Reward may never be the same again says Purnell of Tesco

The recession, consumer trends and workforce demographics are the three key factors that will impact reward and benefits in the coming years, according to Sarah Purnell (pictured), head of UK reward and benefits at Tesco.


Speaking on ‘The outlook for reward and benefits as the economy improves’ at the Employee Benefits Summit in Alicante, Spain, on 14 May, Purnell said: “Reward may never be the same again.

“The package we have today may not be the answer for tomorrow. We are in a different world. Things have changed.”

She explained that the recession has caused people to think about things in a different way, which has changed how they perceive their reward package.

For example, as pay rises failed to keep pace with inflation, employees’ focus on their total package increased and they placed greater importance on other elements.

“Make sure you are choosing the benefits with the highest perceived value,” said Purnell. “Something that was suitable a few years ago might not be hitting the mark now. Heightened awareness and higher expectations are likely to stay.”

Consumer trends

Consumer trends are also driving employees’ expectations and perceptions of benefits, added Purnell. For example, the trend among consumers to shop around for the best deals and the choice they now expect is also reflected in how they approach their reward and benefits package.

As the economy improves, the jobs market becomes more buoyant and technology makes it even easier for people to compare and consider their choice of employer more carefully, employers must ensure their reward package differentiates them from competitors, said Purnell.

Workforce diversity

For the first time, employers must also consider the needs of five different generations within the workplace.

“When young people today reach 30, 40 or 50, they are not going to want the same as people [of those ages] today and we need to remember that,” said Purnell.

“Different generations are going to want different things because it is what they have come to expect as they have grown up. Their expectations of adult life are fundamentally different.”

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She said that this may relate to simple things such as when they expect to receive a state pension and when they expect to retire.

“It might be simple things like receiving a state pension or what a normal retirement age is.”