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Lifestyle Benefits
Business Overview 
The University of Sussex is a leading research-intensive university near Brighton. It has both an international and local outlook, with staff and students from more than 100 countries. There are over 3,000 employees on the payroll and over 16,000 students, it’s an attractive place academic and students alike. The University has a reputation for collaboration, innovation and inspiration, attracting leading researchers and professors from around the world. There are two distinct employee groups; Academics (Including lecturers, researchers and Professors), and Professional Services, who ensure that the University runs smoothly looking after everything from the infrastructure of the huge campus, to student experience, and functions that are common to all organisation, for example finance, HR and IT.
The challenge 
Universities, are an increasing spot light in terms of providing value for money. Students that are paying upwards of £30,000 by the time they graduate, expect that their money should be spent well. The whole approach to university tuition fees, and thus funding is under review (The Augar Review). There has also been a focus on Vice Chancellor pay (the CEO of a University). These issues have been taken up by the Government regulator, the Office For Students, resulting in greater transparency and disclosure on pay. With a significant proportion of students being from outside the UK, Brexit uncertainty has not helped. With a limited budget and no excess cash flow, the management team at the University were on the lookout for an efficient and effective way to enhance the staffs’ total reward packages and boost their overall offering without a significant investment. The University engaged Steve Walsh, a reward management consultant form Embrace Reward Management, to come in and look broadly at the approach to Reward, one focus was developing the total reward proposition in order to support the efforts to increase employee engagement. The first step in any piece of work was to find out what was already in place, and what options there were to do more. On review, it emerged that in fact there were lots of options for staff to receive discounts on everything from membership of the University gym, to public transport discounts. A number of gaps became clear: • Accessing the offerings that were already in place was a challenge, they were hard to find, and accessing them was not intuitive. • The University was not leveraging the size of its workforce to offer staff discounts. • There was no Employee Assistance Programme in place.
The solution 
The University of Sussex did their due diligence and shopped around for the right Employee Discounts provider to match their requirements, values and culture. After thorough competitive review, Xexec were selected based on price, service and the overall launch experience. Some critical factors to be addressed with a new employee engagement solution included productivity, commitment, performance and motivation. Xexec delivered and launched a bespoke and fully branded discount and engagement platform, housed within the next generation integrated portal which can be accessed at work or on the go. The discount portal offers employees over 3,000 exclusive discounts and cashback savings with everything from discounted tickets, high street retailers, instant e-vouchers and travel offers. The package also includes access to a telephone concierge service where employees have access to a quick and easy service, be it for sought-after tickets, home and personal services or travel requests. The new employee benefits portal, portal was launched simultaneously with the new Xexec discount platform, and an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
The Outcome 
The University of Sussex launched in October 2018 and within a few months, 1,000s of employees had registered and were actively using the portal. The uptake has been really quick and steady where employees are enjoying great savings. The most popular offers have been Cineworld tickets, John Lewis and Marks and Spencer e-vouchers. The feedback has been really positive and the evidence is in the uptake and redemption levels. More and more users are registering on a regular basis especially as new and exclusive discounts are being added on a weekly basis. The University continues to look for opportunities to evidence the value it places on its staff, proving them with a comprehensive, industry leading, easy to access range of benefits, while ensuring the best value for money in what is a very challenging financial environment. “Xexec have been key to our efforts not only to enhance the total reward proposition at Sussex, but also to make inroads into the holy grail for all reward professionals, making sure that the benefits profile is relevant to our people, and easy to access. We employ a very diverse range for people, from world leading professors to main grade finance professionals, the Xexec solution provide something for everyone.” - Steve Walsh, Director, Embrace Reward Management.

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