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Sun Xtras launched voluntary benefits programme to their 1,100 employees across the UK and Ireland.

The world's largest producer of printing inks and pigments, Sun Chemical, is reviewing the employee benefits package it offers its UK based employees and as part of this process has positioned the look of its brand new voluntary benefits scheme at the core of the project.

Provided by Asperity Employee Benefits, the programme launched at the end of September to 1,100 employees across the UK and Ireland. The mix of employees is varied from many factory-based and laboratory workers to field based sales/technical assistance and general business functional personnel.

The Sun Xtras scheme is based on the UK's leading employee discounts platform, Reward Gateway, from where employees can access over 3000 specially-negotiated retail offers online, by telephone, in-store and by text message. Some of the scheme's most popular retailers include Amazon, Comet, ASDA and Sainsbury's.

Employee engagement with the Sun Xtras programme reached 50% within one month, which exceeds the average engagement expected from a mostly offline workforce.

The Sun Chemical HR team used one of the firm’s primary lines of work, producer of inks for newspapers and magazines, as a basis for its benefits communication theme. Playing on the name chosen for the benefits scheme, the headline 'Xtra, Xtra, Read All About It!' was used across the communications which included a newspaper style newsletter, workplace posters and a payslip note with a pop-out wallet card. 'Roadshows' were also held at many of the UK and Republic of Ireland sites, where employees were given demonstrations of the scheme and talked through the how Sun Xtras works.

Sally Foster, HR Director for Sun Chemical, said: “When we began this process, we weren’t quite sure where to start, as we made a number of changes to the benefits package in recent years and the whole project felt very bitty. After appointing Asperity to provide our employee discount scheme, it became clear that developing a common look and feel for all our benefits around the Sun Xtras portal was the perfect solution. Shopping discounts is the one thing that is universal to all employees – everybody needs to shop, whether it’s for their groceries at ASDA or for clothes from Marks and Spencer or Debenhams – so it is a great place to start with our benefits relaunch. They also help stretch our employees’ net pay further in the current difficult economic climate.

We are thrilled with the level of engagement so far; the launch roadshows were attended by the majority of site based staff, and feedback these events alone show it has boosted morale within the company. One employee contacted my team to say that by using the scheme to help pay for their wedding and honeymoon, they were saving over £800! Good news stories like this have been a great way of spreading the word about the benefits scheme. We also have some exciting ideas for future communications too, following the tabloid newspaper theme which proved to be a great way to capture our employees’ attention and imagination.”

Asperity’s Jenni Yates, account manager of the Sun Xtras scheme, added:

“It’s been wonderful to work with the HR team at Sun Chemical on the launch of Sun Xtras. The whole HR department has been very supportive of the scheme and put a great deal of effort into communicating the programme to employees. We feel that this is a huge factor in the scheme’s success so far, and I look forward to seeing even better results in the future as Asperity and Sun Chemical continue to work together on Sun Xtras.”