What if your employees were 100-percent engaged at work? 

3 cost-effective ways to boost employee engagement

Voice-Mar2012-game-of-ee-engagement.jpgWhat if your employees were 100-percent engaged at work?
With 71 percent of employees "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" at the end of 2011, according to Gallup, most companies can only dream of such a workforce. But with 6 percent of net profits at stake for disengaged companies, according to Towers Watson, employee engagement has become a major business issue.

"Engaged employees are more productive, profitable and customer-focused, and even inspire more innovation than less engaged workers," said Charles Daye, senior vice president of HR for Ceridian U.S. "That's why most HR executives have named engagement as a top priority for 2012."

According to Daye, exploring cost-effective, easy-to-implement HR technology solutions is a great place to start improving employee engagement in today's economy. Three of these solutions in particular should be added to every HR executive's to-do list this year.

1. Go beyond direct deposit with payroll cards

While many companies offer direct deposit as a convenient, electronic payment option, they may not be meeting the unique needs of employees who can't or don't want to use banking services. Payroll cards can help the 80 million U.S. consumers who, according to the Federal Reserve, have little to no access to a checking account and collectively spend $1.5 billion on check-cashing services each year.

"When employers use payroll cards and direct deposit to achieve a 100-percent electronic pay environment, we find that on average 30 percent of employees previously receiving paper checks elect payroll cards"
— Carole Ford, VP, Debit Corporate Payments, Comdata

A recent Ceridian poll found that 34 percent of organizations still have 25 percent or more employees receiving paper checks. There's a good chance that many of those employees would choose payroll cards given the option.

"When employers use payroll cards and direct deposit to achieve a 100-percent electronic pay environment, we find that on average 30 percent of employees previously receiving paper checks elect payrollcards," said Carole Ford, vice president of debit corporate payments at Comdata, Ceridian's paycard subsidiary. Currently, 25 states allow employers to eliminate paper paychecks and offer only electronic payment options to all employees, and three more that allow this for new or recent hires.

Through automatic loading of employees' earnings each payday and convenient access to funds via ATMs, stores and online merchants, payroll cards give employees the benefits of a debit card without the need for a bank. "Our employees love payroll cards because they can go online and see their balance," said Julie Heffner, payroll manager at Cleaver-Brooks, a Ceridian paycard customer. "It can be used at Wal-Mart, grocery stores and just about any other kind of retail outlet."

By eliminating the need for expensive check-cashing services and money orders, payroll cards are essentially a 7-percent to 10-percent raise for employees without a bank account — one that costs nothing to the employer.

Amid rising bank fees, payroll cards are also becoming an attractive option even for employees with access to banking services. While many banks now charge a monthly fee to simply use a debit card for purchases, payroll cards only charge fees when consumers fail to follow the best practices that many paycard vendors will teach them directly. And, since funds can be split between direct deposit, paycard and check options, employees can also use them to set aside money for vacations, large purchases or their child's allowance.

2. Give employees more control with self-service

Forty-five percent of companies are spending some of their budget on employee and manager self-service, according to a recent CedarCrestone survey. With everything from smartphones to Netflix giving consumers more independence, it makes sense that employees want control over their HR information.

Companies with best-in-class workforce scheduling report an average 23 percent higher employee engagement.
— Aberdeen Group

Today, HR self-service allows employees to go beyond simply viewing paystubs to taking major actions such as enrolling in benefits, adjusting their payroll preferences and managing their shift schedule, often from anywhere on their mobile devices. "Employees like having the ownership," said Betty Rifford, corporate payroll coordinator for Huhtamaki Americas, Inc., a Ceridian self-service customer.

Companies with best-in-class workforce scheduling in particular report an average 23 percent higher employee engagement, according to Aberdeen Group. "Workforce management tools significantly decrease the time managers spend on administrative tasks, and help them better track and recognize employee performance," Daye said. "This gives managers more time to lead people, build trust and foster engagement."

3. Show employees how valuable they are to the company with total compensation statements

Total compensation statements, which show an itemized, easy-to-understand view of cash and non-cash compensation, are a low-cost way to offset reduced raises and perks by helping employees understand their true worth to the company and appreciate the value of their company-sponsored benefits.

"Simply handing employees a breakdown of their full compensation package improves their perception of their employment, and gets them thinking about whether or not competing offers would be financially comparable in the end."
— Lydia Ophaug, Sr. Product Manager, Health & Welfare, Ceridian U.S.

"Employees don't typically understand how much the company is investing in their health care, retirement benefits and other non-salary compensation," said Lydia Ophaug, Ceridian's senior product manager for Health & Welfare. "Simply handing them a breakdown of their full compensation package improves their perception of their employment, and gets them thinking about whether or not competing offers would be financially comparable in the end."

Today's best total compensation solutions leverage an online portal that allows employees to access updated statements throughout the year. Many provide calculators and modeling tools enabling employees to take control of own personal wealth. Some can also send automated messages to employees enticing them to participate in other benefit offerings by showing them the specific savings they could have had the previous year. For example, a message might say, "You could have earned $126.54 in matched funds this year by enrolling in the company's 401(k) plan." These advanced features help to continuously remind employees of the value of their employment to foster loyalty.

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