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Why Innovative Employee Benefits Are Your Competitive Advantage

A shortage of skilled workers remains a challenge. South African SMEs, in particular, have found themselves in a race to attract and retain scarce talent.

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Samantha Jagdessi
Samantha Jagdessi

Samantha Jagdessi, Head of Benefits Consulting at Old Mutual Corporate Consultants

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The 2017 Old Mutual Corporate SME Employee Benefits Monitor revealed that the provision of employee benefit solutions can be a significant source of competitive advantage. However, the research also found that SMEs perceive employee benefits as another cost or administrative burden to ‘comply’ with.

This isn’t the case

Retaining a talented workforce is crucial for business success. Frequent staff turnover can have a negative impact on employee morale, productivity and company revenue. Studies predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it can cost between six to 24 months of the salary — depending on the role.

While well-resourced corporates tend to hold the advantage over SMEs in offering better benefits, SMEs can tailor their benefits package to suit their means, giving them a competitive advantage. But, while the Monitor shows that SMEs acknowledge the value and role that employee benefits can play, this isn’t translating into action, as only 32% have retirement funding on their agenda.

Related: With the Right Incentives Loyal Customers Will Become Brand Advocates

There is a perception that the costs and administration outweigh the benefits — this is despite the various affordable solutions available that support businesses of all sizes, ranging from a five-man executive team business to a 100+ strong employee base.

A new generation of retirement fund models, such as Umbrella Funds (multi-employer retirement funds), have dramatically lowered the ‘burden’ to employers and decreased costs thanks to the economy of scale created by group participation.

To further support SMEs in delivering tangible benefits of retirement provision, professional employee benefit consultants are also available at a minimal fee to provide support, appropriate advice, education and communication tools.

When implementing an employee benefit structure, there are three aspects to consider:

1How the retirement provision will be funded

SME decision-makers need to consider whether the business will contribute toward employees’ savings fully, partially or only manage the administration thereof.

While the introduction of enabling retirement saving will ensure positive outcomes for staff, debt-burdened staff may struggle financially should they experience a dramatic decrease in take-home pay in favour of contributing to long-term retirement savings.

To avoid such an instance, decision-makers could consider using a percentage of their staff’s annual increase to fund retirement provision before they grow accustomed to an increase in salary. Other options that have often worked for a mixed workforce (blue- and white-collar workers), is a ‘like-for-like’ funding model where the employer matches the contribution made by the employee.

Related: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

2Levels of flexibility required by staff and associated costs

By limiting choices available to low-income employees (who tend to rely on their employer to make responsible financial decisions on their behalf), administrative costs can be reduced, passing on more value to employees.

White-collar workers, however, generally want more flexibility and control over their investments. A good retention strategy for companies employing highly skilled workers is to offer staff some control over their contribution level, investment choice and risk benefits.

Another option, often implemented in a mixed workplace, is purchasing advanced payroll software that allows staff to individually tailor their contribution level. The initial costs associated with this offering can offset the degree of flexibility required to encourage positive relations with all profiles of employees.

3Are your staff investment-savvy and what level of support is required?

White-collar workers tend to have greater levels of formal education and are in a better position to take responsibility for their own retirement provisions. Often highly digitally connected, these employees have sufficient access to information required to make good decisions. However, when needing assistance, they generally demand immediate individual attention.

Blue-collar employees generally display higher rates of consumer vulnerability. With limited access to the Internet, they rely on the fiduciary duty of trustees and decision-makers to make good decisions on their behalf.

Related: 10 Traits Of Managers Whose Teams Are Happy To Come To Work

In a workplace with both white- and blue-collar workers, hands-on seminars and workshops should be facilitated by trained employee benefit consultants to bridge the gap in education and financial confidence.

When making these decisions, it can be beneficial to seek expert advice. Employee benefit consultants can assist in advising on the best structure for a specific business or workforce — one which not only delivers positive retirement outcomes for its staff, but also delivers on long-term strategic goals for their business.

Old Mutual is a Licensed Financial Services Provider.

Old Mutual offers investment products, life and disability cover, funeral plans, short term insurance, financial advice and loans. We also offer business-to-business solutions such as asset management, employee benefits and insurance for your business.

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How Lexus Is Emphasising Quality And Taking Craftsmanship To New Heights

The seventh generation Lexus ES is crafted to the last millimeter and is the essence of comfort​.

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The seventh generation Lexus ES ushers in an era of performance, mirrored by design that stirs the soul. The exceptional body rigidity allows for incredible design freedom, resulting in design that has the confidence to stand out. The brave new design that is lower, wider and sleeker, giving this sedan a coupé-like silhouette.

The 2018 Lexus ES range has no space for mediocrity – every vehicle excels and provokes. The petrol ES 250 EX and hybrid ES 300H SE set a standard of excellence with unparalleled levels of sophistication, elegance and performance. The Lexus ES range places all available performance in the driver’s hands for an intimate experience. It is performance that can be heard and felt.

The new Lexus ES has a profile that is impossible to ignore. The striking signature spindle grille is a significant feature, a sculpted form that speaks of inherited architecture and meticulous craftsmanship. It is the embodiment of provocative elegance, of finesse and sophistication.

Every curve builds from the grille. Athletic headlights flow from the spindle grille, emphasising the sleek lines of the three-dimensional front-end while tracing the outline of the lowered roofline.

The Lexus Takumi craftsmen embody the quest for perfection by carefully refining design elements. Boldness is balanced with elegance, and innovative design characteristics are made possible by the new chassis platform that allows the New Generation ES to be longer, wider and more spacious than ever before, but with a sleeker and lower silhouette. The fastback roofline captures the glamour of a coupé and emphasises the low stance, while the interior roominess is all premium sedan.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

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The meticulous attention to detail of the Lexus Takumi craftsmen is evident in every inch of the Lexus ES interior. In a physical manifestation of Omotenashi, the Japanese philosophy of warm hospitality where your every need is anticipated and catered for, the Lexus ES offers a personal comfort zone, an escape from the ordinary.

The ES seduces you with details such as embossed stitching on semi-aniline leather-trimmed* seating and real wood trim*. The door panels flow into the instrument console, creating a sense of spaciousness, and at the same time placing all controls of the navigation*, Multi-information and entertainment systems within your grasp, while all driving related functions, as well as those for communication, are controlled from the leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Define your own personal climate with automatic dual zone climate control. The innovative nanoe air-purifiers cleanse the air and moisturise your skin, which is why stepping out of the new Lexus ES, is just as invigorating as stepping into it.

For further individual comfort, the front seats of all ES models have adjustable lumbar support, with standard heated and ventilated seats.

At Lexus safety is of paramount importance, which is why the new Lexus ES features the most advanced passive and active safety and driver support systems available. This is the most technologically advanced Lexus ES ever, with traditional measures of comfort merged with cutting-edge technology for all-encompassing driving pleasure.

* Available on ES 300H only

Read next: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

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Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

Wits Plus

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Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

Wits Plus

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Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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