Getting the balance right between pay and reward is crucial in any industry but it’s an area where the public sector is currently facing some unique challenges. With a limit on salary increases, other areas of the reward mix become more important in the employee value proposition.

In the past year, as the sole provider of employee benefits to UK Government departments and agencies, we’ve seen first-hand just how true this is.

Working with over 44 different public sector organisations – ranging from Defra, the Department of Health and the Gambling Commission to Ofsted, the Home Office and Crown Commercial Services – has provided us with some great insight into what employers need to get right to deliver benefits and reward that really make a difference.

Tailored solutions are key

Until not that long ago, employers would offer employees a range of benefits with multiple log-ins and platforms from an array of employee benefit brands.

However, today employers are clear that they want a platform which is in line with their organisation’s brand identify, which keeps the sign-up process slick and simple and gives them the choice to offer the benefits they think are right for their people.

The logic is clear: what is simple for them to manage will be simple and better to use, and therefore more attractive, for employees.

Choice for employees is important too

Of course, this demand for choice and adaptability is really reflecting what employees want from their benefits proposition: the ability to pick the benefits which fit with their needs at any given time.

Giving employees the power to do this not only reflects the expectations they bring into the workplace as consumers but also enhances the value of the benefits themselves.

It’s new dawn, it’s a new day

Not surprisingly, the core elements of the benefits mix like childcare vouchers and cycle-to-work schemes remain hugely popular with employees. But what we have also seen over the past 12 months is the rise in popularity of benefits that are relative newcomers.

A good example is our employee savings platform which, where it has been included, has proved hugely popular by providing significant savings for employees on things from shopping to holidays and entertainment.

Change is coming

A final, powerful learning, is about the simple power of change in driving engagement and take-up of employee benefits. For public and private sector employers alike where HR and benefits teams face numerous daily challenges, it isn’t unusual for the simple act of reviewing your benefits proposition to fall down the to-do list in the course of the business year.

Making a commitment to change and refreshing what you offer your employees is a sure-fire way of driving up the number of people who use them.

Of course, none of these points are unique to the public sector but they highlight how much a well thought-out, well designed and well executed benefits scheme can support the recruitment and retention of the right talent at a time when it is needed most.

Andy Philpott is Marketing and Sales Director for Edenred UK 

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