Investing in employee reward is just as important in difficult times to help businesses recover, but they may come under public scrutiny for doing so, said Jim Cowan, senior consultant, remuneration and benefits at Royal Bank of Scotland.
Speaking in an open forum at the summit in Monte Carlo, Cowan (pictured) said RBS had strong business reasons for continuing to invest in staff after being bailed out by the government. “We need to continue to invest in the workforce to help the bank recover. There is an opportunity to make fairly drastic short-term cutbacks, but everyone in the room would suffer if this hampered long-term recovery.”
Cowan said honesty and fairness to staff were vital for the bank to retain trust in its benefits programmes at a time when its credibility had been damaged. “Some employees, sadly, have seen their future wealth planning decimated by the crash of the share price,” he said. “As we communicate with our employees, we have to be very honest.”
RBS is now planning a back-to-basics approach to perks and communication, particularly around its flexible benefits plan. This will explain, for example, how staff could use perks such as retail vouchers to help their money go further in the recession.