Cafcass restructured benefits team to aid engagement

Childcare service organisation Cafcass has restructured its benefits team to help engage its employees.


Until around two and a half years ago, 80% of the employer’s benefits resource was focused on employee relations, which dealt with case work, discipliniaries and sickness absence. But the structure was inefficient in resolving employee issues and resulted in the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) consistently grading the organisation as ‘inadequate’.

Consequently, Cafcass embarked on a robust period of challenging staff performance and sickness absence, which resulted in Ofsted grading the employer as ‘satisfactory’. However, the trade-off was that employee engagement declined.

Daryl Maitland , HR manager (people strategy) at Cafcass , says: “The changes we made came at a cost of poorer levels of engagement that we were happy to live with, but once we got ourselves to ‘satisfactory’ we recognised that we needed a softer approach to get a ‘good’ grade.”

Cafcass concluded that it needed to focus on organisational development (OD) to get to a ‘good’ rating and improve employee engagement and the wellbeing of the organisation. To this end, it equally split its benefits resources between OD and its established employee relations arm.

Maitland says: “Employee relations has been hived off almost separately and organisational development in the future will be about reward, wellbeing,  engagement, and learning and development, because they all sit hand-in-hand together.”

The new structure is scheduled to be integrated by April 2015.

He adds: “This might not be for every organisation, but we are still quite keen to increase employees’ understanding of total reward . It is not just about them being paid their pension and annual leave, but about everything that they are getting in exchange for coming in and putting in the blood, sweat and tears for Cafcass .”