Who is responsible for organisations’ benefits decisions has changed little in recent years. As reward, compensation and benefits have increasingly been recognised as an HR specialism, the profession has seen a rise in status. This is reflected in an increase in responsibility given to compensation and benefits or reward directors and managers for making benefits decisions.
Having said that, this year, this group has slipped slightly down the list of primary benefits decision-makers into fourth place having been overtaken by the board of directors or trustees, or equivalent. This may be due to the nature of benefits decisions that have dominated the past year. With new pensions legislation and high-earners’ tax reform on the agenda for many organisations, they may have looked to specialist expertise in these areas.
Technological developments continue to affect benefits communication. In 1998, the Employee Benefits Strategic Reward Research found that just 7% of respondents had an intranet site in place, and only a quarter of employers used email as a communication tool. Now, 70% of respondents place written details of their package on their intranet or internet site. This year, email communications have also reached their highest level so far, being used by 49% of respondents.
But although electronic communication remains popular, it will be interesting to see if its rise continues.
Anecdotally, we have seen a return to more traditional forms of communication as employers strive to make messages stand out from the online traffic many staff are exposed to. It will also be interesting to see if the use of technologies such as social media develops further.
Benefits can be an effective way to engage staff with business objectives. This can be done by offering the organisation’s own products or services in the benefits package, or having perks that support its desired culture, external identity or business ethos.
Read more articles from the Employee Benefits/Alexander Forbes Benefits Research 2011