It is really important to know how your core benefits offering stacks up in the market. But being in line with the market offering is just a ticket to the game; most value comes when employees consider benefits to be of value to them.
Most salary surveys provide a rich source of benefits intelligence and an opportunity to see how competitive various aspects of a package are. That is important, but what is even more important is how this knowledge is then put to use to inform decisions about reward.
Time and time again, we see employers struggling to understand in finite detail what a small handful of direct competitors offer, and then trying to match that package letter for letter, seeing this as the best way to ensure they attract, motivate and retain talent.
The danger is that this leads to a boring blanket of vanilla benefits offering no excitement, little impact and no hint of what the organisation is all about.
Sensible employers will ensure their overall benefits package is broadly where they want it to be in the market. Core aspects such as leave, cars, pension and healthcare will be competitive unless something else equally as important is in place.
But the braver organisations will then think even harder and go beyond the norm to seek out differentiators, searching for the things that align well with the values and beliefs of their organisations, yet truly stand out.
Consider the big four professional services firms that offer days off on birthdays, or the offshore platform offering single-occupancy rooms and quality chefs, or the media company rewarding employees with hard-to-obtain tickets. These are the things that employees will talk about with colleagues, friends and potential new hires.
Employers should use benefits intelligence to ensure their overall benefits offering is competitive in the market, but then look beyond the data to ensure their offering is unique.
Samantha Gee is client director at Innecto Reward Consulting