Ian Hodson: Why learning and development support needs to be offered in reward packages

The evolution of the public sector over the last five years, and the need to recruit a different skillset to meet the needs of a different budget-focused business model, has required benefits professionals to create a different type of reward package.

Ian Hodson

Public sector employers’ reward packages traditionally had very good pension scheme and pay structures at their core, with reactive support for the likes of staff sickness, redundancy and parental leave existing on the periphery. In comparison, private sector employers have tended to offer staff much more of a proactive reward package linked to business targets and strategy, as well as motivation, performance-related pay and the culture and feel of their workplace.

But employees are now demanding more flexible ways of working, including career breaks and sabbaticals, requiring employers to offer staff development in different ways to meet these needs. For example, we find ourselves looking at how development and technology agendas can be integrated to meet the needs of both our organisation and our employees. 

But learning and development is not just linked to the generation entering the workforce for the first time, where we are much more aware of the increase in priority of development from an employer, but also at other points of the employee lifecycle. The concept of lifelong learning is gaining momentum among employees of all ages, along with the expectation to work for longer and the need to be skilled to allow for this.

Retraining in later life

We also now see staff more willing to retrain in later life for a second career, where life experiences and circumstances may enable them to choose a career of choice, which may be more of an enabler towards personal interests or a sense of fulfilment.

The approach of many public sector organisations of investing in employee development far beyond regulatory training has allowed, with support from marketing, for a proposition of development to be clearly articulated and encompass aspects from financial education and planning, confidence building, personal development and progressive competency-based programmes for staff.

I believe that the incorporation of development will be the key area of focus for employers of choice in the next 12 months, and those that get it right will reap the rewards for doing so.

Ian Hodson is reward and benefits manager at the University of Lincoln