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The importance of employee happiness for retention: Why it matters and how to achieve it

E: In the current jobs market, businesses are finding it hard to source people with the right skills to fill vacancies, which means it’s more important than ever to keep existing employees happy.

In the current jobs climate, where many organisations are plagued with a shortage of skilled workers, it is important to take care of existing employees’ happiness and wellbeing – as content staff members are less likely to look for pastures new compared to their dejected counterparts.

According to the latest Resource and Talent Planning report from Hays and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), retaining talent has become increasingly challenging for organisations in the UK. Of the 462 respondents polled, just one-fifth (22 per cent) reported that they had no retention difficulties in 2013, compared to 34 per cent in 2012.

The results reveal that managers and specialists are the most difficult type of employee to keep, particularly in the public sector, as 60 per cent of participants here reported difficulties in retaining workers versus 40 per cent in 2012, indicating that the situation is worsening rather than improving.

Despite the challenging environment for organisations, one in five admitted that they hadn’t implemented any specific initiatives to rectify the issue. CIPD and Hays believe that the focus on retention dropped away in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008 and hasn’t been climbing back up at a quick enough pace.

The skills shortage means that the situation is likely to become more challenging for employers when it comes to retaining staff, as some employees will realise that they are in high demand, which could encourage them to jump ship and join a new firm.

This means it is now more important than ever to take charge of keeping staff happy and take care of their wellbeing.

Organisations can do this in many ways and it doesn’t always involve grand gestures or financial rewards. Often, a few kind words of encouragement or positive feedback on a project can be enough to keep an employee content and motivated.

Here are some of the things an employer can do to keep its workforce feeling happy and fulfilled.


Flexible working

The standard 9-to-5 working structure may not work for everyone for a variety of reasons, such as childcare and caring for a family member. Being flexible and offering employees the opportunity to set their own pattern to some degree allows them to feel like they are more in control of their work-life balance.

Research from Lloyds Commercial Banking reveals that more than two-thirds of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK offer flexible working, such as adjusted hours and working from home. David Oldfield, managing director of SME and mid-markets banking at Lloyds Banking Group, believes flexible working is crucial in creating a happy and dynamic workforce, as it was found to boost morale, help employees better meet customer demand and improve productivity.


Employee benefits

One of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping staff happy is to reward hard work and praise them when they deserve it. Employee benefit schemes are a great way to do this, such as a salary sacrifice programme that allows staff to get something they want at a cheaper price than they would find elsewhere. Those involving technology prove to be particularly successful, as employees can get their hands on the latest gadgets and devices at more appealing prices.

Employee reward schemes that involve technology are a win for both the employer and worker, as the former gets happy staff and the latter gets to access the latest gadgets at a much cheaper price than they would find on the high street. The devices can also be utilised for personal use, meaning the reward doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to work.

According to Motivation Matters, cash incentives can cost up to six times as much as their non-cash counterparts and not be as effective. The firm also believes that cash rewards lose their value over time, as once the money is spent, it’s gone for good.


Face-to-face time

While it’s incredibly important for an organisation to build brand loyalty among its customers, it’s also vital that it nurtures the same kind of environment internally. This can only be done if employees can interact with management – if this isn’t done, a business risks becoming faceless, leading workers to remove themselves from the corporate identity. Emails and conference calls are a convenient method of communication with employees, but an effort must be made to schedule face-to-face time.

Ramesh Tainwala, chief executive officer of luggage maker Samonite International SA, told the Wall Street Journal that getting together with employees is important and other forms of communication, including video conferencing, can’t make up for it. He said: “A conference call cannot substitute for face-to-face interactions. When we meet in person, we almost hear each other’s thoughts.”

Meeting staff in person is the perfect time to pass on praise, discuss improvements that need to be made and open the floor for employees to air their grievances.


Every little helps

In a market that’s working against employers, it’s important that businesses do all they can to keep existing talent just where it is. Whether it’s done by changing the way the company works, by improving management or by offering additional benefits, it’s important that an organisation has a plan in place to stop the best employees from looking for greener pastures.




Attracting and retaining employees with tech rewards schemes

At a time where some employees’ skills are highly sought-after, technology reward schemes could be the key to keeping staff and attracting new talent.

The UK is currently on the verge of a skills shortage, which means that in some industries it’s an employee’s market rather than an employer’s. Those who possess in-demand expertise are able to choose from a wide range of businesses when looking for a new job and will be able to weigh up the benefits of firms against each other.

A report from jobs website Adzuna reveals that in 32 out of 50 major cities in the UK, there are more advertised job vacancies than there are people seeking employment, with there being 77 jobseekers for every 100 available roles – a stark contrast to the 139 jobseekers for every 100 vacancies last year.

Commenting on the skills shortage, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said:

“It’s imperative that the new government gets to grips with skills shortages because a jobs crisis is looming. Recruiters are doing a great job at getting more and more people into work, but four in ten of those recruiters say that the availability of candidates is getting worse each month.”

“Shortages are a serious threat to long-term sustainability for organisations within both the private and the public sector.”

This means that organisations must find ways of standing out from the crowd when it comes to attracting new talent, while also keeping current staff members happy so they won’t jump ship and find alternative employment.

There are many different incentives and employee reward schemes that a business can use to retain and attract employees, all of which have varying degrees of success when meeting this objective.

Any initiative chosen must align with the firm’s goals at a strategic level and it has to be an attractive proposition to potential staff members and existing ones, otherwise it could turn out to be a waste of time and money – both of which many businesses can’t afford to lose. The selected scheme must also be affordable for the worker and the business, as well as being easy to manage.

Many of the most successful types of employee reward schemes involve technology, as staff are able to access the latest computers, tablets and other devices – something they may not be able to afford without the help of their employer, as the cost for an individual can be significant.

Why are these type of incentives so popular among existing staff and how could they help an organisation attract new talent?


Lower costs

While many technology reward schemes are based on a salary sacrifice framework – where the employee pays out of their wages every month for a set period of time – the price they would pay overall is significantly lower than it would be if they had purchased the device themselves on the high street. In addition, the cost is less of a financial burden as it is spread over a specified period of time and is taken from their pay packets.


Wide choice

Some companies that provide the technology for these initiatives allow employees to choose from a vast assortment of gadgets and devices, such as tablets, games consoles, cameras and smart TVs, rather than just technology that is meant specifically for the workplace, like laptops and computers. Staff are more likely to be interested in something that is purely for enjoyment, rather than something that is linked to carrying out their duties at work.



Technology reward schemes are particularly successful because they can be perceived by employees as recognition for the hard work undertaken by staff, as well as being seen as the employer providing extra support to its staff.


Deal breaker

For potential new employees, initiatives such as these could be the thing that sways the decision to apply for and accept a role within an organisation, particularly if all the jobs an individual is able to choose between have similar salaries, holiday entitlements and pensions.



Almost three-quarters of firms now embracing BYOD

Summary: Bring your own device policies come with wide-ranging benefits for both employers and workers alike.

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are being embraced by more organisations than ever, with almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of businesses now using such programmes, according to a survey from Tech Pro Research.

Back in 2013 the response to the same poll showed that just 62 per cent of businesses felt positively about BYOD – indicating that many firms are now realising the multiple benefits attached to these policies, both for the employer and employees.

Of those surveyed this year, 60 per cent already allowed the use of personal devices for work purposes, such as connecting to the company network, while one in ten (14 per cent) said they have plans to launch a BYOD policy within the next 12 months. Just 26 per cent of those surveyed admitted they didn’t intend to introduce the programme in their organisations.

When breaking down the data by the size of the respondents’ organisations. Those from firms with 50 to 249 members of staff were most likely to embrace BYOD, with almost three-quarters (71 per cent) allowing the use of personal devices to view corporate information, while 61 per cent of those with fewer than 50 employees permitted this.

Some 57 per cent of respondents from businesses with 250 to 999 workers and 54 per cent from those with more than 1,000 employees sanction BYOD – demonstrating that organisations of all sizes appear to understand the benefits of allowing their workers to use their own gadgets.

These figures appear to concur with a study produced by technology research and advisory firm Gartner back in 2013 – a time when BYOD was emerging as a cutting-edge trend. The report predicted that such programmes would become more commonplace in organisations, forecasting that half of all businesses will require employees to use their own devices for work reasons by 2017.

Back then, David Willis, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said: “BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decade.

“The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs.”

BYOD’s advantages are far-reaching, for both a business and its employees, with the former able to make gains from not having to purchase equipment and the latter able to use the technology that they know and love, which could lead to a boost in morale and productivity.

Pairing this type of policy with a salary sacrifice scheme that allows staff members to purchase the most up-to-date technology – even gadgets that won’t be used for work, such as games consoles and cameras – is a natural progression. Organisations can reward their employees in a manner that is advantageous for themselves, while staff can purchase goods they desire at a cheaper rate than on the high street.


Academia Group are a Deloitte Fast 50 Winner!

Academia join the Deloitte Fast 50 again in 2014

London, November 21st, 2014: IT value-added reseller, Academia Group, today announces its ranking in the Deloitte 2014 UK Technology Fast 50 list for the 3rd year.

The Fast 50 list has recognised Academia Group as one of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the UK since 2011.

Mike Bacon, founder & managing director said,

“Everyone at Academia is delighted to be placed in the Deloitte 2014 UK Fast 50 and for a 3rd year to boot! It’s recognition of our hard work and client satisfaction. Known for our strength in education, our emerging markets of commercial and employee benefits have been very successful for us and we’re excited about the time ahead. Consistent growth shows that we’re offering clients what they need in multiple markets. I’m very proud of our team, our long-timers and our newest recruits that arrive every month! We’re also obviously thankful to our clients for their continued support.”

But the group has very ambitious growth plans so watch out for more. Bacon added,

“Our aim is to become a £100m group through acquisition and organic growth. We have grown our commercial & public sector businesses by investing in our own data centre. This allows us to offer a total managed service including Internet provision (Academia ISP), a cloud solution (Academia Cloud) and an ever-growing team of technical support engineers enabling clients to have their own outsourced IT department (Academia Care+). You can learn more about these new initiatives by visiting us at BETT 2015 next January.”

In order to achieve its growth targets, Academia is continuing to employ more staff to support an ever-increasing client base. The Enfield-based value-added reseller has a work hard, play hard environment, and this balance leads to the company having plenty of long-serving, dedicated employees motivated towards hitting the company’s goals. Academia runs a very successful graduate recruitment programme that provides graduates the skills and knowledge to further their career in the IT channel. For more information on the graduate programme and a list of current opportunities, please visit our careers page.

Mark Hotter, head of marketing & vendor relations said,

“Leading vendors recognise the growing opportunity with Academia and we have forged very successful relationships in the last few years with partners such as Apple, Adobe, Toshiba and Microsoft. New partners, including Samsung, Fujitsu, Dell and ShoreTel, have recognised us amongst the very fastest growing companies in the UK and are enjoying high levels of engagement with our extensive client base across our multiple routes to market. Exciting times ahead!”.

Deloitte AwardsAcademia Group is a fast growing, highly accredited, award-winning group of technology companies. Specialising in the supply of software, IT hardware, training and service solutions to the public sectors, commercial and pro media markets.

Established in 2003, we employ 100 dedicated professionals across multiple locations throughout the UK with a group annual turnover of £50m. We partner with the world’s leading technology manufacturers and have the accreditations, certifications and awards to demonstrate our expertise and ability.

Academia has rocked the UK tech industry placing in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 for the past 5 years and the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 for 3 years!

We operate under 4 core values: Teamwork, Integrity, Innovation and Ambition.

NWG: Smartphone Salary Sacrifice Scheme

EmployeeChoice NWG Smart Phone Case Study


The Client

NWG operates in the north east of England, where it trades as Northumbrian Water and in the south east of England, where it trades as Essex & Suffolk Water.

The company provides 4.5 million people with sustainable water and waste water services, and its vision is to be the leader within the water industry.

NWG is passionate about being firmly rooted within the communities it serves. This understanding of and commitment to those communities is demonstrated through initiatives such as the employee volunteering scheme, which allows employees at least 15 hours of paid work time per year to support local community initiatives.

NWG firmly believes that the well-being of employees is vital to create and maintain a productive and happy working environment.

This is demonstrated by the wide range of benefits available to employees such as this salary sacrifice phone scheme.

The Requirement

NWG regularly reviews its benefits provision to ensure a great offering to its employees.  The benefits package which included childcare vouchers and a salary sacrifice car scheme had already proved very popular.

The Smartphone scheme was highlighted as a benefit that would be attractive to its 3,000 staff. Furthermore, the two-year salary sacrifice arrangement provided substantial savings to the employee with higher rate taxpayers able to save 42% off the price of a phone with the tariff.

The Goal

NWG had two major aims in offering the benefit:

1. Provide substantial savings to the employee on a new handset and two year tariff

2. To stimulate continued interest in the benefits portfolio across all staff

As an employer, NWG also recognised the benefit of a 13.8% saving of Class 1A National Insurance Contributions on the total amount of salary sacrificed by staff enrolled in the scheme.

Scheme Delivery

Employee Choice, a leading technology benefits provider, offer a range of the latest handsets from manufacturers including Apple, Samsung, Blackberry, HTC, Sony and Nokia, which enabled employees to select their preferred handset when joining the scheme. The handsets are all supplied with a two-year tariff from EE, who were chosen due to their 4G network and excellent coverage throughout the UK.

All phone and tariff options are provided to employees via a dedicated ordering portal for selections to be made. This portal is open 24/7, all year round to ensure employees are able to join the scheme when their existing contracts come to an end. Tariff prices are comparable with the high street meaning the employee is able to recognise the full savings via the salary sacrifice arrangement.

Once orders are placed, the payroll team at NWG approve orders prior to any goods being despatched.


On a monthly basis NWG receive a bill from EE for the total number of employees enrolled in the scheme. The bill increases as new staff join the scheme but is always scheduled after the pay run to ensure the scheme effectively remains cash neutral at all times.

The Results

One of the major benefits in delivering the scheme has been the ease of administration. As a busy HR department, NWG rely on the provider handling employee queries and this has proven to be the case with Employee Choice. At the outset, employees were pleased at the savings available through the scheme with standard rate taxpayers saving 32% and higher rate saving 42%. This represents a substantial amount on a two-year tariff and makes a real difference to an employee’s outgoings.

Employees recognise that NWG is giving something tangible back to them and this increases morale.

Benefits Contracts & Payroll Manager, Neil Robson, said:

“Going forward we expect an increasing number of staff to utilise the scheme as more contracts come to an end. We also recognise that with data usage on the increase our employees are likely to find the range offered increasingly attractive.”

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HealthTrust Europe Salary Sacrifice Framework

HeathTrust Europe SSF

We have been successful in our bid to join the HealthTrust Europe Framework Agreement for the supply for IT equipment and mobile phones via salary sacrifice arrangements.

The award of the 2 year agreement is further recognition of our competitive price and quality of service. It also enables NHS Trusts or any other public sector body to utilise our services without the need to tender directly for each requirement.

HealthTrust Europe Beneficiaries continue to enjoy the benefits of Salary Sacrifice schemes as a method of supplying additional benefits to their employees. Previous Salary Sacrifice schemes have included Childcare Vouchers, Cycle to Work, Work Place Car Parking and Vehicle Leasing. Salary Sacrifice, as described by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), is a contractual arrangement whereby an employee gives up the right to receive part of their cash remuneration, usually in return for their employer’s agreement to provide some form of non-cash benefit.

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Employee Benefits Magazine predict Flexible Benefits growth

Employee Benefits

In a recent survey more than 55% of respondents predicted that flexible benefits schemes will become a key part of organisations’ employee value propositions (EVPs) going forward.

Flexible benefits include Salary Sacrifice Schemes such as Childcare Vouchers, Bikes to Work, Computer & Mobile phones. The figures showed that 16% of employers plan to add computers or tablets to their flex plan and 11% plan to add mobile phones as employers seek to diversify the Employee Value prop.

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Lisa Hack joins EmployeeChoice as Head of Channel Partnerships.

Lisa Hack

We are delighted to announce that Lisa Hack has joined the EmployeeChoice team as Head of Channel Partnerships. Lisa brings 10 years of experience in the employee benefits market having worked for a number of leading providers.

Lisa’s role is to take our Computer and Mobile Phone salary sacrifice schemes to market in partnership with employee benefit providers. She would be delighted to explain more about how our schemes work and the benefits we offer to a provider.

Lisa commented;

“Now is an exciting time to be joining the EmployeeChoice team. The parent company, Academia Group, have featured in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 fastest growing UK technology companies for the past 4 years which puts us in a great position to deliver both Computer and Mobile flex benefits. In addition, we are seeing a real growth in interest in these schemes as employers seek to strengthen their flexible benefits offering, and in some cases, looking at Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy.”

To find out more, please contact Lisa via

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