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Inchcape Retail set up the Facebook profile as an alternative way of communicating with employees

Leading automotive distributor and retailer Inchcape Retail is utilising the popular social networking site Facebook as a channel for communicating the company's employee voluntary benefits package, 'Inchcape Employee Advantages Scheme (EAS)'. The scheme includes an impressive discount scheme along with childcare vouchers and cycle to work scheme to help colleagues to ‘drive their cash the extra mile’

Inchcape Retail set up the Facebook profile as an alternative way of communicating with employees. In addition, Inchcape Retail ran an Employee Benefit Survey that was completed, by nearly half of the firm's 5,600 UK employees, which returned a positive response to the suggestion of communicating through Facebook. They are also actively planning to test the appeal through a series of focus groups at the end of June.

Set up as a 'private' profile on the social networking site, employees can enjoy regular updates on new retailers, 'Super Saving' offers, competitions, most popular offers, weekly 'top ten' retailers and offers, and peer-to-peer discussions and recommendations for savings available through the Inchcape EAS, provided by Asperity Employee Benefits.

Inchcape Retail’s Rachel Begg , said: "Facebook offers a great opportunity to communicate some great benefits to our colleagues in a way that helps increase and maintain employee engagement . The offers and savings available through the scheme generate a good deal of excitement among our employees so it's great to have a forum through which they can share their money-saving experiences and share tips and recommendations."

To join the Facebook profile employees must request friendship and then be accepted by Inchcape's Colleague Support Services team, who verify that the requester is an Inchcape UK employee. The profile includes a helpful information section, which explains how the scheme works and how to register, along with clear, details on how to contact the scheme's Helpdesk and Inchcape's Colleague Support Services team.

George Farrow, client service director at Asperity said: "The Inchcape team has been truly innovative in their approach to employee benefits communication. We always encourage our clients to engage their employees in as many ways as possible - a combination of posters, roadshows, emails and intranet banners are essential, but there's always potential to do more."

Since the page went live in March, it has gained nearly 140 'friends' without any promotion at all but through word of mouth. Active promotion of the Facebook page will begin in July.

Farrow added: "Owning a Facebook account is almost as common as owning an email account, and mobile technology is making it increasingly available to people anytime, anywhere. Inchcape has recognised a real opportunity in Facebook to generate excitement around the benefits programme in a way that promotes employer loyalty and a feeling of community amongst Inchcape employees."

Feedback on the Facebook profile so far has been hugely positive and there has been a number of money-saving 'good news' stories posted by employees.

Begg added: "With over 70% of our employees registered and actively saving £000’s every month -on the Inchcape EAS scheme already, we can't wait to see how high we can get the engagement rate with this Facebook initiative, especially once we start actively promoting. Depending on its success, we are considering how we could utilise Facebook even further to promote and communicate other aspects of our employee benefits package."