An introduction to the world of benefits events

David Woods, reporter, Employee Benefits magazine:

As a newcomer to the benefits industry, I arrived for the first day of the Employee Benefits Exhibition and Conference at the Business Design Centre in London, not really knowing what to expect. However, people who were unable to attend day one of the event have certainly missed out. So far today, delegates have learnt how to be storytellers in order to improve employee communications and heard from a wide variety of speakers about benefits in the UK and beyond.

The opening keynote session from Jeff Grout, former UK managing director of recruitment consultancy Robert Half International, on Smarter communication was as easy to listen to, as it was inspirational. Grout explained the importance of employers acting as a storyteller when communicating with employees. The audience was presented with the challenge of making their communications with staff memorable as demonstrated by the numerous stories and anecdotes told by Grout during his speech.

One of the sessions which followed the opening address, was a masterclass session given by Duncan Brown, director at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and John Titmus, HR director at BSI Group, on the topic of Total reward to motivate and retain your workforce. In a step-by-step guide, Titmus explained how developing the total rewards strategy at BSI Group had been like a journey where his team are using the learning process to further improve benefits.

Focusing on the outcomes and the lessons to be learned from the journey so far, he added that the most important part of total reward for employees was understanding and echoed Grout’s earlier advice on the importance of communication.

Looking at benefits outside of the UK, meanwhile, in a session titled Managing global and local approaches to employee benefits, which was aimed at invited guests working in this area, Debra Corey, director, compensation and benefits at Honeywell and David Clifford, global head of performance and reward at ABN Amro, gave delegates a guide to harmonising benefits provision for employees internationally.

Corey acknowledged the difficulties involved in managing an international benefits scheme that is consistent, competitive, contemporary and cost effective. Both experts also highlighted that employers must respect the differences between different cultures when introducing perks across border.††††††

As the day draws to a close, I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.