provide the exceptional customer service that we pride ourselves on. Over the course of the next two months, we’re moving offices to Tunbridge Wells and all of us, the four directors, are completely dedicated to supporting each other and the wider business to ensure that we can continue to deliver on our core values.
What’s your golden nugget of advice for other professionals working within the auto-enrolment sector?
They need to engage with their clients more. A lot of our competitors offer free services but they don’t offer any value added service - they’ll set up the pension scheme and then walk away. I believe that it’s vital to provide ongoing support to our partners and clients that we’re working with and actually engage with them. We try to add actual value to our clients and give them all the support that we can, so they can continue running their businesses. I’d say that the vast majority of our competitors just don’t do that.