Author: Petre Voica

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Impact on the income tax savings on Salary Sacrifice schemes

As you may have seen in the press following the Autumn statement. The government has made a number of changes which will impact Income Tax savings on Salary Sacrifice schemes. These changes will impact both the Home Technology and Mobile phones schemes as outlined below.

Home Technology Scheme

The government is removing Income tax savings on this scheme from April 2018. Meaning that if you join the scheme now or before April 2017 you will benefit from any the ability to save some income tax on salary sacrifice until April 2018 so long as you return the product(s) at the end of the scheme. You will still retain employee national insurance savings which are not affected by the government changes.
In reality under the previous salary sacrifice legislation at the end of the scheme if you kept the product(s), income tax would have been paid in full to HMRC leaving National insurance savings. So as this is the route most employees take the impact of the autumn statement is less significant on this scheme.

Mobile Phone Scheme

The mobile phone scheme is more significantly affected by the governments autumn statement as income tax is currently saved in full on the total value of a single mobile phone provided for personal use. The government is removing Income tax savings on this scheme from April 2018. Meaning that if you join the scheme now or before April 2017 you will still benefit from the ability to save income tax on salary sacrifice until April 2018. (Up to approximately 16 months). You will still retain employee national insurance savings which are not affected by the government changes.
In summary you can continue to benefit from National insurance savings (12% standard rate taxpayers / 2% higher rate taxpayers) on these schemes. Income Tax savings will be removed on both schemes however if your signing up now you can still benefit from up to 16 months of Income tax savings as our schemes are run over 2 years. You will also benefit still from repaying your employer over 24 months from your salary and any upfront discounts provided on the products versus the high street.

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Benefits Shifts 2016: Technology as a workplace perk set for 161% growth

E: Free or subsidised technology via the workplace is set for explosive growth in 2016 and beyond according to a new report from the Reward & Employee Benefits Association, REBA.

The report suggests that in 2015 just under a quarter (23%) of respondents offered free or subsidised home technology to employees but that this figure will nearly double in 2016 to 42%, and will then continue on an increasingly upward path.

Much of the growth in the market will come from the salary sacrifice model with the number of respondents offering home technology through the salary sacrifice model expected to rise by 161.5% over the next few years.

The discounts on home technology are adding to voluntary benefits schemes that already include discounts on the likes of leisure discounts or vouchers, subsidised gym memberships and product discounts or vouchers.

“While the latter take care of the health and wellbeing of employees the rising trend of discounted home technology is also a factor of employers helping their employees achieve better work/life balances,” said Debi O’Donovan, partner at REBA. “By helping their employees purchase new technology for the home employers are able to assist staff to work more flexibly whilst away from the office.”

The falling cost of such technology – as well as the fact that home technology such as PCs, laptops and tablets are amongst the most requested benefits from employees – is also making them a more attractive option than ever, said O’Donovan.

See the full breakdown of additional perks offered via employee-paid channels bydownloading the REBA/JLT Employee Benefits Shifts Research 2016.

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The advantages of BYOD

Summary: BYOD policies have benefits for both staff and employers when they are rolled out effectively.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has been a growing trend for businesses who are looking to keep costs down while making sure employees are happy.

To make sure these schemes are successful, a strong policy needs to be in place that makes it clear what the company expects from staff using their own devices and how workers will be supported.

BYOD – which allows employees to use their own PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices – must be fully understood and embraced by both parties for all of the associated advantages to be realised.

Here is an overview of some of the biggest benefits attached to a successful BYOD policy.

Lower costs for the business

The biggest, and most obvious, advantage of BYOD for employers is the savings it can make, as it won’t have to shell out for as much equipment. The operating costs of tech are also transferred to the user, such as updating software, breakages and waste. Employees are also more likely to treat their own stuff with better care compared to company-owned devices.

Familiarity with tech

While lower costs are the top benefit for employers, being familiar with the technology they are using are the biggest advantage for staff. As they use their devices in their personal lives, employees are likely to know their tablet, PC or laptop like the back of their hands. If a worker is used to one operating system at home, such as that installed on a Macbook, it may take time for them to get used to another like Windows. This can also be irritating and demotivating if they struggle to get their heads around it. BYOD removes this issue completely and allows staff to use a device to suits them and meets their needs.

Flexibility

BYOD policies also offer unrivalled flexibility to employees, as they can work from anywhere – whether that’s at home, at a coffee shop or even from a beach! Allowing staff to use their own device means they are restricted to working in an office, which may not be the best environment for everyone, leading to lower levels of productivity. Employers feel much freer, which boosts satisfaction and means staff are less likely to look to other companies for greener pastures.

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Attracting top talent through reward schemes

Summary: Tech reward schemes can help both the public and private sectors attract the best candidates for available vacancies.

A business is able to flourish and grow because of the strength of its workforce, which means employing the industry’s top talent can make all the difference. Attracting such candidates isn’t always easy, especially when an organisation has been forced to tighten its purse strings.

While a healthy salary is obviously a big draw for candidates, the other perks a business can offer can make the overall package more appealing when compared to what a competitor has put on the table.

These extras don’t have to be extravagant or cost an organisation a small fortune, as they can be as simple as providing free fruit to employees at work or supporting salary-sacrifice schemes like ‘bike-to-work’ and tech rewards programmes. Whatever a business decides to offer, it will send a clear message to candidates that the firm has a vested interest in its employees’ happiness and wellbeing.

Perks like these are just as effective in the public sector as they are in its private counterpart.

Here’s why:

Public sector In this year’s Budget, unveiled on July 8th, it was announced that those working in the public sector will face another four-year pay freeze. This, when combined with the other measures announced, will save the government £17 billion, according to chancellor George Osborne.

Public sector pay rises will now be capped at one per cent a year until 2019, which has been met with criticism from unions representing workers in the industry. However, there are still job vacancies to fill, so it’s vital that department leaders think outside the box when thinking of ways to entice the highest calibre of candidates.

Commenting on the success of a discounted shopping scheme offered to staff, Colin Miller, reward manager for Kent County Council, told Personnel Today: “If they engage with those rewards that work particularly for them, they are likely to feel more engaged with their employer and go that extra mile in terms of service delivery.

If money is tight, it makes it all the more important to make sure people are getting as much benefit as possible from whatever’s in the employment package.

Tech reward schemes prove to be incredibly popular with employees, as it gives them the opportunity to purchase the gadgets they want – including laptops, tablets, smartphones and cameras – at discounted prices through their employer. This opens the potential of enabling “Bring your own Device” schemes where employees can use their own preferred device instead of the old corporate laptop. It also provides an opportunity for employees to get the latest technology at home at a discounted rate with repayment from salary over 24 months.

Private sector

There is currently a well-publicised skills shortage in the private sector, where many vacancies are going unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates applying for positions – meaning that that applicants have the upper hand.

A study undertaken by the Confederation of British Industry and Pearson revealed that two in three businesses predict that they will need more employees with a higher level of skill in the next few years, but 55 per cent worry that they may not be able to recruit these individuals.

Companies in the private sector are able to offer bigger salaries than their public counterparts, which means they need to think of how they can make their business stand out from the crowd to potential employees. To do this, an organisation must consider what candidates, as well as existing workers, would want in addition to holidays and their wages.

Tech benefit schemes also tick both of these boxes, as it is an attractive bonus for potential employees, while also something that rewards the hard work done by the current workforce. They are given the freedom to purchase gadgets that can be used in their professional and personal lives, adding value to both.

Benefits to the employer

The biggest advantage to the business or organisation is the cost savings, as the money spent supporting these types of programmes is vastly cheaper than paying staff a bigger salary – something that isn’t always an option. Secondly, tech reward schemes are incredibly attractive to candidates, as we are living in a world that is becoming more digital with each passing day. Being able to buy discounted tablets, laptops, smartphones and other devices helps employees keep up with a changing environment, without breaking the bank.

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BYOD ‘linked to increased productivity’

Summary: BYOD policies can help boost employee satisfaction and improve productivity.

All organisations, whether big or small, are keen to keep employees happy, as this has a positive knock-on effect on productivity, helping to boost businesses and drive growth. Workers that are content are also less likely to want to move to another firm, meaning it’s a worthwhile endeavour to find out what keeps staff satisfied.

While sometimes businesses may find it hard to come up with an answer that suits all to the question ‘how do I motivate my employees?’, there is a solution that will help to boost morale in the workforce and drive productivity: bring-you-own-device (BYOD) schemes.

It may seem like it is on overly-simplistic idea, but such programmes have a proven track record, with a report from multinational technology company Cisco revealing that BYOD employees gain 37 minutes of productive time per week and implementation of such schemes generate $350 (£223.89) per staff member every year.

The study – which polled 2,415 mobile workers across 18 industries and six countries – claimed that a comprehensive BYOD policy has the potential to boost the value of each mobile worker to by $1,650, a significant sum of money for any organisation irrespective of its size.

BYOD schemes, especially promoted through tech reward programmes that allow employees to pick up gadgets at discounted prices, offers workers the chance to use the technology that they love to carry out work related to their jobs. If an employee is allowed to use their own laptop that they’ve personalised rather than a bog-standard corporate-owned one, they are more likely to be responsive.

Here’s a brief overview of how BYOD can boost productivity for a business.

BYOD saves money

The most obvious benefit of these schemes is that the cost of providing technology shifts from the employer to the employee. While many workers are already likely to own a suitable device to carry out their duties, BYOD becomes an even more attractive proposition if it’s tied into a scheme where staff can get their hands on the latest tech for discounted prices, especially if the reward programme isn’t limited to laptops. The cost of hardware, data and other IT-related services moves away from the company, allowing it to invest elsewhere. A report from the Good Technology State of BYOD Report reveals that 50 per cent of organisations with such a scheme require employees to cover costs, which they are more than happy to do in many cases. The alternative is for the employer to part fund the device(s).

BYOD boosts employee satisfaction

Employees who are able to use the brands and devices they love and are used to using on a daily basis are more comfortable and happy compared to those who have to use technology that has been issued by the firm’s IT department. Research from software and consulting company Avanda reveals that two-fifths (37 per cent) of organisations embracing BYOD are more likely to report improved satisfaction among their workforce, in addition to a greater focus on “creativity and greater ability to solve problems”.

BYOD leads to employees working more

A survey from BMC Software survey notes that employees using their own technology to carry out duties attached to their job are likely to work two extra hours and send 20 additional emails per day compared to their counterparts using company-owned devices. Furthermore, the study found that one in three BYOD workers checked their emails between 06:00 and 07:00, while one in four checked then between 23:00 and 00:00.

BYOD helps business attract and retain top talent

BYOD programmes are a great recruitment and retention tool, as potential candidates will be keen to work for a company that allows them to use their gadgets, as they are already familiar with them and will not need to learn how to use different technology.

Brandon Hampton, a founding director of Mobi Wireless Management, a software and services provider advising Fortune 100 companies on wireless strategies, told CIO.com: “The way to give the greatest choice is through a BYOD programme. This can be good for industries that are very competitive for the brightest employees, such as law firms. It’s an extra perk.”

Technology ‘could be the key to boosting employee wellbeing’

E: Technology reward schemes can be used by businesses to boost wellbeing among employees, subsequently improving productivity.

In a market where there are few qualified candidates available for a glut of vacancies, businesses need to ensure they are doing everything they can to attract new talent and keep current employees from seeing if the grass is greener somewhere else.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to create a working environment that focuses on the wellbeing and happiness of staff. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), promoting a culture that improved the health and welfare of employees demonstrates good management and leads to a healthy and productive workplace.

Research from the organisation reveals that this type of environment benefits not only employees but businesses as well, as it reduces the occurrence of workplace-illness – something that leads to around 27 million lost working days per year and costs the economy an enormous £13.4 billion annually.

Commenting on NICE’s report, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Health-promoting workplaces are obviously good for millions of employees and ultimately for taxpayers too, so the time is right for all employers – including the NHS – to raise our game.”

The report recommends that business try and think of new and innovative ways to keep their workforce happy, something that technology could help organisations to achieve.

Technology has evolved drastically over the last decade, growing from something that lingered at the periphery of life to something that modern life revolves around. There is now a gadget or app designed to assist almost every part of our existence, from tablets that let people hold the power of a computer in their hands on a small and portable device, to fridges that can alert owners to when the milk is low.

Businesses should consider how technology can play a part in keeping employees happy and healthy, and explore methods of helping staff get their hands on the latest gadgets. Reward schemes that provide workers with the opportunity of accessing the most up-to-date devices can help to boost staff wellbeing, which in turn help the business as productivity is likely to improve.

Schemes that are limited to technology specifically for work, such as those allowing workers to purchase laptops only, are probably not going to have the same positive impact as those that provide employees with the chance of buying whatever gadgets they like, such as tablets, smartphones, exercise trackers and cameras, among many others.

These devices give staff the chance to use apps that have been designed specifically to boost health and wellbeing, like MyFitness Pal a free nutrition and fitness tracking website and app suite that has been downloaded more than 40 million times, and RunKeeper, which is used by 22.5 million people across the globe to track their progress when hitting the pavement or treadmill.

There are also apps that focus on mental wellbeing, such as Headspace, which helps users find ten minutes a day to manage the thoughts whizzing around their heads and realise that they are simply thoughts and nothing to worry about.

Wellbeing is not just limited to apps when it comes to technology, as there are now wearable devices that can help people record their heart rates, count their steps to achieve a daily goal and even monitor sleeping patterns to see if the user is getting enough during the night.

Writing for the Guardian, Tom Kelshaw, director of technology at media agency Maxus’ research and development, explained that the latest technology on offer signifies “a movement that is looking beyond fitness to more holistic health and wellness”, which a business could easily tap into to boost wellbeing among its employees.

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