British Sugar revamped benefits to suit modern workforce

The language and emphasis of total reward need to change to better reflect the priorities of modern employees , but it still has value as a concept, says Henk Verhoek, head of reward at British Sugar.

British Sugar factory

“When I look at the discussions going on, I do think there is one thing the industry often misses,” he says. “When thinking about total reward, it must not just be about pay or benefits, but also about things such as learning and development, the working environment, leadership and the wider opportunities employers offer within the business. Employers have to take these into consideration when they are thinking about total reward.”

In November 2013, British Sugar unveiled a new online benefits portal, My Staff Shop, for its 1,250 employees, offering access to benefits such as a bikes-for-work scheme, childcare vouchers and a healthcare cash plan. 

Its focus this year has been on generating staff awareness, engagement and take-up, with 67% of its employees now registered, compared with 5% before the portal launched.

“We are very focused on increasing awareness and sharing success stories,” says Verhoek.

“The philosophy we have is to be mindful of the different generations within an organisation. Employers have to have a suite of benefits that appeals to different age groups and need to be brave and regularly renew them.

“When you are speaking about total reward and just talk about benefits, there can be a disconnect, so you have to bring the different elements together. Total reward needs to be a much broader concept than just pay and benefits, the monetary side of things. It needs to be looked at as a whole.”

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But Verhoek says employers need to consider how their pay scales compare with those of their competitors because employees are always concerned about whether they are fairly paid.