Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective international reward strategy

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WINNER
Trowers and Hamlins TH&me (entered by Thomsons Online Benefits)

Implementing a global flexible benefits scheme is no small task in itself, but to put one in place in just eight weeks, as this law firm did, is an even greater achievement. The new scheme replaced a previous, unsuccessful, paper-based flex plan. A key driver was the need to overcome a very UK-centric approach to benefits. At the time the project began, the UK-based HR team did not even have basic information about benefits offered abroad. To overcome this, the HR director visited each overseas location.

Although the benefits offered vary from country to country, they are all grouped under the same four headings: financial protection, such as pension and life cover; health and wellbeing, such as medical insurance and fitness allowance; discounts, which offer staff local deals; and additional benefits, including banking services, dry cleaning and IT equipment.

In Middle East countries where the firm has a presence, its flexible benefits mark it out from its rivals, which mostly offer cash-only remuneration deals.

The judges were impressed by the firm’s approach. One said: “Use of international flex is still in its infancy and this is a good example from a firm with Middle East representation. The scheme was clearly helped by the uniform territory that was being serviced, with legislation in parts of Europe making the approach considerably harder to deliver.”

Results were impressive. Just nine months after the scheme launched, it had reduced the firm’s NI contributions by £97,000 a year and cut £33,000 a year from the cost of benefits administration. The firm has fully recovered the £70,000 cost of the scheme, with an 86% return on investment.

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Benefits take-up has also improved. In the UK, it has risen by 33%, while participation in international offices has grown by a remarkable 400%.

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