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Annie Hayes



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Company of the week: KPMG


Cheryl Curtis
Diversity is the name of the benefits game for audit, tax and advisory service KPMG an employer of over 10,000 staff; Cheryl Curtis Benefits Manager for the firm talked to Annie Hayes, HR Zone Editor about how to attract, retain and keep staff with some carefully crafted rewards.

*Benefits stats*
Benefits offered:

  • Flexible benefits: part time working, home working, career breaks and ‘glide’ time (option to choose graduated start times over a core period), flexible working (including homeworking and part-time working.)

  • Individual bonuses.

  • Team awards.

  • Leave for public duties.

  • Well Direct: support service offering legal advice and counselling.

  • Free lunch: provided on site each day to the value of £2.75.

  • Interest free loans for graduates.

  • Maternity and parental benefits.

Most popular benefits: The option to customise the BUPA benefits package, flexing pensions to take advantage of tax and national insurance savings and buying and selling holidays.

Most unpopular benefit: The bikes to work scheme.

Benefits tip:

  • Cater for the workforce. KPMG offers 17 options already and continues to look for other ideas. Different things suit different people and you need to capture everyone’s imagination.

  • When looking at benefits it’s best to look at the bigger picture – benefits are just a part of someone’s total reward package. If your salary is out of line with the market or you don’t treat people well for example they won’t work.



“To attract and retain talented people we have to offer a market-leading reward package that sets us apart from our competitors and offers something for everyone in the diverse pool of people that come to work for KPMG,” explains Curtis whose benefits strategy is inextricably linked to building their profile as an employer of choice.

And it’s a two way process says Curtis who tells me that both sides of the formula must be balanced. Successful clients will want to work with a company that employs talented people and vice versa.

“When looking at our benefits programme, we wanted an integrated approach that would look beyond the traditional offering, at the bigger picture, and show employees the value of their total reward package. We offer a comprehensive, cost efficient, varied range of benefits.”

The key areas include:

  • Motivation Model Tool: This tool is used to find out what people want as individuals.
  • Core Benefits: A range of benefits including pensions and healthcare.
  • Flexible benefits: An offering of 17 benefits that provides choice.

From the suite of core benefits Curtis tells me that the option to customise the BUPA healthcare option is the most popular.

“We give a core outpatients cover but employees can increase that to two further levels if they choose to do so. Lots of grades have family cover. One grade gets single cover but they get the opportunity to include other family members. There is also one grade that don’t get any cover but they can choose to buy it.”

And in hot pursuit of the popularity stakes are pensions. Employees are particularly enraptured by the option to flex their pension, that is to take advantage of tax and national insurance savings by putting it through a salary sacrifice scheme.

But says Curtis, KPMG realise that rewards are about more then just the traditional pay and reward elements that motivate an employee.

The value of leisure time is strongly held by KPMG employees and outside of the core benefits the ability to buy and sell holidays is the most popular choice. Staff can trade their holiday by to up to an extra week. Everyone gets five weeks and the option to trade is therefore dealt via salary sacrifice.

Unpaid leave of between three months and three years is also available to those with at least two years’ service, making it possible for staff to realise personal ambitions.

Whilst the Bikes to work scheme is compatible with the businesses corporate social responsibility agenda it is the least popular of the suite of flexible options. Curtis believes the scheme which is still in its infancy is faltering because of the practicalities involved.

“Staff might be client facing and cycling to work may not be an option when you’re not solely office based. We’ll continue to offer it – it’s a good thing and its popularity can only but grow, we want to encourage our staff to look at alternative ways of getting work other then by car.”

So far the take up has been a mere 81 staff.

The benefits strategy employed by Curtis is one that corners around the diversity of the workforce. Variety and individual choice are the elements that underpin the objectives of finding great staff, keeping them and helping them to fulfil professional and personal ambitions.

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Annie Hayes


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