It was a suggestion from a member of staff that prompted international palletised freight network Pall-Ex Group to introduce what turned out to be its most successful employee benefit in terms of take-up.
After the idea of joining a credit union was put forward, Pall-Ex Group’s Head of Group HR Stephanie Durrant explored further and was recommended to speak to Commsave Credit Union in Northampton.
Since then, the scheme has proved incredibly popular, with a large proportion of the 500-strong workforce signing up to have a small sum deducted from their monthly wages and placed into a savings account with Commsave.
“Pall-Ex Group has a vision to become the Employer of Choice in our sector and part of that is a wellbeing strategy that involves building an employee benefits package that
“I’m very much an advocate for financial wellbeing, so when someone suggested a credit union we made enquiries and were put in contact with Commsave. They are FSCS regulated, so there’s no risk to savers, and their team went out of their way to explain the benefits to us, then came in to explain it to the workforce, and were there to support us all the way through.
“At a time when everyone is worried about the cost of living and utility bills rising, it’s understandable that some people have money worries, and this goes some way to help relieve the stress of that. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of money each month, most employees barely miss it, but then it builds up into quite a nice sum.
“One of the major motivating factors for Pall-Ex was the Christmas Savings account. It will be wonderful at Christmas to hear people saying how much difference it has made, taking all the stress out of what is an expensive time of year.”
Figures suggest that 77% of all employees in the UK say that they have spent time at work worrying about their finances. Commsave, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, has been established since 1991, and has 33,000 members nationwide. Credit unions are not-for-profit organisations and so offer working people competitive interest rates on savings, as well as providing lending options that can steer borrowers away from spiralling payday loans.
As well as reducing stress and, therefore, potential stress-related absenteeism, credit unions encourage good saving habits, gradually changing people’s behaviour and helping them build better financial resilience. Commsave is easily accessible by phone, via its website or mobile app, so that members can easily track their finances and access their savings when they need to.
James Richards, Business Development Manager at Commsave, said:
“We are delighted to be working with Pall-Ex Group to bring this additional benefit to its workforce. Having a small amount deducted from your wages each month is something you hardly notice, but the benefits are clear.
“For the companies who partner with us, I think it’s very much about looking after the wellbeing of their people. It costs nothing to offer the benefit to your staff, but it can make all the difference to them.”
Savers choose the amount to be deducted directly from their pay, from a minimum of £10 per month. The payments build into a ‘rainy day fund’ for when extra cash is needed. If there’s not enough in their fund for what they need, they can also apply for any-purpose loans of anything from £100 up to £25,000.
An annual dividend is paid to savers – with a return of 1.5% projected for the current financial year – a rate that’s not easy to come by on the High Street, and borrowers pay between 6.2% and 26.8% APR on loans.
Commsave offers a range of ways to borrow. Orbital Loans, for instance, work on the same basis as an overdraft, with an agreed limit and no interest or charges if it isn’t used. The APR on such a loan is 19.6%, compared with closer to 40% imposed by banks and other lenders on similar facilities.
Stephanie Durrant said:
“It’s important to Pall-Ex Group to make sure that the wellbeing of its employees is looked after. We run regular engagement surveys and we operate a You Ask, We Deliver policy, where if employees want something and we can offer it, we do. If we can’t, we go back to them and explain why. We’re trying to put together a selection of benefits from which they can choose, since not every benefit is relevant to everyone.
“But joining Commsave has been the most popular scheme yet in terms of uptake, and there’s so much more to it than saving. Even those that choose not to save have access to a wealth of helpful information through the Commsave website, where they can find out more about different aspects of financial planning, all free of charge. This is just one aspect of our employee value proposition that we continue to build upon.”
Find out more about Pall-Ex here.