Benefits advertising

Employers could be missing a trick by not publicising their benefits package, says Vicki Taylor

Case studies: Carillion, LogicaCMG

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On a recent trip to the US, a colleague spotted a poster on the window of all Starbucks coffee shops advertising the benefits the chain gives its staff. On the face of it, the poster was unrelated to the organisation’s recruitment advertising campaign, therefore begging the question of what it was for.

It may be employers are starting to realise that the perks they offer not only influence potential staff, but can also have an impact on customers and suppliers.

One company that has been particularly vocal about the benefits it offers to staff is McDonald’s. Keen to refute the view that working at McDonald’s is a dead-end job, the company’s vice president of people, David Fairhurst, has been promoting the benefits of being employed by the fast-food chain. He has commissioned in-store posters extolling the virtues of working for the company.

Alistair Denton, managing director of Motivano, believes outlining benefits offered to staff in-store and via shop windows is a growing trend. He says that his own impression of McDonald’s as an employer has been influenced by a sign in a branch he visited advertising the benefits of working for them.

“I think it will be a growing trend. It is about positioning yourselves as an organisation that is a good place to work. It isn’t just about benefits, but is about how well you are treated and positioning yourselves as an employer of choice,” says Denton.

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger (which is a-third owned by McDonald’s) also puts posters up in-store advertising the benefits of working for the company.

These state how the firm invests in training and development, and that 75% of its managers have been promoted from team leaders. It also gives the average hourly rate of a team member after working for the company for six months and says employees can wear jeans.

The posters are intended first and foremost as a recruitment tool, but demonstrating that staff training and development is important to the company could also have a beneficial effect on its customers.

Andrew Batty, managing director of recruitment advertising company Creative Marketing Solutions, believes more organisations should consider the effect that promoting the benefits they offer has on the external world, not just on potential recruits.

“All organisations should remember that many more people see their recruitment advertising than people who might be interested in that particular job,” he explains.

Some employers may also be missing a trick by not including information about their benefits when they do advertise for staff.

“If an employer has benefits it feels would help it attract candidates both in higher numbers and [of better] quality then we would say that they should highlight them in the ad,” explains Batty.

However, Charles Wasdell, head of marketing at recruitment advertising website, says very few companies mention specific benefits. “[Employers] tend not to [write] too much about the actual benefits, they’ll [say they] have a salary and plus package, but they are not massively specific.”

In his opinion, organisations that don’t go into detail are potentially missing a valuable opportunity, especially if they offer particularly generous benefits.

What Wasdell does see in recruitment advertising, however, is a tendency to try and build a picture of the corporate culture, with organisations mentioning perks such as work-life balance policies.

“The cultural aspects are just as important as the financial packages. What we have noticed is a lot of people using the cultural aspects to sell the business and hopefully creating a drive, so that even if you don’t want the job advertised it might create interest in that company,” he explains.

Some employers also state the benefits that they offer on their website, a course of action which can impress both potential recruits and other people, be it customers or suppliers who stumble across the information.

Motivano’s Denton explains he has seen an increase in the number of clients laying out the value of their benefits package online.

Some employers are taking this one step further by allowing potential recruits to access their online reward platforms so they can check the benefits package they would get if they joined the company.

One such organisation is construction and property consultancy RLF, which currently employers around 180 people.

Bozena Benton, head of HR, explains: “[We use a] web-based software programme from Screen Pages that allows us to manage our flexible benefits online, as well as enabling people to request holidays online and record absence online.

“As part of the system we have set up a fictitious employee. We give a user name and password to potential applicants to go onto the system and check out the benefits we offer our staff. We do this when offers are made to staff who are thinking about joining us.”

The company also plans to make the log-in details available on the website to anyone thinking of applying, not just those who have already been offered a job.

Benton hopes that the strategy will pay off by helping potential job seekers to weigh up the differences between RLF and its rivals. “When you look at the package we tend to be far more generous than our competitors,” she explains.

RLF offers a range of flexible and core benefits, including death-in-service, pensions, a healthcare cash plan, childcare vouchers, the option to buy and sell holiday entitlement, and discounted travel.

Benton believes the advantages of the strategy are not just limited to helping it attract potential recruits? “If clients see we are very serious about recruitment and retention, which means our [staff] turnover will be reduced, it shows we can give a continuity of staff to clients in terms of projects and future [work],” she concludes.

Case study: Carillion

Michael Cope, reward manager at construction services company Carillion, believes it is a “no brainer” to specify the benefits staff are offered in recruitment advertising, particularly if the company wants to be known as an employer of choice.

He says: “One of our company values is openness so we wouldn’t be living our company values if we were [only] saying ‘salary and attractive benefits package’.”

As well as including perks in recruitment advertising, Carillion also puts information on its website so applicants can find out about the packages on offer.

“People can do job searches. [The website] explains about the company and what roles are available. It also has information on what rewards and benefits we offer, ranging from training and development, right up to how we set pay.”

Cope thinks it is unlikely that suppliers and customers will be influenced by its recruitment advertising, but says it could sway potential future recruits.

Case study: LogicaCMG

Although IT services and wireless telecoms company LogicaCMG doesn’t intentionally promote its staff benefits to the external world, it hopes the efforts it has made to publicise them internally will help the message spread by word of mouth.

Graham Drewitt, former compensation and benefits manager UK, who has since moved to be reward and benefits manager, UK operations for oil giant BP, says: “We put an enormous effort into publicising benefits over the last 18 months.”

He hopes that this has helped create “a cultural feel” for the company that, along with the benefits on offer, will become apparent when staff are talking to their mates who might be thinking of joining LogicaCMG or going to a competitor.

The company, which offers a flexible benefits plan with around 14 options alongside a voluntary benefits scheme, doesn’t provide specific information about benefits in its recruitment advertising. But Drewitt says it could be missing an opportunity, by not publicising the work that the company does around benefits.