With 17,000 employees spread across 20 countries, aligning benefits globally to business objectives has long been a priority for Aker Solutions, a provider of products, systems and services to the oil and gas industry.
The company benchmarks its benefits package on a global basis in order to better understand what the market norms are in each of the countries in which it operates.
Philip Hutchinson, head of reward at Aker Solutions, says it is all about combining a global philosophy with local principles; combining a strategic approach with pragmatic delivery on the ground.
“For example, we say each country should have some form of retirement provision but we do not go down to say whether that needs to be a pension scheme or some other provision,” he explains. ”It is about making this global but on the understanding it must have some flexibility built in for local delivery,” he explains.
“Each country has its own statutory requirements, tax laws and so on. So in the UK we provide a pension scheme but in India, say, they provide what is called a provident fund, which is similar to a pension but sponsored by the state and much wider than a pension scheme. In India, too, it is quite common for employers to offer medical insurance also to cover family and in-laws.”
One of the challenges the oil and gas industry faces from an employment perspective is that it has an ageing workforce. To that end, the company recognises that benefits priorities for older workers are significantly different from younger graduates. For example, they are far more likely to be concerned with retirement planning.
For young graduates, the focus is around incentives such as help with financial planning, lifestyle benefits and assistance with career development.
“It is about knowing what to pitch, what to buy and how to sell it,” says Hutchinson. “You have to have a really good idea what the business drivers are; you need to understand what you are trying to do. Reward is a fine balance between money and psychology.”