Improving reward for employees is important, but it is no substitute for good, effective management practices, says Tim Fevyer, director of reward and policy at Specsavers
It is not every day that an HR professional takes a private plane to a meeting, but for Tim Fevyer, director of reward and policy at Specsavers, this is a regular occurrence. During his weekly flight to the optical firm’s head office in Guernsey, Fevyer has the opportunity to discuss work with his colleagues.
Specsavers, which has 18,000 staff, operates its stores on a partnership basis. “Each partner has a real vested interest in the performance of the business they are running, but the partnership we operate and the running of that business really helps hold it together and creates a strong sense of values across the business,” says Fevyer.
Although he began his career as an HR generalist, Fevyer’s interest in the analytical side of people management led to a move into reward strategy, then into reward and benefits. Fevyer says his biggest career achievements have been introducing a flexible benefits scheme and establishing new pay structures. “These things have given the opportunity to identify differences and value created for the business. It is really satisfying to see that.”
Fevyer has learnt that although reward is important, it is no substitute for good management and should be used to support it, not replace it. “All too often, I have seen people jump to reward as a solution in itself,” he says. “For example, if an organisation wants to increase people’s performance or engagement, it pays them more or gives them an extra benefit. I do not think it really works like that. I think it is much more about how people are managed, what the organisational values are, and how those values are brought to life. These are things that really make a difference.”
Fevyer says changing mindsets to prevent reward being used instead of good management is one of the greatest hurdles for reward professionals.
He also believes in the power of communicating reward. It is not enough just to have great offers; they have to be marketed to staff effectively. “We spend a lot of time marketing our products to our customers,” he says. “We need to mirror that internally and think of benefits as products we are offering to internal customers, and we should market and communicate them in the same way.”
Reward professionals may be tempted to make benefits communication complicated and sophisticated, but it ought be simple, says Fevyer. At Specsavers, he aims to ensure that, in line with its customer policy, messages to employees are simple, clear and consistent.
Another challenge for reward professionals is responding to new legislation, including the 2012 pension reforms. On the policy side of his role, Fevyer also has to consider the implications of the Bribery Act 2010 for commercial organisations. “It is about making sure we have sufficient, robust and workable policies that reflect those changes,” he says.
Fevyer may fly off to the Channel Islands each week, but his feet are firmly on the ground when it comes to reward: making sure Specsavers’ benefits are constantly refreshed and valued by staff.
I am good at developing new ideas and direction, and working to bring those to life. I am sure I have loads of areas I can improve on, but I have a great team around me who more than make up for my shortcomings.
What management books would you recommend?
Management books are great at challenging the way you think about things, and how some of the latest academic thinking can translate into the day-to-day business world. But I think it is dangerous to get too tied to specific ways of doing things. Organisations are made up of individuals, and each has different wants and needs. It is important to balance any current thinking with what is happening in a business.
What is your favourite benefit?
The thing that worries me most is my total reward statement. I am always drawn to looking first at how much I will be worth when I am dead. It’s not my favourite, but it’s the one I am most interested in.
What are your career aims?
Specsavers has a great culture and values. There is a lot here to keep me occupied and challenged, so I see my immediate future with Specsavers, and continuing to bring reward strategies to life.
- April 2009-present: director of reward and policy, Specsavers
- 2004-April 2009: head of pay and benefits, Lloyds TSB and, latterly, Lloyds Banking Group
- 1998-2004: senior manager, compensation and benefits, Lloyds TSB
- 1990-1998: Various roles across HR, from management development training through to HR strategy and planning, Lloyds Bank
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