Kate Donovan, reporter, Employee Benefits There’s a reason why siestas make some business sense. A busy morning followed by a full stomach combined with a comfortable seat and warm environment can have a significant lulling effect during the post-lunch slot at an HR conference.
However, benefits is surely a subject that engages because it can help to put an end to any lingering outdated accusation that HR is an airy-fairy function, hence the straight backs and alert eyes that could be seen at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) conference in Harrogate this Tuesday afternoon.
Seeing what other organisations are doing around perks is also of interest. As well as appealing to everyone’s nosy side, employers’ previous experiences can also help others to build a business case for their own organisation.
In a session chaired by the CIPD’s adviser for reward Charles Cotton, Debbie Cairns from Buckinghamshire County Council disclosed how, after the council was named and shamed for its poor quality of social services in England back in 2001, reward was incorporated as a central tool in the overall business strategy to improve the organisation as a whole.
Internal employee surveys showed the council that benefits other than pay, such as car parking, healthcare and childcare vouchers, were integral in keeping employees on board. A re-launch of its benefits last year, meanwhile, led to a 141% increase in the take-up of childcare vouchers and a 50% increase in the take-up of the council’s private health scheme.
The money saved by the employer through the salary sacrifice childcare vouchers is put in a pot that is re-invested into other benefits, “It’s quids in for everybody,” she said.
This is a sentiment that will undoubtedly ring true with those charged with aligning their HR strategy with that of the business and showing that their benefits are more than a mere cost to the employer.
Feedback from Employee Benefits’ own events has also shown that case studies such as Cairn’s have are useful in helping benefits professionals shape their strategy.
If the numerous hands that raise at the end of the session to ask questions is anything to go by then benefits and other organisation’s willingness to share knowledge and experience is always going to be a seat-filler, page turner and help a lot of people in the same position make the business case for benefits.