Staying awake at the CIPD Annual Rewards Conference

David Woods, reporter at Employee Benefits: It seems that lot of speakers have an unnerving fear about speaking during the ‘graveyard shift’ at conferences. This is otherwise known as the hour just after a hearty lunch, when the lure of a comfy seat can prove too much for the weary delegate and the temptation of an afternoon nap becomes an occupational hazard.

Luckily delegates at the CIPD Annual Reward Conference (and I) were treated to an insightful presentation comparing the idea of total reward in the financial sector and the public sector.

Jim Cowan, senior consultant in remuneration and benefits at Royal Bank of Scotland explained that rewarding contribution is at the heart of what the financial services company does. He talked about how RBS had “upped its game” in the last ten years with regards to total reward by giving staff flexible benefits and targeting communications about perks.

Segmentation is a technique that more and more employers appear to be adopting. Among them is Kent County Council. Colin Miller, reward manager at the council, took to the podium (following Cowan) to also explain how segmentation and targeted communication was important in his sector when communicating benefits.

He believes that it is important to give staff more choice in their benefits in order to make them more engaged with the organisation.†

Miller suggested that if benefits communication is targeted properly to the right members of staff, they will realise that they have benefits they didn’t know were there. This can increase take up of benefits and lead to staff motivation and engagement.

Put into the context of communication, a man in his 50’s might not be thrilled by the prospect of a company offering salary sacrifice childcare vouchers, but he will be interested in pension information targeted at him.

The moral of the afternoon’s story is simple. Staff need choice and they need to know about the benefits that will most interest them considering their demographic and time of life.

I think that was a lesson well worth staying awake for.