Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective benefits strategy in a public sector organisation


Kent County Council Kent rewards

Like many public sector organisations, this entrant has a strong focus on increasing workforce diversity, so it was important that it offered a wide-ranging benefits package. Also, because not all staff are computer literate, it was important that any websites used were easy to navigate. Many staff earn less than £25,000 a year, so need to be able manage their disposable income carefully.

Bearing these aims in mind, the council developed Kent rewards, a web-based, one-stop-shop total reward interactive communication tool that shows each employee his or her financial and non-financial benefits.

Within the Kent rewards online facility, the council has cleverly brought together the intangible benefits of working for the public sector and more conventional tangible benefits into a single place. Employees can rate the value of the intangible benefits (for example, homeworking or staff clubs) in terms of how important those perks are to them.

In turn, the council can use these ratings as feedback to develop better benefits or enhance its current offerings.
The panel felt it was particularly clever to allow staff to rate these intangible benefits themselves because people value particular benefits differently, so the resulting total reward statement is tailored perfectly to the employee, with little work from the employer. One judge said: “A great example of how to use technology without over-complicating the solution.”

As a result of this strategy, Kent County Council feels able to compete with the private sector for staff. As many as 65% of its employees are highly or very satisfied with the benefits, more than 42% have used Kent rewards, and employee engagement levels had risen 22 percentage points to 82% in December 2009.

Highly commended
Warrington Borough Council Total reward package
This council used the compulsory equal pay review and job evaluation process to look at its reward offering. This was an excellent way to deal with the downside of pay equalisation and the difficult process of removing established allowances. The enhancement of the benefits offering at such a difficult time can be held up as an example to other councils. Some 90% of the union vote supported the total reward package.

Runners up
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 4U staff support and benefits
This NHS trust set itself the aim to become an employer of choice. It already offered a range of benefits, including the NHS pension scheme and excellent holiday entitlement, and decided to implement a phased introduction of a wide range of excellent new tax-efficient benefits offered through salary sacrifice, including childcare, carer, health and travel benefits.

University of Lincoln Your benefits, your choice at UOL
This very health-focused entry delivers against a corporate aim to have a healthier workforce. Despite the narrow focus on health, it has a number of ingenious elements and the university has made good use of its internal resources. It uses existing staff to run lunchtime classes and salary sacrifice for university courses.

VisitScotland VisitScotland rewards
Creativity and innovation are at the heart of this submission, which communicated effectively what was already offered to staff in the face of poor pay and high turnover. Strong statistics on turnover and participation lend credibility to this submission, which shows how much can be achieved with very little. Staff turnover dropped from 22% to 13%, and the rating staff gave to pay and benefits increased by 20%.

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