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

RL Wed General-7

Following a great first day, we had another amazing set of speakers. From award-winning strategies and financial education, to the gender pay gap and salary sacrifice – Reward Live 2016 covered it all!

Session 1 discussed the importance of financial education which can often be overlooked by employers. Less than half of workers face an adequately funded retirement. Additionally, one in four have no idea how much pre-retirement income they need to save. Paul Bloomfield, business development director at Aon Employee Benefits, discussed why employees need to understand the full worth of employee benefits.

He said: “The financial education journey to date has specific areas to look at: focus on retirement, pensions landscape, approach to finances and legislation and wellbeing. People approach it in different ways, baby boomers and their saving technique was what we knew, now though, it’s all about credit.

Encouraging employers to ensure their staff make the most of their money and are financially aware, he added: “Poor financial wellbeing can have an impact on performance and productivity. 45% believe that employers have a duty to their staff to help them plan for retirement. You really need to segment in terms of the different demographics but before you decide on your programme, you really need to understand your business using surveys, focus groups.”

Similarly, another topic that ties in with financial education is the arrival of Auto Enrolment. It has opened the door for exploring benefits and more specifically, the protection of long-term illness. This session was based around the Seven Families initiative which has demonstrated that group protection is for all and shown how financial and emotional support during difficult times can really transformed lives. Roy McLoughlin, Partner at employee benefits IFA – Master Adviser and Executive member of Income Protection Task Force, explained how the Seven Families initiative came about and who they are.

He said: “Every year 250,000 people are leaving employment due to ill health in the UK and 60% of these are a main household earner. But more shockingly, 86% of employees can return if they are given early support through vocational rehabilitation teams.

“Seven Families is a campaign to raise awareness of the impact this has on people’s lives. Income protection offers several benefits including rehabilitation and emotional support. Communication is key to make people aware individually and through their employer.”

McLoughlin demonstrated an emotional but engaging video which was an example of what Seven Families do. They explained how the initiative helped families in remaining financially stable, rehabilitating and getting back to work.

On the other hand, however, is the gender pay gap. In the 2016 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne revelled that the gender pay gap is lower than ever. The gap is set to be reporting in 2018 and Fiona Hathorn, managing director at Women on Boards UK, discussed the impact of this change.

She began by saying: “Are we getting close to equality? No we are not. I used to think if you were good enough, you’d get there. But I don’t anymore.”

After engaging the audience, she demonstrated some research and figures which looked at gender and equality in the workplace and board rooms. She added: “Diversity makes us smarter. The more diverse the companies, the higher the research and development and so more profitable. The more racially diverse a workforce is, the more culturally diverse the products are.”

Explaining the need for a mental change, she left the session on a thought provoking note and concluded with: “There’s hardly any women at all on executive committee because we all have deeply embedded biases and stereotypes. Our society is hardwired with bias. Women need to overcome sticky floors.”

Salary sacrifice is a benefit that has seen significant growth over recent years. Andrew Leech, director at Fleet Evolution, discussed how this method can make employees’ pay go further. Looking at employees perspective on it, he said: “Salary sacrifice is a scary term [to them]. Some think its only for the highly paid and is expensive.”

Similarly, employer perception is similar with them thinking “we’re too small, schemes are hard work, schemes are high risk.” Leech explained how there are benefits to the employer and listed them: “[it is] tailored to your requirements, provides protection against risk, fully managed, NI savings, increased level of applicants, improves retention and improves productivity.”

He concluded by saying: “It is the most ‘visible’ of all benefits.”

That rounds up our speakers for day two and Reward Live 2016 but don’t worry, save the date for Reward Live 2017 at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on 10-11 May 2017.