Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective benefits strategy for organisations with fewer than 1,000 staff (Sponsored by Secondsight)


VisitScotland rewards

In 2008, this Scottish tourism body faced the significant challenges of high staff turnover, difficulty in attracting and retaining staff in the face of strong competition from private sector organisations, and poor employee perceptions of pay and benefits. Budget restrictions and government pay remit rules meant no money was available to address these issues.

After a review of the benefits it already provided, the organisation identified that the problems stemmed from employees’ perception of the package rather than a lack of benefits. To improve this, it adopted a dual strategy: to increase the range of benefits on offer by introducing new options at little or no cost, subject to certain criteria; and to communicate the options provided to staff along with the total value of their reward package.

With no budget to spend, VisitScotland had to be creative in sourcing new benefits. It used business contacts to offer discounts to staff, rebroked its pension scheme to increase life cover from two- to three-times salary, and introduced an employee assistance programme, which produced savings because occupational health costs – previously paid on a case-by-case basis – were now included.

It also introduced tax-efficient benefits via salary sacrifice, including childcare and bikes for work. Savings on employer national insurance contributions from offering benefits via salary sacrifice enabled it to meet its objective on communication. They were used to fund business cards outlining the benefits on offer, which were handed to staff at the organisation’s annual conference. This cost £250 and reached over two-thirds of the workforce.

Events are also used to promote benefits. For example, a Family Fortunes-style game was held at the annual conference, and an article on how benefits can help staff with resolutions was published around the New Year.

Runners up
Amadeus Services Made4us (entered by Motivano)
Amadeus Services operates in a highly-competitive sector with a mobile workforce. When its benefits scheme began suffering a backlash from staff, it needed to introduce a new scheme within existing budget to create renewed enthusiasm for benefits. After it introduced a new range of online voluntary benefits (including tax-efficient options offered via salary sacrifice) and online total reward statements, employee take-up increased. Overall perception and value of the scheme also improved.

Farrer & Co
This law firm introduced a flexible benefits strategy to give staff more control over how they are remunerated and make choices that suit their lifestyle. Last year, the firm also enhanced its salary review letters to include statements of employees’ overall reward potential, incorporating salary, bonus and core benefit information. Together with existing online flexible benefits statements, these highlight the total value of employees’ reward packages. The new system has improved the administration processes, accuracy and speed of use, and achieved full integration with the HR, payroll and self-service systems, resulting in time and efficiency savings for the firm’s HR team.

I-Level – I-benefit (entered by Thomsons Online Benefits)
In a competitive industry with high staff retention, this digital media organisation needed a benefits strategy that could help it retain talent and increase the number of staff referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations to find recruits. It also needed to overcome low engagement with existing paper-based communications, low take-up of benefits and poor staff perception of their package. The company created a People plan, comprising health and wellbeing initiatives, a corporate social responsibility plan and recognition scheme. It also moved to a totally online strategy.

See full list of winners and finalists for the Employee Benefits Awards 2010