There are few organisations I come across these days who don’t have some sort of aspiration to be an employer of choice.

For mid-sized and smaller organisations in particular, being seen as a great place to work is critical to competing effectively for talent against larger employers who may be perceived to offer better pay or career progression.

The problem is that while many aspire to this goal, few organisations actually achieve it. The 2016 edition of our Reward and Benefits Research which we are publishing this week throws up three common gaps which get in the way of being seen as a great place to work.

The insight gap

The first mistake employers make is failing to look at what the rest of the market is doing to attract talent.

Just 30% of employers we surveyed said they did any sort of regular benchmarking to check of their pay and benefits were competitive.

Even fewer – just under one in five employers – look at the kind of people they need to recruit and build a proposition which appeals to those people. In order to stand out, you need to be different and show that you are the kind of organisation which understands the needs and interests of your employees. That cannot be done effectively without investing time in insight and research.

The innovation gap

A second area where employers fall short is in thinking about what will make a truly attractive pay and benefits proposition.

Our research shows that a lot more can be done to bring in new benefits like salary sacrifice schemes which save employees money on everything from cars to technology as well and non-traditional policy led benefits like flexible working, compressed hours and remote working – all attractive ‘lifestyle’ benefits valued highly by employees.

The way reward and benefits is offered matters a lot too. Technology should play a critical role in enabling employees to manage and take advantage of the benefits through smart phones and tablets – now the dominant form of internet access. Despite this only a minority of employers are embracing technology to improve the employee experience of benefits.

The communication gap

The final gap is the failure of organisations to ensure they bring alive their reward and benefits proposition for employees.

Six in ten employers say they can do better and a similar number recognise that consistent and creative communication – around specific issues and key points of the year – is critical to improving. But the area that many organisations need to address is the role of managers in engaging employees in the reward and benefits proposition. This is critical because it is managers who are the face of your organisation and the ones who bring alive the actions you are taking to be a great place to work – they are also the ones who can listen to what your employees need so you can make the right changes to your reward and benefits proposition when necessary.

Of course there is a lot more that goes into the broader employee proposition –the nature of work and career progression – but as people go about doing their jobs every day, it is the small things that you do to reward, recognise and support them that make a big difference.

Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at employee benefits provider Edenred. You can follow me at @andy_philpott.

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