Exploring changing demands and the development of our technology across 20 years of peoplevalue
This month, peoplevalue is celebrating 20 years in business. Since its launch in 2002, the business has evolved into an established provider within the benefits and rewards industry, serving around 500 clients and over 2 million users around the UK.
Across the span of its two decades, peoplevalue has witnessed and been central to some huge changes within the employee engagement landscape. This includes changing employee needs, expectations and demands, the development of HR, the advancement of technology and, most recently, the pivot to ‘anywhere’ work.
To acknowledge and celebrate this momentous birthday, we sat down with a few individuals who have been, and remain, core to the business’s success. Andy Caldicott, CEO, Simon Chambers, CTO and Matt Snare, Sales Director, discuss and reflect on how employee engagement, and peoplevalue, have evolved throughout the last twenty years.
Andy Caldicott, CEO at peoplevalue
Throughout peoplevalue’s 20 years of business, the HR and employee engagement industry has changed beyond all recognition. As both a service provider and a small business, we’ve witnessed and been involved in these changes in a number of different ways.
Looking back over the “world of work” history, the shift from companies viewing employees as resources that needed to be scheduled and maintained like machines to being recognised as individuals who deliver business success is very clear.
Over the past two decades, we’ve seen more and more organisational leaders and C-suite executives understand that the happiness and engagement levels of their people are key to organisational success – and restructure their business accordingly. With the engagement of employees being a key strategic goal, businesses are able to enjoy the benefits of attracting, motivating and engaging top talent as these things help them reach their business goals.
Generationally, today’s workplace is incredibly diverse with up to five generations working together – all with varying expectations. Employees nowadays typically place more demands on their employer. Like educated, savvy shoppers they expect to be valued and treated like customers in the workplace. Elements of work such as the employee experience and cultural alignment are now of higher importance – as more employees want their working life to positively impact their overall life too.
With this new generation of workers has also come new demands and expectations regarding technology. Employers are now expected to provide employee engagement and benefits solutions that offer a seamless, frictionless and optimised user experience to their employees – or risk falling behind and losing talent to more fresh, modern competitors.
This employer “employment” brand piece is today becoming integrated into a business’ DNA. Organisations of all sizes are waking up and realising that having disengaged employees can be hugely consequential. The HR function has rapidly evolved to adapt to these changes in mindset, with HR professionals now challenged with strategic roles to engage employees in a very competitive space.
As suppliers to the employee engagement market, all of these factors have been hugely influential in not only driving the industry forward but determining what we have needed to deliver to our customers to ensure we’re innovating accordingly, meeting requirements and continuing to add value.
Matt Snare, Sales Director at peoplevalue
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen to the employee engagement landscape in my role as Sales Director is the shift from a more transactional HR to a more strategic, specialist role within the business. Throughout the past twenty years, Reward and Benefits Managers have quite often been the people that we’ve spoken to about our services. But, nowadays, we’re seeing more specific roles such as Culture and Employee Engagement Managers – people whose sole job is to find innovative ways to drive culture and embed desirable behaviour into the every day of the business. So, what’s caused this shift? Ultimately, it comes down to the evolving needs and expectations of employees.
In recent years and particularly in light of the pandemic and ‘the great resignation’, businesses have been faced with a ‘war for talent.’ It’s become an absolute necessity for them to do more to differentiate and enhance their EVP to attract, engage, motivate and retain employees – or risk losing them. Ultimately, it comes down to how a business sells itself to potential employees, by demonstrating why they should want to work with them and what makes them stand out in a highly-competitive market. They’re now needing to create an employee value proposition that’s fit for purpose, that’s relevant and that provides choice for anyone and everyone within their business.
Because of this, the appetite for employee benefits has grown. Back in the day, we would often be having to educate prospects on the value of employee benefits and discounts, whereas now, the current economic conditions and cost of living crisis have meant that employee discounts are now becoming a cornerstone of employee benefits. There’s an expectation that all businesses will have something like that in place. Things like culture, wellbeing and the employee experience are also becoming increasingly more important, especially now that more businesses are functioning with post-pandemic hybrid and remote working policies. Businesses are becoming more conscious of the fact that they need tools and systems in place to support their employees and help them connect with each other in the virtual space.
In terms of technology, employees want that consumer-grade experience and convenient, instant accessibility. Nowadays, more businesses are therefore after a simple piece of easy-to-use technology that they can use as a focal point for articulating their EVP and driving culture. On top of this, within the last twenty years, we’ve seen an increase in employee expectations around personal development through e-learning. Businesses are understanding that catering to the different needs and different aspirations of individual team members is really key to their engagement. Plus, by offering these tools they’re empowering employees to better their skills and knowledge and helping them to feel fully integrated into the business and aligned to its vision, mission, values and purpose.
Simon Chambers, Chief Technology Officer at peoplevalue
When I think back to what the tech was like in those early days, it really was at its most basic form. It was a simple commerce platform, delivering discounts to whoever had access to them and no other benefits, community features or communications.
Around the time we launched the first version of our benefits solution, advantage, nobody else really had anything out there. We were an early adopter, which meant that, naturally, we were very much internally-led and customer-led rather than market-led – just a group of guys trying different things to see if they worked.
Our reward and recognition system was, again, a very basic points-based redemption service. But, as the benefits and reward market developed, we had to really re-think the way we packaged and laid out our features and the way we processed a lot of the information. We developed our systems accordingly to scale with the business and improve how we handled orders. We updated designs and introduced new features to deliver a better user experience. We had a number of clients during this time who really helped to drive our rewards solution forward. Their requirements saw the introduction of features such as manager approvals and budget, the reward catalogue and communications support. If you had to pick out a point in our evolutionary development where peoplevalue became the peoplevalue we are now, albeit in a much early form, I think it was at this point.
The development of our employee benefits solution over the last 20 years has been a journey of not just technology, but of marketing and design. It’s also not just the development of our technology that has driven us forward as a business but also the retailer journey and the advancement of discounts in the form of vouchers and gift cards.
Changing client expectations over the last two to three years have brought us to where we are today. From around 2008, our solution became much more customer-focused. It became something the customer wanted and was asking for, rather than just a tool. Naturally, our clients wanted lots of different things, so we consciously focused on making our technology flexible so we could deliver valuable solutions to our clients in the quickest way possible. We’re now condensing our different technologies and solutions and features into one, easy-to-use platform and modern experience.
Back in the early days, it was a tactical product. Now we’re seeing the whole market move very definitely towards a strategic, measurable solution – and that journey has been quite an interesting one.
Interested in finding out more about peoplevalue’s solutions? Head to our resources page.