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Case study: How Astro’s unique benefits plan led to a 63% engagement rate

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Integrated consumer media entertainment group Astro knew that to achieve its five-year growth strategy of becoming Malaysia’s leading source of consumer entertainment, it needed to attract and retain both on-air and off-air talent.

It set out to build an employer brand that catered to the future workforce needs and embraced diversity as a source of competitive advantage.

Part of building an attractive employer brand is having benefits that meet employees’ diverse needs, based on what stage in the employment life cycle they are at.

Astro decided to implement a customisable benefits plan – myChoice@Astro – in 2011, the aim of which was to empower employees to choose their benefits according to their priorities, be it cash rewards, training and development or medical needs.

Additionally, it provides employees with a comprehensive range of reimbursable items to suit each individual’s needs.

myChoice@Astro’s aim was to empower employees to choose their benefits according to their priorities, be it cash rewards, training and development or medical needs.

MyChoice@Astro has five components, which include a benefit allowance based on salary and job grade, allowing staff to top-up the flexible spending account, and an option to upgrade core health insurance and medical coverage.

The core benefits of the plan include annual leave, meal allowances and free pay-TV subscription. On the other hand, optional benefits include health and wellness, financial benefits and transport benefits, including a new vehicle maintenance component.

The plan also includes four upgrades: encashment which converts unutilised annual leave and outpatient coverage into flexi points and allows employees to earn additional points by staying healthy; enhancement – allowing the user points to improve core health and medical benefits; enrichment – an optional portable and personal hospital and surgical top-up insurance coverage; and a leave depository – which allows staff to deposit annual leave into a leave bank for extended leave use in the future or on family care emergencies.

Astro communicated this new plan through various channels, including its intranet, online portal for employee self-service, e-newsletters, as well as the annual total rewards statement which breaks down the components for compensation so employees can understand what they are getting – both tangible and intangible aspects.

Moving away from a one-size-fits-all C&B model won over our employees from diverse backgrounds.

“Employees were initially sceptical of the benefit offerings when introduced to myChoice@Astro. There was also a need to manage legacy benefit offerings that were in place prior to myChoice@Astro,” said Paul Thomas Kannimmel, senior vice-president of human capital at Astro Malaysia Holdings.

“Having said that, moving away from a one-size-fits-all C&B model won over our employees from diverse backgrounds.”

Since the launch of myChoice@Astro, the company’s employee satisfaction rate has increased from 54% in 2011 to 63% in 2013. At the same time, the attrition rate has decreased over the years, remaining consistently below the Malaysian norm.

Furthermore, there has been an improvement of employees’ overall health with the average number of sick leave used per year dropping from 2.98 days in 2011 to 2.43 days in 2014 as employees are incentivised with additional flexi points for low sick leave utilisation.

Moving forward, Astro plans to enhance the myChoice@Astro programme in two ways – by growing the list of reimbursable items, as well as introduce an employee assistance programme to improve their physical and psychological health.

In order for companies to make use of compensation and benefits to win the talent war, Kannimmel pointed out that “companies need to have current C&B data without having to wait for periodic survey data to be made available.”

Since the launch of myChoice@Astro, the company’s employee satisfaction rate has increased from 54% in 2011 to 63% in 2013.

With a key differentiator being the speed of access to data and the ability to make sense of it.

He added: “The ability to further differentiate C&B offerings based on talent segments will be crucial.”

For more case studies from Singtel, SMRT and Avnet, and tips for building a top compensation and benefits strategy, head over to the Human Resources’ March feature

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