Covering all aspects of reward, see what advice the speakers gave and what topics they covered.

RL Wed General-7

Employee benefits play an important role in an individual’s life and often have a significant impact on a business’ overall performance. From salary sacrifice and pensions to uniquely designed reward schemes, HRDs at Reward Live 2016 heard from some wonderful speakers about what staff need and want.

Car salary sacrifice was a topic that Guy Roberts, director at sgfleet, discussed. With the recent increased popularity in such schemes, this session offered delegates the opportunity to learn more about car salary sacrifice. During his session, Roberts addressed the risks and liability that are currently a concern for employers and explained alternative solutions that are available. He began with: “A car is a financial commitment so they will be saving more money on that than anywhere else.”

Following on from that, he explained the difference corporate leasing and novated leasing – the latter being the scheme offered by sgfleet. He highlighted the benefits of car salary sacrifice and some of the predicted changes to come in to place.

Succeeding this was Carl Chapman, a speaker from our headline sponsors, Barnett Waddingham, who discussed how and why reward should be unique. His session commenced with “your employees are your greatest asset” as he quoted several people within the industry who have statements that are very similar. However, he quickly went on to say: “To maximise that asset, we need to invest in them and ensure they have good wellbeing.

What makes employees comfortable, healthy and happy and what does for one employee, may not be the same for another. Wellbeing seems to be to do with fruit, gym membership and cycle to work schemes – but it’s much more than that.”

Using research and statistics, Chapman highlighted his “six pillars of wellbeing” which included: job security, financial security, health, protection, support and work-life balance. He discussed the several areas and left HRDs with some wise words: 'Don’t assume you know what your employees want, ask them.”

After hearing about the different employee benefits and legislation challenges, Dr Philip McCrea, managing director at BHSF Occupational Health, discussed the criteria used to determine whether someone is medically fit to attend an investigatory meeting. Providing case studies and real life scenarios, he explained “the process of institutionalisation which begins 6 weeks after you stop work.”

Dr McCrea provided us with shocking figures and explained the severity of the situation. He added: “People who are out of work 3 months, only 50% of them go back to that job, when it’s 6 months, it’s 15% and by a year it’s less than 5%.” To tackle this, he suggested mechanisms that help expedite the process. 

Commencing after the lunch break was Greg Thorley, head of business development, from WEALTH at work. Discussing pensions can often be complex but Thorley successfully simplified the topic and make it more fun. He began with some research and figures to emphasise the current situation.

He said: “76% of employees do not feel they are saving enough and 94% of employees at organisations use the default investment option.” These figures demonstrate the lack of information provided to employees on pensions and Thorley suggests that in order to engage employees, “you have to get inside the head of the people we’re trying to engage with.”

He concluded: “Education, advice and implementation is absolutely crucial, in order to understand benefits and, more importantly, provide employees with what they deserve.”

Similarly, Ian Rummels, head of thinking and possibilities, PES, discussed why employee benefits are important. He highlighted the key areas to be “attract, engage, reward and retain.” Rummels added: “Benefits can help with an engagement strategy, which means happy people – which in turn equals happy businesses.”

Providing statistics on the impact of benefits on engagement, he concluded by saying: “Ensuring your employees are aware of your benefits offering is just as important as offering them in the first place. Failure to inform staff about benefit schemes is costing UK companies £2.7bn each year.”

In addition to this, one of the last speakers of the day was Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), discussing the issue of absence in the workplace. Health issues can cause employee absence and these can vary from physiological problems to mental health issues. However, long term health concerns can also become a financial concern for employers, employees and their families.

Moxham explained how “a lot of people overcome tremendous obstacles to be productive at work and that’s great. But others don’t and they struggle.

“140,000 people a year leave work and go straight on to state health benefits and this doesn’t make sense.” Explaining how group income protection works, she described the benefits that it offers.

“It enables employers to be paternalistic at a relatively low cost. For example, 1,878 people were helped back to work in 2015 with some sort of active early intervention support from an insurer using deferred period.”

That concludes our Day One coverage – tune in tomorrow for more speaker insights!