Posted on September 8, 2012
Filed Under Employment Branding | Comments Off
American Express is to introduce a back-up care service, open its voluntary benefits website to home access and host a series of events to coincide with National Work-Life Week from 24 to 28 September.
The back-up care service, which will be provided by Bright Horizons, will be promoted with information stands at the credit card firm’s four largest sites. Webinars and paper-based communications will also be provided to all 6,100 UK employees.
American Express has a number of different networks set up throughout the UK, including an Hispanic employee network called Ahora, and the parents and carers network called Pacs, which will be running events throughout the week.
Jonathan Sparham, benefits manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at American Express, said: “We have been working closely with the parents and careers network, which has about 400 employees, to start a rolling programme to get the message out to the smaller sites across the UK.”
“We are doing a lot of work internally to plant the work-life flag around the world,” said Sparham. “The idea is to bring together lots of benefits and programmes that support that work-life fit. It goes from maternity and paternity, to our discounts programme, to the networks, to our employee assistance programme (EAP) and childcare vouchers. The back-up care really fits in with that overall work-life mix.”
The firm is also opening home access for its voluntary benefits scheme, Smart Spending, which is provided by Asperity Employee Benefits. The scheme is already available in this way to the company’s 400 home-working staff.
Sparham added: “By moving to home access, employees will be able to use a home computer rather than just a work computer. It means that things like back-up care can be included, so staff can get the information at any time.”
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In the last few days the company has played the employee engagement card. American Express is deploying a cross-functional strategy to engage employees with their benefits.
The most successful employee benefits strategies are often a melting pot of ideas and concepts taken from other business areas, industries and disciplines. Sports psychology, for example, has long been extolled as providing valuable business lessons for the workplace.
Breckon Jones, director of benefits, health and wellness, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at American Express, explains: “A lot of the principles of sports psychology apply even more to the workplace. A common thread is around motivation: what motivates people, and what motivates people to make choices when it comes to benefits?
“What motivates people to do a good job, to work for a particular company, or to change their health behaviour? It’s the same for athletes, it’s the same for executives, it’s the same for anyone.”
This idea of cross-functionality and incorporating elements and ideas from one area into another resonates throughout American Express’ reward and benefits package. Its benefits team places a strong emphasis on working together to create a visible link between the benefits for which they are responsible. This enables the organisation to raise awareness of the benefits it provides and helps employees to see how different perks can be used in conjunction with each another to provide maximum advantage for employees.
Sarah Perkins,employee health and wellbeing manager at American Express, says: “The challenge is, while we have naturally engaged people, we are trying to be a bit more targeted and creative in how we target the disengaged people, so [we are] really trying to tap into different levels of motivation and interest. Any opportunity to talk about what we are doing, we will, whether it is related to benefits or other business elements.”
A series of financial education seminars American Express held in conjunction with the Money Advice Service between May and July, for example, included a section on the benefits available to employees. This covered its flexible benefits scheme, Flex Express, voluntary benefits plan, Smart Spending, and employee assistance programme (EAP), as well as an explanation of how employees can use these to make their money go further.
Hat tip to Employee benefits UK