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Buying staff loyalty

first_imgThedays of the Luncheon Voucher may seem but a distant memory, but as CarolineHorn finds out, rewarding performance with coupon-based incentives is making acomebackRewarding employee performance with supermarket or department store vouchersmight, at first glance, seem a little old-fashioned or unimaginative. However,companies considering incentive schemes should take a closer look at thisburgeoning end of the incentives market. Experiences and products as diverse as balloon flights, health treatmentsand electrical goods, can all be acquired with vouchers, and increasinglyfeature as part of corporate incentive schemes. In addition, voucher suppliers are doing all they can to entice theirclients with discounts, streamlined administration and other benefits. The voucher market is currently estimated to be worth more than £1.15bn,according to The Voucher Association, and is looking healthy, despite changesin government legislation four years ago which removed the tax benefits ofgiving vouchers as incentives. Employers and employees are now liable to pay national insurancecontributions on voucher rewards – although the company can volunteer to paythe employee’s tax liability. While the legislative changes did have an immediate and negative effect onthe voucher market when they came into force, suppliers have fought back with arange of new products and services aimed at encouraging companies to usevoucher incentives. As well as making their range of products more exciting, suppliers offer anumber of free services, from presentation packs and discounts to onlineavailability, all aimed at making the running of incentive schemes that muchsmoother and more attractive. Voucher use is growing as part of the corporate benefits packageencompassing child and healthcare provision. Andrea Born, House of Fraser business incentives manager, says: “Retailvouchers work well in flexible benefits schemes, where the employee gives uppart of their salary for vouchers, but can also work just as well in optionalbenefit schemes to help retain experienced staff and entice new employeesin.” Suppliers argue that there are good reasons for rewarding staff withvouchers rather than simply putting a few extra pounds into their bankaccounts. Graham Povey, managing director of Capital Incentives and Motivation,says: “Voucher incentives are different from salary and more attractivebecause of that. People will connect the purchases they make using voucherswith the work they did to get them. They recognise that, if they repeat thatperformance, they will be able to buy something again.” Vouchers also offer flexibility – they can be given as one-off rewards,perhaps for long service or gifts, or form part of formal reward schemes. ButPovey says the golden rule is to keep it simple. “The reason why many incentive schemes fail is because they areover-complicated and measurements are not put in place, or people aren’t surewhat they have to do.” Managing voucher-based incentive schemes can be done in a number of ways.The simplest starting point is to buy vouchers direct from a high street nameand hand them to staff as recognition rewards. Companies could widen the choice by buying vouchers from several differentretailers or outlets. This, however, also increases the administrative burden,and it can become complicated if, for instance, petty cash is being used to buythe vouchers – companies must remember the tax implications of incentiverewards and keep clear records of what is bought and how they are distributed. It can be simpler to approach one large company with a variety of productsand services, such as Virgin Incentives, or to deal with a supplier that‘brokers’ vouchers, such as Capital Incentives or Sodexho Pass – whosenewly-launched corporate gift scheme, Presentz, offers a range of vouchers fromBhs to Hamleys. It is also worthwhile checking what additional free services your supplierwill offer, such as individual presentation packs and discounts for bulkpurchases. And check whether you can send back any vouchers that you don’t use.Any budget allocated to the reward scheme needs to cover administration andcommunication costs – a figure that will be similar to the amount spent on thevouchers themselves. Companies might choose to put these activities into thehands of an outside agency and centralise their supplier. Line managers wouldstill have discretion in giving rewards to separate accounts, but buying andadministration would be handled centrally. Centralised buying can also helpincrease the levels of discount available from suppliers (see box). In the US, there has been a shift away from paper towards plastic-basedvouchers, says Neal George, vice-chair of the Voucher Association and managerof Marks & Spencer Gifts. In the UK, Asda and Borders, owned by US groupWal-Mart, have already introduced plastic vouchers. Another move, still in its early days, is away from paper towards electronicpurchases via the web. Claire Smith, sales manager for Sodexho Pass, says: “Employers can havea hyperlink from their site onto ours so we can help communicate and explainthe scheme to their employees, as well as showing staff where the vouchers canbe spent.” P&MM’s reward voucher system has a client administrator function,allowing firms to enter the names of individuals/groups involved and to managethe schemes electronically in-house. This also makes the job of recordingvoucher distribution – particularly for tax purposes – that much simpler. Companies looking to develop more sophisticated electronic reward schemescould also set up a collaborative scheme with third party suppliers, whereinstead of getting vouchers directly, employees are given reward points whichare paid into a ‘reward bank account’. Individuals will have their own reward account that their employer willcredit when they achieve certain goals. The individual can redeem those fundsfor whatever they want, whenever they want. This kind of scheme can help bypass some of the problems which are inherentwith paper-based voucher schemes. Jonathan Haskell, managing director ofLongService.com, an incentive and reward programme supplier, points out thatwith traditional voucher schemes, the onus is on the employee to redeem thevoucher. “This is great if staff are shop-a-holics with a relevant retail outletnearby, but difficult if they are shop-a-phobics having to visit aninconvenient location to find the item they want.” Men in particular are prone to leaving vouchers forgotten and unredeemed ina dusty drawer, he says. But as Born warns, if you do decide to use vouchers for staff, thinkcarefully about your target audience. “Would they welcome holiday vouchers and, if so, will you be able togive sufficient for a mini-break or holiday – or will they have to use theirown money to ‘top up’ the offering? And how would they feel about being givenvouchers for an ‘experience’ or adventure?” Less-adventurous staff may notrelish the opportunity to go white-water rafting, she adds. Redemption reports, such as those offered by Virgin Incentives, show clientswhere, when and on what the vouchers have been redeemed, which is useful forcampaign evaluation and for establishing participant preferences. And it isworth noting that while it is great to reward staff imaginatively, core highstreet brands still remain the most popular voucher choice, and this is wherethe bulk of the turnover in the voucher market remains. It seems that peoplestill value the tried and tested. Voucher scheme providersVirgin IncentivesVoyager House, 5 The Lanchesters, 162-164 FulhamPalace Road, London W6 9ERTel 0208 600 0444www.virgin.com/incentivesOutlets Virgin offers a number of redemption opportunities, includingbuying online (VirginWines.com) or over the phone. Virgin’s retail outletsinclude 100 Virgin Megastores, 100 Virgin V Shops and Virgin Bride, but alsoleisure activities, such as UGC Cinemas, London VIP theatre packages, VirginActive leisure clubs, beauty treatments and products from The Virgin CosmeticsCompany, Virgin Travelstore (travel agent), weekend breaks, Virgin Atlantic airtickets, and 70 UK Grand Heritage Hotels.Voucher sizes Virgin Megastore: £1, £5, £10, £20; VirginV Shop: £5, £10, £15, £20, £50; and £100; Virgin Travelstore: £10, £50 and £100Discounts Discount structure for the Virgin Art of Givingvoucher.             £5,001-25,000             2.5%            £25,001-50,000           3%            £50,001-75,000           3.5%            £75,001-100,000         4%            £100,000 +      on application House of Fraser business incentivesAndrea Born, Business Incentives Manager, PO Box1324, Oxford OX3 9WHTel:  0870 606 1010www.hofbi.co.ukOutlets House of Fraser has 51 stores nationwide. 13 stores havepersonal shopping suites. Makeovers and/or facials are available in the beautyrooms.Voucher sizes £1, £5, £10, £25, £50Discounts £1,000 – £4,999           2.5%discount            £5,000 – £9,999           5% discount            £10,000 – £14,999       7.5% discountOther services Use of HoF logo on printed material; useof images/transparencies; help with copywriting; gift wallets available forvouchers; help with ideas for employee voucher schemes; website – www.hofbi.co.uk – has a downloadablepresentationKingfisherKingfisher Voucher Centre, PO Box 141, Castleton,Lancashire OL11 3DZTelephone: 0800 146 500www.kgv.comOutlets Valid in 1,300 stores (B&Q, MVC, Comet, Woolworths andWoolworths’ big W) on 125,000 different products Voucher sizes £1, £5, £10, £25Discounts £1,000 to £10,000       2.5%            £10,000 plus    5%            £25,000 plus    negotiableAdditional services Free presentation wallets; logo /transparency services; credit facilities; voucher tracking service Case studies Renault Financial ServicesAim Renault Financial Services (RFS), which providesmotor finance, wanted an incentive scheme to boost dealership sales of theRenault Selections finance package.Participants Around 1,500 sales executives from anetwork of 250 dealerships.Operation An annual programme, Get into Gear Grand Prix,launched in January 2002, developed for RFS by Capital Incentives. Each newRenault Selections agreement sold was rewarded with a scratch card and awardsin the form of Capital Bond vouchers.Results The Get into Gear incentive, one of severaltactics used to increase sales of Renault Selections, contributed to a 15  per cent overall increase in RenaultSelections agreements from 2001 to 2002.EasyJetAim To reward and recognise employees through a staffnomination scheme that offered maximum choice through an easy-to-manage,cost-effective system.Participants EasyJet has around 3,000 staff, all of whomare eligible for nomination.Operation The scheme, set up by P&MM, allows anymember of staff to nominate any person or team at anytime via the intranetsite. Nominations are judged by a panel of staff from the company and winningnominations are awarded points, which can be redeemed online for the vouchersof their choice.Results The company says it has received positivefeedback from staff and that nominations are increasing month on month.Boots: Bonmarch‚A value retailer that sells affordable quality womenswear.Aim Bonmarch‚ introduced a sales incentive reward schemethat would drive sales, increase morale and boost staff loyalty.Participants The company employs around 2,000 employeesnationwide, all of whom are eligible for the award.Operation The company’s incentive schemes include anine-week performance scheme won by one store from each of the 16 regions.Staff are rewarded with Boots gift vouchers.Results The company says the programme has helped improveperformance and perception of the company as an employer. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. 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