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Manufacturing company saves 80% on payroll processing costs with My SMART-e

Manufacturing company saves 80% on payroll processing costs with My SMART-e 1200 630 Growth Partners

Type of business: Manufacturing company
Date onboarded: 1 March 2022 

The company had operated a lean business model, relying on outsourced providers for tasks such as payroll and pension processing, but the costs seem to be ever-increasing. They had always outsourced their payroll and pension processing to an accountancy firm to unload the burden from the head office finance team. But the costs seemed to be getting steeper and the additional charges for administering one-off tasks such as furlough payments during the pandemic, or creating P60s, led them to look at their options.

With cost in mind, they turned to Growth Partners, who were able to take on their payroll and pension processing and their compliance while reducing their costs by a huge 80%.

“Growth Partners’ service fees are so reasonable – and even better, they’re set. So, no matter how many staff we take on or the one-off bonus payments we make, the monthly fee is the same. When we totalled up how much we were being charged every month and compared it to Growth Partners’ fees, it was a no-brainer.” 

More than payroll and pensions…

What started as a cost-saving exercise for the medical manufacturer, led to greater things as Growth Partners were able to assist with their employee engagement services too. 

The all-in-one solution for payroll, pension and employee engagement services means their employees have access to their payslips and pension pot via an app as well as a range of discounts, online GP services, counselling support and much more. 

“The discounts have really boosted morale among the team – being able to give employees the opportunity to save on everyday things such as groceries and kids’ days out is effectively a tax-free pay rise, at a time when every bit helps.”

Now almost a year into their partnership with Growth Partners, the company and their employees have expressed their satisfaction with the switch. Their employees tell them how much easier it is to have 24/7 access to their pay documents via the app as opposed to email and the discounts have been a real hit.

Our CEO of Employee Services, Scott Read said: 

“Our cost-effective proposition is something we’re proud of – we don’t want to bill our customers every time they ask for help, one fee covers everything. And the employee engagement support payment we give companies can make a big difference to their bottom line. We’re adding new services all the time to ensure our all-in-one solution for payroll, pension and employee engagement can really help businesses to grow.”

Find out more about our cost-saving solution 

To find out more about our all-in-one solution for payroll, pension and employee engagement services you can arrange a demo here. Or contact us and we’ll be in touch. 

My SMART-E all-in-one solution

Employer discussing with employee

12 alternatives to making redundancies

12 alternatives to making redundancies 1920 1280 Claire Hannon-Boyle

Unpredictable customer demand and uncertainty feel very much a part of everyday life at the moment. For many businesses, staff costs are the single largest expenditure, so balancing spend against output is a key consideration – particularly in sectors where the order book is a lesser-known quantity, and the topic of redundancies is never too far from the agenda.

Many businesses may find themselves looking at what they need to do to adapt and help to safeguard their future. This is no mean feat.

So what can you do to reduce costs and avoid a situation where a headcount reduction via redundancy is necessary? First let’s start with options.

12 Alternatives to Making Redundancies

  1. Compulsory holiday
  2. Overtime ban
  3. Career breaks
  4. Unpaid leave
  5. Lay-offs
  6. Short-time working
  7. Recruitment freeze
  8. Natural attrition
  9. Flexible or part-time working
  10. Cross-training
  11. Policy changes
  12. Pay cuts or pay freezes

1. Compulsory holiday

You can ask staff to take holiday in downtimes which not only helps control work distribution but also assists the operation during busier periods by ensuring a full headcount is available. This hopefully also means the need for overtime is minimised.

Be careful how this is applied though.  If there is minimal leave to take later in the year, burnt out staff can be a real problem as they are not as effective and it could result in unwanted turnover.  As one of the most highly prized employee benefits, limiting the scope for personal choice in how annual leave is used may have a devaluing effect. Mandated leave is also likely to impact the cost and location of a holiday, or whether the employee is able to spend that time with friends and loved ones.

Ensure correct notice is given to take holiday – either follow contractual terms or your company policy. In the absence of this, the general rule is that notice twice as long as the leave to be taken should be given i.e., two weeks’ notice to be given for one weeks’ leave.


2. Overtime ban

Stopping non-contractual overtime is simply a matter of transparent communication.

People will be more likely to understand and buy into this measure when you are specific about which areas of the business this applies to, why and the timeframe.

However, if this is contractual or if you suspect this might be considered contractual through what is known as “customer and practice” i.e., clear history of this being used or with known rules etc, it will be necessary to agree this prior to application, and it is advisable to get any agreement to vary this term in writing.


3. Career breaks

Career breaks are arguably more practical for larger organisations or for those with more senior employees who are more likely to have larger savings pots to rely on.  Nevertheless, don’t make assumptions!   You are unlikely to know the ins and outs of personal finances so remember to offer to all.

Career breaks allow people to remain an employee, but they agree to receive no pay during the career break.  It’s a matter of policy whether they continue to receive other benefits, such as company car, health care etc.

If you are considering this, a top tip is to reserve the right to turn down volunteers to avoid a situation where it negatively impacts key parts of the operation.


4. Unpaid leave

It usually takes a few weeks to a month to see the benefit of this option in reducing wage costs.

In all cases it’s necessary to get the employee’s agreement, so better to ask for volunteers in the first instance.

This is a good short-term measure which may suit both parties while also protecting employment.  While not legally required, it’s best practice to put any agreement in writing.

Employer discussing with employee

5. Lay-offs

Laying off staff is when an employer takes an employee off work and off pay for at least one working day. Effectively it’s sending the employee home temporarily. It’s used as a response to a lack of work, and again, an alternative to making redundancies.

There is a statutory scheme for laying off staff, but a lay-off clause in the employment contract is required in order to implement this. That said, if you have no existing contractual right, you can ask people to agree to this.  Often if the employee knows this is a last resort and that more permanent solutions, such as redundancies, may need to be considered they are more likely to understand and accept this course of action.

Invoking a lay off is a specialist area of HR and we would advise you seek professional support if considering this.

6. Short-time working

Short-time working is similar to lay-offs, but rather than providing no work, the employer provides some work. So, in effect is reducing employees’ working hours.

As with lay-offs, an express clause in the employment contract is required in order to implement short-time working. If you have no existing contractual right, you can ask people to agree to short-time working.

Employees who are put on short-time working or lay off are entitled to pay on the days they do no work at all. This is called statutory guarantee pay and is the legal minimum an employer must pay.

Statutory guarantee pay is £30 a day for five days in any three-month period. Employees who usually earn less than £30 a day will get their usual daily rate.  The maximum an employee is entitled to is £150.

If an employee works part-time, their entitlement is worked out in proportion to their part-time hours.

Employees can however apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if they’ve been laid off or put on short-time working and receive less than half a week’s pay for:

  • four or more weeks in a row, or
  • six or more weeks in a 13-week period

So, while this can be a very low-cost solution, it really is a last resort before needing to commence compulsory redundancies.  Equally, the specific rules and criteria above can be quite complex to navigate, particularly where larger groups of the workforce are involved.

It is therefore always advisable to seek professional advice if you are considering this option.


7. Recruitment freeze

By applying a recruitment freeze no additional costs are added to the pay bill but care in application is required, as a blanket ban is a fairly blunt tool.

Critical positions which service customers or those that are a key source for chasing debt or generating higher levels of demand are likely to still be needed. So while hiring during difficult times might initially seem counterintuitive, it may be vital for you to stay afloat.

If budget is really tight, consider the potential of redeploying people from one area of the business to another.  Time spent recruiting could be better spent retraining and upskilling existing employees. Also, continuing to invest in workforce skills is a far more powerful message so don’t miss the opportunity to communicate this.


8. Natural attrition

Natural attrition is the term for voluntary leavers from a business over the course of a year.

Over the past few years, UK turnover has sat around 15% per annum though this varies hugely dependant on sector. So, if you are planning to strategically downsize your business, would you consider cutting more than this percent of your workforce?

If you don’t feel confident about the number and reason for leavers in your business, then establishing your natural attrition rate is certainly data you need to know to help make a more informed decision.

Allowing attrition to happen organically should be considered one of the least risky options and removes the angst around more compulsory options.

However, by not backfilling roles it may mean heavier workloads for others. It also means you have far less control in determining where job losses take place.  Explaining why you are not backfilling and recognising the bigger workloads for the team, will at least show you have weighed up all the options.

Also bear in mind, movement in the jobs market has slowed as people take a more cautious approach during these uncertain times.  So, if action is needed now, it might be prudent to consider other options.


9. Flexible or part-time working

For many, one of the benefits the pandemic has brought is a reprioritisation of personal and social lives.  Coupled with the fact many employees have now by necessity experienced a range of flexible working arrangements, perhaps due to self-isolation, childcare or other needs.  Flexible working options such as part-time, compressed hours, varied start and finish times now feel much more achievable.

Just as views on where people prefer to work have altered, so have perceptions around the amount of time needing to be spent focused on work.

Again, don’t make assumptions here, you may now have a much greater pool of people who would consider this suitable for them.

Business discussing options

10. Cross-training or multi-skilling

As mentioned above, a recruitment freeze is preferable to entering into a redundancy situation. However, you might still need to cover certain tasks, and cross-training or multi-skilling your existing employees could help.

Bear in mind it’s a perfectly legitimate expectation that by increasing knowledge and skills, multi-skilled employees become more valuable,  so you should expect some form of recompense may be needed.

Again, think about the low-cost solutions.  The pandemic has certainly taught us that flexi-time, hybrid or home-working can work.  Failing that, a future bonus or incentive if certain performance targets or outcomes are met is perhaps another carrot to help get buy-in for this option.


11. Policy changes

Some company policies are contractual or have become contractual over time through customer and practice. Key ones to look at here are sick pay, overtime, redundancy, expenses, and training.

If these are no longer viable due to the costs involved, discussions with your employees are helpful (even if not legally required), so they understand why the change is necessary and feel included in the decision-making process.

Being open and honest about alternatives i.e., salary cuts or potential job losses will also help people to contextualise the predicament.  The principle of prioritising other areas first to save money, rather than electing for headcount reductions, is hard to disagree with.


12. Pay cuts or pay freezes

You will need express consent from people to implement a pay cut. Otherwise, you risk a breach of contract and unlawful deduction of wages claim.

If you can’t persuade people to agree, you can give notice to end the existing contract and rehire on new terms.  This is a dismissal in law so dependent on the employee’s length of service, there may be a risk of an unfair dismissal claim.  But as long as there is a sound business reason (as judged by a reasonable employer) this is likely to be deemed as what’s known as a “some other substantial reason” dismissal, which can be a valid reason for ending employment (see section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).  Again, where unpopular measures are being considered, think about sweetening the deal in some way – working from home, flexible start and finish times are often highly prized by employees.

As this option will only offer a future saving, short-term immediate measures may also need to be considered in conjunction with this, if cashflow is particularly precarious.


How to approach redundancy with employees

Now let’s talk about approach.  It goes without saying meeting your legal obligations is the minimum that’s required.  But how these options are handled could be the difference between success and failure.

Being well prepared with facts and data, as well as approaching things with honesty and transparency is a good starting point.  You’ll get far more acceptance and understanding where you level with your employees.

It’s also important to note, none of these options come without some form of downside.  Whether that’s an immediate negative impact on morale or potential for creating turnover among some of your best talent further down the line – particularly if things don’t return to previously experienced levels.

Putting yourself in their shoes will help you anticipate likely questions and should enable you to present a clearer picture of what needs to change and why, without glossing over the impact on individuals.

Sufficient details such as when and how long for, will also help add reassurance measures are temporary, rather than a full-scale shift in culture/policy or watering down of the employee offering.

Finally, there is a balance to be had between being transparent and unsettling people.  If adopting any of these measures will genuinely prevent future job losses, then say so.  If on the other hand it is more hopeful optimism before inevitable job cuts, a more dogmatic approach may be required.

About the author

Claire Antony Growth Partners

Claire Antony HR Business Partner at Growth Partners

Claire holds a depth and breadth of experience in HR, having operated in standalone roles supporting senior leaders, as well as leading HR/payroll teams, operating at Board level. Working across a variety of sectors, from micro businesses to multinational blue-chips, Claire is passionate about finding solutions to help businesses succeed in their goals.

Business growth solutions

When you’re investing time into running your successful business, it can become difficult to keep on top of everything. Contact the team at Growth Partners today to find out more about our all-in-one solution for payroll, pensions, benefits, wellbeing, and employee engagement services.

To chat to Claire Antony about this topic, email or call 0116 340 3116

Employee engagement key to retaining staff

Employee engagement – the key to retaining staff

Employee engagement – the key to retaining staff 1920 1280 Scott Read

I was recently asked by one of our clients, where does the link between employee engagement and retention begin? And what role will employee engagement play in retaining staff in the future? My answer really was simple, the key to retaining good staff is having a solid employee engagement strategy and this is why…

Employee engagement factors

Where is the Link Between Retaining Staff and Employee Engagement? It is easy to understand that happy, engaged staff are inclined to be loyal to their employer and be less inclined to leave but Gallup takes this a step further defining actively engaged employees as “loyal and productive.” By investing in employee engagement, not only can a company experience low employee turnover rates but they can reap the benefits of increased productivity too.

It is a common myth that employee engagement is about retaining staff once they’ve proved their worth and so often we see business leaders choosing to invest in their employees once the company is established and only once they need to enter the growth stage. I disagree with this approach entirely.

The key to staff retention starts with the very first interaction. It is a crucial stage for both the employee to share their excitement for the role and the company to gain commitment and buy-in before they even join. This stage in the recruitment process is the bedrock of long-term working relationships.

How engaged are employees in the UK?

According to a study by Qualtrics, approximately half of the workers in the UK are engaged. That puts us in sixth place on the list of countries with the highest engagement rates. The European country with the highest engagement rate is France at 55%.  Companies that effectively turn feedback into action have an 80% employee engagement rate and highly engaged teams sell 20% more than teams with low engagement.

The UK’s average employee turnover rate is approximately 15% a year. Burned-out workers are 2.6 times more likely to look for another job and burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day.

High staff turnover, burn-out and sick days all significantly affect a companies’ bottom line and growth potential.

What role will employee engagement play in retaining staff in the future?

Employers need to take action now if they want to attract talent and retain staff going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the working environment forever – it not only brought uncertainty for many businesses but also a huge burden of responsibility for their employees. From implementing remote working, to finding new ways to communicate on-top of the decision of when and how to utilise the Job Retention Scheme.

Now is the perfect time for business leaders to step back and look at their approach to employee engagement. It’s time to update their employee engagement strategy or start to create one. By investing in employee engagement, it is clear that companies can reduce turnover rates and reduce costs while also increasing productivity and therefore business growth and be in a better position to weather any future storms.

What next?

If you need help creating an employee engagement strategy, speak to our business growth experts. You can also read more about our SMART Employment model or book a demo of our all-in-one solution here

Scott Read Growth Partners discusses the link between employee engagement and retention

Scott Read Growth Partners discusses the link between employee engagement and retention

Scott Read is a results-driven business leader with a proven track record in helping employers strategise key business growth through employee engagement.

Outsourcing payroll

6 things to consider when researching outsourced payroll providers

6 things to consider when researching outsourced payroll providers 1280 729 Growth Partners

Whether you’re considering outsourcing your company’s payroll for the first time or looking to switch outsourced payroll providers, it’s important to do your research regarding how to outsource payroll.

A recent YouGov study reported a quarter of businesses believe managing payroll requires too much of their time and affects their overall business performance.

If you’re looking to grow your business, outsourcing your payroll is a great step towards unburdening yourself from the administrative headache of keeping up with legislative changes and the expectation that you have all the answers to your employees’ payroll and pension queries.

Should I outsource payroll?

Outsourced payroll providers can also save you money and minimise the risk to your business if you choose the right provider.

In this post, we’ll discuss six important things to consider when finding out how to outsource payroll:

1. Choose a specialist outsourced payroll provider

There are so many payroll providers to choose from – from specialist outsourced payroll providers and payroll companies to HR companies and accountants.

The accountancy firm that you use for your accounts may be great at accounts, but are they specialists in payroll? If you’re using your accountant for payroll administration or are considering doing so, ask them about their expertise in payroll. Chances are, they might not actually enjoy payroll processing and may prefer to focus on your accounts, which is where their specialism lies. Some accountancy firms will actually outsource your payroll to a payroll specialist, so this is also something to consider.

2. Check the outsourced payroll provider is fully compliant with HMRC and The Pensions Regulator

Payroll compliance can be a headache if you’re not a specialist in this area. To comply with Government regulations, you must make accurate payments and deductions, provide employees with detailed payslips, file and pay all taxes on time, pay deductions such as pension payments to the right places and keep hold of records for a minimum of three years.

Pension compliance can also be difficult to keep on top of. Under the Pensions Act 2008, you must put staff into a workplace pension scheme and contribute towards it. Pension auto-enrolment is an important thing to get right, as is pension re-enrolment. Check with the UK outsourced payroll provider whether they will handle all the administration of this for you.

How do you know how your chosen pension fund is performing; when was the last time you reviewed the performance of your pension auto-enrolment fund?

3. Ensure transparency

Outsourcing your payroll is not a decision to take lightly – after all, you’re talking about the hard-earned wages of your employees. A seamless transition is best for both you and your employees, so look for a specialist provider who can handle the transition expertly and efficiently.

Ask to see the full process from end-to-end, ask to see their security credentials and how they keep your data safe and check how they’re set up to handle any significant changes to payroll, such as the job retention scheme. These are all things which YOU will be liable for if THEY get wrong, so it’s best to check these from the outset.

4. How much input will be required from your finance team?

Unburdening your finance team is a great reason to outsource your payroll. Finance managers are a fantastic asset, and freeing up their time is a win for small businesses. Payroll and pension administration is process heavy and takes a lot of time and accuracy – take the headache away from them, and they will be available to help you grow your business.

Using specialist outsourced payroll providers may also reduce the number of staff you need to recruit to your finance team to administer payroll and pension payments, therefore helping to reduce your fixed costs. A fully outsourced specialist payroll provider will also take care of the administration of new starters and leavers.

The main thing to make sure of here is that you outsource to a specialist who requires minimal interventions from your finance team – otherwise, you could end up giving your finance team an even bigger headache.

5. What do you get for your money?

You will find most payroll providers charge a set amount per employee to administer payroll, but check what added value you get.

  • Do they provide any other services for your employees?
  • Do they provide online 24/7 access to pay documents via an app?
  • Do they provide UK-based customer service support to answer your employees’ payroll issues?
  • Are they GDPR compliant?

These are important questions to ask to help you choose the best value payroll provider for you.

6. Will outsourced payroll providers give you peace of mind?

Check if compliance with HMRC and The Pensions Regulator still sits with you. If it does, you may be reducing your fixed costs and saving some money, but you may not feel you have complete peace of mind.

If the compliance still sits with you, this means the payroll providers will administer a company’s payroll and pensions, but ultimately the company directors are still responsible for the payroll providers’ actions and any compliance issues.

Our payroll and pension services

We’re proud to offer a fully outsourced specialist payroll and pension service with the following benefits:

As payroll specialists, we deliver our payroll and pension solutions as part of the SMART Employment model, which costs as little as 30p per day. SMART Employers have more time to focus on business growth, experience increased profitability through reduced costs, increased performance, and have complete peace of mind for themselves and their employees.

If you’d like to know more about outsourced payroll through our SMART Employment model, contact us for a free, no-obligation demonstration of the process and our added value services with one of our payroll and pension consultants.

5 Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement

5 Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement

5 Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement 2664 1772 Scott Read

Employee engagement is an ever-expanding marketplace and discussion topic within businesses across the world, but what does it really mean, and do we actually make it a priority?

I’ve worked in this industry now for the last eight years and the way in which so many businesses understand employee engagement is so inconsistent and means something different depending on your viewpoint. It’s not surprising, given that there are more than 50 definitions*

The evolution of engagement itself has been a fascinating journey. Early adopters started to add a number of employee benefits to their offerings, trying to differentiate their packages from the crowd, but is this really engagement, or simply business self-preservation?

We’ve all seen the introduction of staff discounts, employee assistance programmes and access to childcare vouchers being applied to thousands of businesses with a view that those employees who benefit from them will be thankful, and it will enhance their job satisfaction.

We now find ourselves in a situation where employee benefits are, or should be, the norm for every employee with 91% of employees believing employers should offer tailored benefits packages** They are accessible, affordable, easily integrated and they do offer value to those employees who have the desire and energy to use them.

I would argue that employee benefits are an essential component to a business operation, as they demonstrate that you care for your employees and that you want to make their lives better, even in just a small way. It may also be a factor that helps you retain an employee, rather than seeing them leave you to join an organisation for the sake of a few pence per hour, or a discounts scheme, or some wellbeing advice.

Employee benefits Vs employee engagement

As employee engagement becomes an even more popular topic, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have you made some employee benefits available to your employees, in the belief that this will drive loyalty, appreciation and productivity?
  2. Do you spend thousands of pounds each month/year trying to implement a range of technology, products and services, only to see usage at a really low level?
  3. Are you frustrated that your efforts in encouraging usage are wasted?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you are probably more focussed on employee benefits and not employee engagement.

It’s really important that you recognise this distinction, especially if you really want to engage with your colleagues.

So, what is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a much more difficult and complex project entirely. Genuine employee engagement is a culture, a belief system, a management ethos and it needs to be adopted by every team leader, manager, director, owner and executive within an organisation for it to truly work.

Can you look across your organisation and say that you have nailed employee engagement? I know that I look around our business every day and find a list of things we could do better, should have done better, or differently, and I constantly strive for the perfection I’m looking for.

In reality, I’ll never reach perfection, nor do I want to, because that perfection may also bring complacency. Employees change, their circumstances change, the working environment changes (we should all have seen that since COVID-19 arrived), so we need to be constantly evolving to meet the needs that these changes bring.

Ask yourself when was the last time you really reviewed your engagement strategy; do you even have one?

The creation or review of your own bespoke engagement strategy is essential in helping you stay relevant to your employees, ensuring that they stay loyal and engaged with YOU.

Your 5-point plan to drive employee engagement 

If any of this is striking a chord with you, then hopefully my 5 Point Plan can help you genuinely drive an uplift in employee engagement within your business.

Five Point Plan to Drive Employee Engagement

DOWNLOAD: Your 5 Point Plan to drive employee engagement

Employee engagement is about honesty. Rose-tinted spectacles won’t help you, but an honest assessment and strategy will. With clear objectives and the right management approach, you can transform your business from a benefits culture to an engagement one.

I believe that every business should make employee engagement a priority, not a chore, and not a box-ticking exercise. With a little focus, direction and strategy, the gains on retention, loyalty, profits and productivity that are often banded about can become a reality, but one thing is for certain… they won’t without a plan!

So, don’t play at engagement, devise a strategy and implement it with the same purpose, drive and energy that you would every other project within your business; the rewards will be more lucrative and long-standing than most short-term new-business campaigns that you run.

Scott is a results-driven business leader with an impressive track record of helping employers strategise key business growth.

Scott Read Growth Partners


To speak to Scott about your employee engagement strategy, call 07368 474 319 or email


Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement – IOE

What’s Next for Digital Benefits Administration in 2019 – HR Technologist