EXCLUSIVE: Konecta UK harmonises benefits and creates grading structure

Konecta UK has harmonised benefits for its 380 employees, created a grading structure for its roles, and added in a variety of new benefits.

The organisation took over an outsourcing contract from Santander in 2008 (when it was still known as Abbey National but was a subsidiary of Grupo Santander), and carried out a transfer of undertakings (protection of employment (Tupe)) exercise as part of that agreement. Its employee base is currently made up of 80% Konecta staff, 15% Tupe staff from Santander, and 5% agency workers.

Sharon Strutt, HR advisor at Konecta, said: “We did a benchmarking exercise at the start of 2012. We identified that we were not as competitive with benefits as we needed to be.

“We wanted to address that and, at the same time, address the discrepancy between the Tupe and Konecta terms. We also realised the reward structure was quite flat, there was no differentiation in terms of recognising loyalty.”

The harmonisation exercise took place in February, in conjunction with Johnson Fleming and Pruhealth.

The harmonisation includes:

  • Life assurance, which was previously offered to Tupe staff as a direct link to their pension scheme, is now available to all staff at four-times basic salary.
  • A health cash plan, previously only offered to middle management staff and above (5% of the employee base) through provider Westfield Health, is now available to all staff and their dependents.
  • A maternity-return bonus, previously only offered to Tupe staff, is now available to everyone as a lump-sum payment of one month’s salary after the employee has returned for a period of 12 months.

The organisation has also enhanced its payroll-giving scheme by adding employer-matched contributions up to £20 per month.

In addition, it has increased its holiday allowance incrementally based on grades, so staff can be awarded for length of service, from 32 days to either 35 days as an advisor job titles and 43 days for directors; and tiered its long-term sickness pay so that it peaks at 25 weeks on full pay, followed by 25 weeks at half pay, rather than 15 days over 12 months, which was offered under Tupe terms.

New benefits introduced by the organisation include:

  • Group income protection, which has been introduced for middle management staff and above.
  • A private medical insurance (PMI) scheme, provided by Pruhealth, for middle management and above, which can be extended to spouses and dependents.
  • A development bonus, which is performance-related, dependent on grade and paid monthly at a sum between £200-300.
  • An emergency childcare scheme provided by My Family Care.
  • Volunteering days, for which the firm will donate £8 an hour up to a maximum of £485 per calendar year per organisation that benefits from the project.
  • Holiday purchase, up to five days per year.

Communication of the changes took a variety of channels. “We held announcement sessions with small groups of 12-to-15 employees,” said Strutt. “We [issued] briefing packs, information documents, had elected representatives from our employee forum, had individual consultations for Tupe members, and then introduced new contracts and employee handbooks.”

Read also the Mergers & Acquisitions supplement 2011

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