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  • But employers and providers need to normalise use of EAPs and increase trust
  • Numbers of employees who value benefits has surged to 55% from 40% in two years                                                                                            

Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are an important driver of workplace wellness strategies – but employers and providers need to rethink how they message and communicate them, MetLife Employee Benefits believes.

It warns that focusing too much on the counselling aspects of EAPs creates a perception amongst employees that these are the main or only feature.  This in turn can prevent employees from engaging at the outset as, unless they feel they need counselling support at that time, they may not re-look at the other features in future.

A different approach, focusing on the positive aspects of physical, financial and mental wellness positions the services differently in the mind of employees, which in turn can help improve usage and therefore drive better return on investment.

When counselling services are needed, MetLife believes that actual usage is below the real level of need because of a lack of trust from employees who worry that HR departments and line managers can see who is using them.  In actual fact, usage is confidential.

MetLife’s research1 shows that rising uncertainty in the job market and the wider economy is increasing employees’ interest in benefits: 55% of employees now say they value their benefits compared with just 40% two years ago. The study found that 54% of employees would consider using EAPs.

Simple initiatives such as identifying ‘Wellness Champions’ among staff, involving line managers and looking at the bigger picture of wellness could also boost take-up.

Jo Elphick, Head of Marketing at MetLife UK, said: “EAPs are becoming a standard offering in UK companies but more can be done to maximise their value. We’ve seen that employees are really starting to value their benefits so we should seize the opportunity to review and enhance communications around this important benefit.”

MetLife’s data show that the impact of giving employees tools like EAPs can be significant when it comes to benefits for the employer: for every one per cent rise in employees feeling in control of their finances, for example, their engagement at work rises by 19%.

Feeling cared for by their employer is also a key driver of engagement amongst employees: every one per cent rise in feeling their employer cares for them delivers a 9% increase in engagement and this is even higher, at 12%, where employees feel they have a supportive manager.

Key insights from the full Employee Benefits Trends Study 2017 can be downloaded from HERE.


Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green



Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green 1

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell in Germany aims to produce aviation fuel and naphtha made from crops and to increase to commercial scale an electrolysis plant that makes fossil-free hydrogen, as it seek to move away from crude oil.

The energy major told an online conference on Friday it had applied for subsidies to carry out the work from the European Union and from German funds earmarked for decarbonisation. It did not give detail on the expected cost.

The global Shell group has set itself a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

At Wesseling, part of the Rheinland refinery complex, it plans to use green electricity to produce synthetic, carbon-free, power-to-liquids (ptl) to replace its conventional jet fuel and naphtha output, building a ptl plant from 2023 and starting production in 2025.

The ptl plant can also use wood as biomass input.

Hydrogen is also considered a green fuel when electricity from renewable energy is used in its production.

Shell said last September it will set up offshore wind farms to provide power and on Friday it said it could also start building a 100 MW electrolysis plant, to be called Refhyne II, from 2022, scaling up from a 10 megawatt plant.

“The product portfolio of the location clearly must change,” said Fabian Ziegler, head of Shell Deutschland.

To further the shift to clean transport in Germany, Shell also plans to equip petrol filling stations with electric car charging points.

Shell is already the owner of German solar battery maker sonnen. On Thursday, it said it has agreed to buy Cologne-based virtual power plant (VPP) operator Next Kraftwerke, Germany’s biggest VPP.

Next aggregates wind and biogas power production and markets it in balancing markets, which can help offset the unpredictable flows associated with renewable output.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Barbara Lewis)

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Why digital must be at the top of a retailer’s strategy



Why digital must be at the top of a retailer's strategy 2

By Chris Burnside, Account Manager, Specialty Retail, UK & Nordics Global Sales & Verticals, Worldline

COVID-19 is constantly shifting consumer shopping habits from on-site to online, meaning that eCommerce is becoming the main driver of physical retailers’ strategies. Changes in demographics, innovations in payments, and evolving customer needs, as well as the current social isolation that the nation is dealing with are all shaping the retail sector of today.

Online shopping, price-comparison search engines, online coupons and cashback deals have created a new breed of consumers. These shoppers are smart, tech-savvy, hungry for deals and conduct their own research before making purchases. However, these connected customers tend to be bigger shoppers and might potentially become lifelong advocates (including via social media) to bring in more following for a specific brand.

Therefore, retailers must be well prepared to survive in these lucrative, yet challenging times as online purchases surge and consumers demand a way of paying for goods online.

Changing customer expectations

Today’s customers are becoming increasingly more omnichannel in the way they shop and expect to be dazzled by interactivity and connected services, while retaining the simplicity and seamlessness of payments. These shoppers also expect on-site shopping to allow them to mix online and in-store purchases, pick-up of purchased goods, and transparent refund and return policies.

Some retailers might ask what the benefits are of bringing in such demanding customers. However, these types of shoppers can increase a retailer’s profits substantially as they have been proven to deliver a higher value purchase track record compared to regular or smaller ticket item shoppers.

If any physical retailers are in doubt, they should simply consider the benefits that go along with becoming connected and offering their goods online. Firstly, online shopping offers a greater variety of ways to target individuals’ needs, from targeted ads and special occasions coupons to personalised gifts for shoppers that drives sales and generates new and returning customers.

The surging power of online

Chris Burnside

Chris Burnside

The other massive benefit is the ability to offer more online. Online is increasingly what more and more customers today are looking for. As more purchases are made online, brands must be mindful that physical retail space is getting increasingly more expensive, especially in top locations. Therefore, with an eCommerce model, businesses can choose a central warehouse located outside the city.

Another vital perk of going digital is the potential to establish direct engagement with your audience via social media. According to research by Facebook, more than 80% of people use Instagram to research their potential purchases and discover new trends and products.

When entering the world of eCommerce there are several challenges that retailers must plan for. These include, online fraud, a lack of local payment methods, no direct support for clients in case of issues or questions, lower authorisation rates and potential IT issues. However, a reliable partner can help mitigate these risks and help retailers to effectively design the registration flow and the checkout experience to retain paying customers and limit fraudsters’ activities.

Such providers have in-store solutions that provide a unified and safe payment flow that immerses and connects the buyer and the seller in this financial journey. It constitutes a set of comprehensive hardware and software-based solutions to open up retailers to more customers and boost their sales and conversion levels. Bridging the gap between online and physical stores by introducing digital kiosks, touch screens and VR experiences to POS transform the shops of today into the shops of the future.

The value of strong acquiring capabilities

Alongside omnichannel, it cannot be underestimated the importance of also offering effective, fast, and reliable acquiring services that are tailored to retailers needs based on regions and their risk appetite. It means the capacity to implement smart routing and switching to effectively optimise authorisation levels.

When offering their products globally, retailers must also consider the importance of having a well-thought out set of local payment methods. This is because one of the major differences between physical retail and online shopping is that once in the shop, customers are likely to pay for the products they really want whether by card or cash. Online sales, especially on local markets can be more complex. This is because they will typically choose a specific local payment method that they are accustomed to, such as BLIK in Poland, Sofort in Germany or iDEAL in the Netherlands. By not offering these, it can be a deal-breaker causing people to drop sales and search for stores that have these options at checkout.

The right acquiring capabilities, by having a global presence and massive knowledge base, can offer pre-implementation support to retail owners and guide them through the implementation process itself. Therefore, with a massive infrastructure and immense experience in the payments industry behind them, the right providers have the capacity to serve customers around the world and provide a seamless payment experience of the future, right here and right now.

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British insurer RSA profit rises ahead of takeover



British insurer RSA profit rises ahead of takeover 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British insurer RSA’s 2020 operating profit rose 15% to 751 million pounds ($1.05 billion), it said on Friday, ahead of an anticipated takeover by Denmark’s Tryg and Canada’s Intact Financial.

The car, home and commercial insurer said strong underwriting discipline had helped its performance.

RSA started life in 1706 and is best known in Britain for its “More Than” brand. It also has major businesses in Canada, Ireland and Scandinavia.

The 7.2 billion pound takeover is expected to complete in the second quarter, RSA said.

Intact will gain RSA’s Canada, UK and international operations while Tryg will take the Sweden and Norway businesses. The pair will co-own RSA’s Danish unit.

RSA said there was a net COVID-19 impact of 42 million pounds on operating profit from premiums, claims and investment income.

“RSA’s results had to be achieved despite a drag on profits from COVID-19, as well as coping with the many other severe challenges it posed – to capital and operations, and most

especially to customer service,” said Chief Executive Stephen Hester.

Hester, who joined RSA as CEO in 2014, is due to step down after the deal completes.

($1 = 0.7179 pounds)

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)

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