Employee Benefits Awards 2012: Benefits team of the year

Kraft Foods, entered by Benefex

The benefits and reward team at Kraft Foods successfully tackled the huge challenge of harmonising employee terms and conditions in 2011 following the organisation’s high-profile acquisition of Cadbury.

For the Cadbury acquisition to be a success, each member of the team was involved in the complex task of reviewing and consolidating 17 cash and benefits components, as well as migrating more than half of the employee population to new terms and conditions, and all with no disruption to the business. One judge said it must have been incredibly challenging for the team to be rigorous about sticking to reward strategy without being distracted by the ‘noise’ going on around the acquisition.

The integration of reward and benefits was run as a business initiative, executed by the reward and benefits team, rather than an HR initiative. To enable them to achieve their aims, Kraft’s reward team was divided into smaller sub-teams, each allocated to managing a key set of objectives, projects, deliverables and stakeholders (including members of the executive team, union representatives, staff councils and individual employees).

The team also had to communicate the changes to employees and managers in a variety of ways, with an emphasis on face-to-face messages.

Commenting on the operation, Masha Boldyreva, compensation and benefits lead, UK and Ireland, said: “It was a commitment to the business and treating the business as our own. It is an incredible partnership. We have a really complementary skillset and quite a bit of fun.”

The project was an overwhelming success. Of the 3,121 employees who were required to change their terms and conditions, all but two agreed to the new harmonised terms, and 98% signed up before the agreed deadline. Take-up of the entrant’s flexible benefits scheme saw an increase of more than 63% compared with the previous scheme operated by Cadbury.


Aviva, My Aviva Reward, entered by Aon Hewitt
In 2011, Aviva adopted a new model for its reward team, introducing a reward partner role to support HR directors and business partners and a centre of expertise for benefit design and delivery. Pairing a junior with a senior reward consultant has enabled them to develop their skills more quickly. This also enables greater collaboration and better supports Aviva’s business strategies.

The team has also implemented changes to the firm’s benefits package as part of its work to bring in a total reward offering. Moves included introducing online enrolment for its pension scheme, changing share scheme providers and an extensive communications campaign.

Cancer Research UK
With a reward team comprising just three people, they have to achieve a lot in a tight timeframe, so have come up with some creative solutions. One is a successful internship programme that allows the reward team to have extra hands on deck and share its knowledge with people looking to start a career in the benefits arena.

Linklaters Rewards and Global Mobility Team
Last year, this entrant began some significant projects that delivered value to the business globally. Key achievements included: changing pension providers, thereby reducing annual management charges and consultancy costs; creating a benefits helpdesk; linking job families to salary bands; and taking a new approach to evaluating job roles.

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Marks and Spencer Reward Team
The Marks and Spencer reward team has aligned itself to the retailer’s key business focus by placing employee engagement at the heart of what it does. It has placed emphasis on: building the retailer’s reputation as a good place to work, introducing new benefits, and enhancing existing schemes, such as its voluntary benefits plan. The team has used a number of approaches, such as working with other business areas to get results and utilising the specialisms of internal and external stakeholders.

Read more about the Employee Benefits Awards 2012