Three opportunities of a pre-paid employee engagement programme

Here, Heather Ribbans, head of prepaid at AFEX, explains how the introduction of a prepaid programme can maximise the efficiency of your workforce.

The UK’s workforce is arguably more dynamic than ever before. Nearly eight million people are considering joining the gig economy, 98 per cent of employers believe that a globally mobile workforce is important to achieving their objectives, and 66 per cent of millennials expect to leave their current employer by 2020.

Recruiting, retaining and maximising the efficiency of employees with differing needs is a challenge in this unpredictable environment. In fact, 43 per cent of small businesses have reported difficulty in recruiting appropriately-skilled staff, and Aon’s Trends in Global Employee Engagement indicates that 35 per cent of employees are disengaged, with negative implications for productivity and growth.

Leaders of small businesses can leverage an effective prepaid employee engagement programme, to grow appeal over competitors and negotiate problem areas, in three ways.

Boost employee satisfaction

According to a recent report from global recruitment consultancy Robert Half, the UK has one of the lowest levels of workplace satisfaction in the world, ranking sixth in Europe behind the USA, Germany, Netherlands, France, and Belgium.

This is especially concerning considering that happy employees are approximately 10-12 per cent more productive than their dissatisfied colleagues. UK employees surveyed for the report noted ‘being treated with fairness and respect’ as the second key driver of their happiness in the workplace.

Most business owners would consider this a fair demand, yet many are failing to deliver to these criteria in one crucial area: paying employees on time. Alarmingly, 44 per cent of European employees have been paid late, with 48 per cent having also been paid incorrectly. The consequences for employee engagement are damaging: 41 per cent of UK employees have considered leaving their job as a result.

These inefficiencies can be remedied with a prepaid payroll programme like PayFEX: payroll managers can open a central corporate account and instantly distribute funds to their prepaid card-holding employees worldwide, regardless of their location.

This flexibility aligns perfectly with the dynamics of today’s international workforce. There is no need to wait for payments to clear and, by linking the prepaid cards to a central portal, payroll managers can activate automated SMS alerts to instantly notify employees when they’ve been paid.

Incentivise productivity

Motivated employees are the lifeblood of success for any business, and their role should be recognised as such. However, not feeling valued (34 per cent) and a lack of career progression (33 per cent) can be key contributing factors to employee unhappiness, with 1 in 4 actively seeking a new job to secure a better deal.

Many small business leaders have addressed this by integrating employee incentive programmes, gifting nearly £1,000 a year through rewards such as hotel, shopping and flight vouchers.

Evidence suggests that such programmes are worth the investment, with 46 per cent of employees feeling valued after receiving rewards, and 33 per cent reporting an increased motivation to work harder.

Prepaid technology can maximise these benefits for small business owners by ensuring that your incentive programme is aligned effectively to today’s digital-first, on-the-go employees.

For example, many businesses still issue physical rewards such as paper vouchers: convenient for in-country employees, but potentially difficult and inefficient to issue quickly to employees in countries where your business does not have a physical presence.

Prepaid incentive cards make this process convenient and hassle-free by linking, for example, directly to your employees’ sales performance, digitally administering automated, guaranteed rewards.

This enables globally mobile employees to redeem their rewards instantly, in over 35m locations in-store and online worldwide: A truly flexible solution for flexible workers.

Maximise efficiency

UK SMEs lose £8.72 billion a year to inefficient management of finance related tasks such as expenses. This is not only detrimental to business growth, but can also be time-consuming, demotivating and damaging to employee productivity.

Expense reporting was named by corporate travellers as the third-most frustrating aspect of the corporate travel process in last year’s Business Traveller Sentiment Index™.

Such dissatisfaction is unsurprising, given that 41 per cent of employees still submit expenses through a laborious and time-intensive spreadsheet process.

Further, employees are aware of the negative impact on their productivity: 80 per cent report that they file expenses during working hours, and 55 per cent note that this process can take up to two hours.

Crucially, the index highlights that 42 per cent of business travellers prefer paying for expenses with a corporate card, and find it easier to track expenses using electronic receipts over paper copies.

Prepaid expense cards are the perfect solution for meeting these employee expectations. With the branding, feel, and usability of a corporate card, they can be linked to an online portal which allows employees to capture expenses and upload receipts from their smartphone while on the go.

With built-in FX conversion, prepaid cards make your employees’ lives easier by bringing expense management into the digital age.

In summary, the UK’s small business sector is showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to international growth: our own research revealed that nearly 46 per cent of SMEs expected to increase their international payments in 2016.

These ambitions are to be encouraged, and the benefits are plentiful, but business leaders must ensure that they are truly equipped to manage and motivate the dynamic, mobile and international workforces that are associated with globalisation.

In this environment, small business owners must consider a comprehensive prepaid employee engagement programme that accounts for payroll, expenses and incentives.

Pre-paid technology is so easy to implement, but by making employees’ lives easier in three key areas, a small change can yield critical competitive advantages for today’s businesses, and equip them to cope with the challenges of employee engagement tomorrow.

Heather Ribbans is head of prepaid at AFEX

Further reading on employee engagement

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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