Cambridgeshire County Council develops total reward

Cambridgeshire County Council is developing a total reward strategy to offer staff greater flexibility and improve employee engagement.

It is currently looking to place greater emphasis on its existing reward package when recruiting staff, as well as increasing flexibility around its perks to enable employees to tailor their package to suit their needs.

Only a handful of organisations in the public sector have so far embraced the concept of total reward.

Stephen Moir, director of reward, said that the move to total reward was part of the council’s people strategy, introduced in July last year, which set out the organisation’s aims until 2010. He added that he would like employees to have some flexibility by this date, but felt that the council would be unlikely to introduce a full flexible benefits scheme.

The organisation is currently testing its IT systems to assess their capability for developing and issuing total reward statements for staff, which it hopes to implement during 2007.

"If we purely looked at salary levels, people probably don’t perceive the total investment that the County Council makes as their employer in them. Giving them that information on an annual basis would start to give them a very different perspective of their whole employment proposition with us," said Moir.

However, these statements would initially be unlikely to include information about all of the perks provided by the council. The value of its flexible working arrangements, and training and development opportunities, for example, can be difficult to define.

"Ultimately, I would like to get this tailored down to an individual total reward statement so everyone gets absolute clarity," added Moir.

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Last month, the public sector was criticised for employers’ low levels of commitment to work-life balance strategies in Work-life balance in the public sector: rhetoric vs. reality, a report by the Work Foundation and commissioned by public services union Unison.

Moir, however, disagreed with the findings. "I would strongly disagree that the public sector is not committed to work-life balance. From my experience, the investment in flexible working practices is significantly far [more] advanced in the public sector, and the accessibility and take up of these options is much stronger than in the private sector."