Case study: Council designs benefits to have wide appeal

Kent County Council (KCC) has designed a wide-ranging benefits package to appeal to as many of its 47,000 employees as possible.

Its voluntary benefits scheme, KentRewards, for example, offers discounts on products such as food shopping, clothes, entertainment and leisure to employees, regardless of age or family status.

Jane Vivier, former reward adviser at KCC, says: “When introducing or promoting benefits we don’t necessarily think in terms of the traditional family but realise and appreciate that our employees have different circumstances and needs. While it might look as if some benefits are family-centric, [such as] childcare vouchers, flexible working and parental leave, we also realise that employees may require one or some of these to suit their lifestyles. For example, single parents could benefit from childcare vouchers while those with eldercare or study commitments might appreciate flexible working.”

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The council is also keen to avoid stereotypes when marketing its benefits. Vivier explains: “We have done marketing around school holidays pointing out the savings [via KentRewards] to parents, but have never used the words ‘mother’ or ‘father’, as we understand that the ‘traditional’ family may not be valid for a high proportion of our staff.” She explains this is particularly relevant as half of the council’s staff are aged 45 years or over.

“If your reward offering is modelled in response to employee feedback and focus groups, it is unlikely to be discriminatory against those without families,” Vivier adds.