Employee Benefits Report For Financial Directors – November 2008

Pay cuts preferred to redundancies
Exec pay in retail still rising
Firms offer discount plans in a downturn
Falling shares hit defined benefit schemes
Expatriate figures double in three years
Legal eagles clip their wings

Employer profile
Employee benefits at Centrica


Measure return on investment on benefits
Update on pension accounting standards
Maximise tax breaks by transferring Sips to Sipps
The rise of healthcare cash plans
The pros and cons of bundled healthcare products
Minimise your corporate tax on company car fleets
Good sales incentive management boosts profits
Special report: Defined contribution pensions

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Editor’s comment

Every employer I have spoken to in recent weeks is taking an extremely close look their offerings, reviewing providers and going back to basics on why they offer what they offer – to ensure it really does help drive human resource objectives. In most cases, they realise that cutting benefits is not a quick and easy option. The fallout can have major implications for staff loyalty and engagement during tough times.

The decisions by JCB and CLSA, the Asian brokerage, to use pay cuts to save jobs is an interesting one. We will be watching with interest to see if other workforces and their unions and managers follow suit. Some believe that this attitude to coping with the downturn indicates a new sense of corporate social responsibility among colleagues as they focus on protecting the jobs for as many of the workforce as possible even if it means sarificing personal cash rewards.

It is this link between reward and psychological engagement that makes it so hard to measure the return on investment on any part of the reward and benefits package.

However, we set one of our journalists on the task finding out if, and how, employers can measure the ROI on the money put into benefits. In the coverstory of this quarterly report we found that while pinning down an ROI in pounds and pence is not feasible, it is also not appropriate. However there are plenty of other measures in use that show the benefits of benefits to an organisation’s human capital and employee engagement.

We also take a closer look at sales incentives and how these are managed. To date, setting incentives has largely been left to the sales director, but there is an increasing move in many organisations (particularly in the USA) to get the HR director and FD involved to ensure that incentives match overall profit objectives. The HRD and FD can also keep an eye on compliance, governance and audit issues, while the sales director still takes ownership of the day-today details of individual and team plans. Some employers have cut significant costs and driven up profits by using this joined up approach.

Debi O’Donovan, editor, Employee Benefits Report for Financial Directors