EXCLUSIVE: Recruitment organisation Hays has updated its benefits platform, introduced a new wellbeing structure to align with available benefits and launched an online employee engagement survey in order to reinvigorate and modernise its approach to benefits and reward.
The business sought to update its benefits offering to reflect how the workplace has changed in recent years. Trisha Brookes, director of people and culture, UK and Ireland at Hays, explained: “Work has changed hugely over the years. Traditional benefits, like the ones we were offering under our flexible benefits system, with a one-size-fits-all approach, are no longer fit for purpose.
“We’re really focused on our systems working for employees and so we wanted our new benefits platform to be much more imaginative, much more flexible and really used to attract, retain and motivate our employees. We’ve focused on offering more choice and flexibility, so that’s been a key strategy. We’ve re-vamped the platform to make it more intuitive.”
Hays partnered with software provider Benefex in November 2018 to launch My Choice, its new benefits platform. Available as both a mobile app or via desktop, My Choice now houses all of the organisation’s benefits package, as opposed to its previous platform which only allowed access to flexible benefits. Furthermore, Hays used the introduction of the platform to introduce anytime benefits, whereas previously the organisation had utilised an annual benefits election window in December, for benefits effective from the following January.
The organisation also implemented a new will writing benefit in conjunction with the platform launch.
Following on from the implementation of My Choice, Hays re-structured its benefits package in January and February 2019 in order to group each of its benefits under one of its new wellbeing pillars: My Health, My Life and My Money. Collectively, this is known as Wellbeing@Hays.
Brookes said: “We’ve tried to really emphasise why our benefits are important because they’re important to an employee’s wellbeing and if [we] get all the pillars of wellbeing correct, then hopefully that means that people are able to focus on work-life balance. Each [pillar] is important to an employee in some way and they will have a knock-on effect; they’re all interconnected.”
Included within the My Health pillar, for example, are eyecare e-vouchers and health assessments, while grouped under My Money are benefits such as Hays’ pension, employee loan facility, season ticket loans and its will writing benefit. My Life, on the other hand, features benefits like its employee assistance programme (EAP), charitable giving, a cycle to work scheme, buying holiday and restaurant discount cards.
There is a fourth pillar too, My Work Environment, which provides information on flexibility around working hours and patterns, training and development and Hays’ dress code.
In addition to updating its current provision, Hays has also introduced some new benefits. This includes Doctor at Hand in February 2019, which enables staff to have up to three private online GP appointments a year, paid for by Hays, and the Hays loyalty award, a long-service award that was implemented in April 2019, giving employees experience or retail vouchers. In July 2019, the organisation plans to launch Hays Help, a volunteering scheme where staff can volunteer for a charity or a community project using a paid day off work.
The recruitment firm has further implemented a new online employee engagement survey, to replace its Talk Back survey. This group wide, short, anonymous survey is due to close at the end of the month; Brookes hopes to gain feedback on the changes that have been implemented to date.
My Choice was communicated to staff using e-shots and teaser emails from the organisation’s managing director. There were also communications sent from the benefits platform itself during the initial election window. Wellbeing@Hays was communicated separately, primarily using a new quarterly wellbeing newsletter that uses seasonal themes. These highlight benefits that relate to the newsletter’s subject matter.
When My Choice launched last year, Hays saw 86% of employees engage with the platform; Benefex’s benchmarking data stated that the average launch engagement was typically around 58% in comparison. In the first six weeks after benefits become effective in January, there were also 858 log-ons to the platform. Additionally, in quarter one, more than 50% of Hays’ UK staff registered with the Doctor at Hand service.
Hays has 3,200 employees in the UK and Ireland. Although Wellbeing@Hays is available for all employees in these regions, My Choice has currently only been available to UK staff; Hays plans to roll this out to Irish employees in November 2019.
For Hays, the objectives of the benefits re-vamp are to raise awareness of the employee benefits package, increase employee engagement, introduce real-time reporting and offer anytime benefits. Brookes added: “Wellbeing@Hays is the holistic approach. We want all our people to feel happy, healthy and productive every day of the year, every day of the week and at Hays, obviously we’re not able to solve everyone’s challenges, but we want them to feel supported and that’s why we look at these pillars.”