Sponsor’s comment: Total reward, including benefits, is key to recruting talented staff

This article is brought to you by Towers Perrin

Talented workers will look for an employer with a comprehensive package, says Jim Crawley, Principal, Executive Compensation and Rewards at Towers Perrin

Today’s business climate is more complex, more volatile and more interconnected than ever before. Increasingly, organisations face a daunting, and sometimes seemingly contradictory, set of goals. These typically include differentiating customer experiences while reducing costs, generating growth while managing the bottom line, driving efficiency through technology without sacrificing the personal connection to stakeholders, and standardisation and customisation.

One common element provides the foundation for organisations’ ability to advance through this environment: people. People and their skills, knowledge and experience are, more than ever, a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

So a key question for employers is how to attract the best people to their organisation.

The latest Towers Perrin research shows benefits continue to be critical in attracting quality people. The Towers Perrin 2007-2008 Global Workforce Study, the largest of its kind, identifies the key drivers of attraction, retention and engagement from employees’ perspectives at mid-size to large organisations. The study surveyed 90,000 full-time employees in 18 countries worldwide, 5,000 of who are located in the UK.

Overall, the results show that when attracting quality people, benefits are important – and are becoming more critical – in differentiating an organisation as an employer of choice. But what do we know in detail about the factors that attract people to organisations and the role benefits play? The Global Workforce Study found there is a reasonably high degree of consistency globally in what people rate as the most important factors influencing their decision to join an organisation.

Drawing from a long list of potential attraction factors, it identified the top 10 critical attraction drivers in the UK. Topping this list for employees was competitive base pay, with a convenient work location in second place. These were followed, in order of importance, by holiday or paid time off, career advancement opportunities, learning and development opportunities, the reputation of an organisation as a good employer, challenging work, a reasonable workload, a flexible schedule, and competitive retirement benefits.

The benefits that feature in this list include holiday, time off, flexible working arrangements and retirement provisions.

So do these findings mean that UK companies simply need to appeal to a transactional attitude to work in order to attract staff? Potential employers certainly need to keep the basics of pay, location and holiday entitlement at the front of their minds when designing recruitment campaigns or developing an employer brand.

But an employer associating its brand too closely with purely financial reward does risk missing out on a vast pool of talent. For instance, a sizeable proportion of employees – 41% – do not rank competitive base pay among their top five drivers of attraction to an organisation.

The critical element here is not to forget the other factors that attract people to an organisation. Included here are providing opportunities for career development, learning new skills, having financial stability, which is particularly important in this time of volatile markets, and, increasingly so, possessing a good reputation for corporate social responsibility.

Employers should not forget that benefits, in the wider sense, can be used to attract a greater variety of talent into an organisation. This results in access to a wider pool of talent, and includes mothers returning to work and non-retiring individuals.

With this in mind, it is definitely worth investing in helping employees understand the value of the benefits being offered to them.

Those extra elements are important in making an organisation be seen as a good place to work. But as has been, and will continue to be true, offering attractive and competitive total rewards, of which benefits are a critical component, is still vital if you want to attract the best people.

The views and opinions in this article are those of our sponsor Towers Perrin, and do not necessarily reflect those of www.employeebenefits.co.uk