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Employee Benefits: Do rewards win respect? By Sarah Fletcher


Can you create a dynamic, driven team without plying staff with perks? Sarah Fletcher asked experts from Cancer Research UK and Clarks Shoes whether employee retention rests upon a generous benefits policy, or if a strong company culture builds loyalty that lasts.

Elaine Bergin, Compensation and Benefits Manager, Clarks Shoes

  • What part do benefits play in the reward mix?

    I think it is important to take a holistic view of the overall reward package offered to employees as benefits can play a major part in the overall attractiveness of the package on offer.

    Most people come to work because they have to earn money – so yes, cash is high on the agenda. However, there are many other reasons why people choose the job they do and the organisation they work within, so other types of benefits can appeal to these motivators.

    I think this is why the move towards total reward, and the total reward statement has been so popular as raising awareness of what other benefits are available within your grasp and getting employees to recognise them as benefits (something they wouldn’t get if they didn’t do that job) is quite a challenge.

  • How can HR turn benefits to their advantage?

    I believe that in the process of identifying what kind of person you want working for you you can identify the kind of benefits that may attract them, motivate them to do well, and then retain them.

    For example, these may be benefits that are common in the marketplace for work of a particular kind, such as company cars or healthcare, or they could be benefits that encourage the kinds of company culture or behaviours that you wish to embed, such as recognition schemes and flexible working options.

    I think HR can do a great deal in terms of researching this at the point of job design, and using benefits to the advantage of the organisation they work within to attract the kind of people they want working for them (within the law of course!) and encourage and motivate people to operate and behave in the way they want them to.

  • What are your top tips for ensuring your organisation’s benefits strategy is effective?

    • Know your employees – tap into what it is that pushes their buttons.
    • Evaluate their effectiveness – make sure you sweat the asset of each benefit and that it is getting you what you want at the price you can afford.
    • Change them if they don’t work – don’t be afraid to be bold and tackle ineffective spend on benefits that don’t give a return on investment.
    • Remain competitive in the marketplace you operate within – stay ahead of what other people are doing

    Tom Russell, Director of Strategic Resourcing and Reward, Cancer Research UK

  • What part do benefits play in the reward mix?

    As a not-for-profit organisation, our benefits are not of the same type as the private sector. We have to be as creative as possible without rewards in order to make it cost effective.

    Benefits are important but not central. We seek to encourage and promote pride in the organisation and its culture, including offering learning and development opportunities.

  • How can HR turn benefits to their advantage?

    HR should see benefits as part of an overall strategy to attract, retain and motivate staff. It should be integrated within the company, to understand why people join.

    Benefits are not the central reason to work in an organisation. It rests with us to see the wider picture in terms of culture and learning and development.

  • What are your top tips for ensuring your organisation’s benefits strategy is effective?

    • Benchmark your strategy against the external world – look at all sectors, not just that in which you work.
    • Keep reviewing your policies to check your strategy is working. It might work for another company, but it has to work for yours.

    Do you think the company car could make or break your career choice? Post your comments below.

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