Organisations can no longer afford to approach employee benefits programmes with a traditional mindset. Changing staff expectations are putting the pressure on decision-makers to differentiate themselves from their competitors or risk losing talented individuals, according to Adrian Zanetti, director at PLP Group.

“With the brain drain being an ever-present danger in the South African marketplace, companies must take their war for talent to the next level and use increasingly sophisticated solutions to attract and retain the brightest minds. Things like paid maternity leave and bonuses have become a given. The digital world requires a fundamental shift in what benefits are expected and on offer,” he says.

Part of this is due to the availability of more personalised solutions to consumers. Virtually every industry from banking and insurance to online shopping and music and video streaming caters to the needs of the individual as opposed to a mass demographic. It therefore stands to reason that people expect the same tailored approach from the companies they work for.

“We recently relaunched the Accenture benefit programme to reflect this individual focus. Now called ‘Accent on You’, it assists employees with both personal and professional requests. It features an innovative digital personal assistant service where people can get help with things as diverse as booking a birthday party for their child or negotiating better rates on their insurance premiums,” says Zanetti.

This has contributed to Accenture’s strong showing in the recent Top Employers Institute top employers in South Africa rankings.

“The PLP benefit programme together with the digital personal assistance service has integrated seamlessly into our overall employee value proposition. It reflects our focus on providing individuals with benefits that deliver a measurable impact on their lives. For us, it is less about using technology for its own sake and more about delivering a compelling offering which our employees use daily,” says Essaivani Padayachee, Total Rewards Lead at Accenture.

Zanetti feels that what differentiates Accenture and other forward-thinking organisations is how they are using technology to create a personal touch that builds on the emotional connection an employee has with the business.

“Top companies are using world-class benefits programmes to become an employer of choice. Technology can be an incredibly powerful asset in this regard, with human resources better able to analyse employee data and build benefits that cater to their unique needs,” concludes Zanetti.