HOW IT WORKS
Consultants working for clients in exotic locations often feel alienated from the organisation that employs them. Global management consultancy Celerant Consulting has employees based internationally from Dubai to Siberia but found that by re-designing its pension and benefits package it could better match employees needs and keep them in touch with the benefits they qualify for. Working with Thomsons Online Benefits, Celerant launched Benefit Trader in autumn 2008, offering a scheme that can be managed online anywhere in the world. Updates and personal statements are communicated both online and offline, and staff are introduced to the scheme through one-to-one meetings with pensions advisers.
The Benefit Trader scheme is open to 175 UK-based employees, the majority of whom work in the field in the Gulf, Siberia, South Africa and across Europe. It will be made available to hundreds more consultants and support staff who are based out of Celerant's European offices, during the coming year. Celerant has 650 employees in total, of whom roughly 400 are project-based around the globe. The improved package gives them good pension provision, private health insurance, two-yearly health MOTs and options such as long-term sickness cover, salary-sacrifice childcare vouchers and Cycle to Work schemes. Company pension contribution has been doubled to 6%, providing a clear incentive to stay in the job.
WHAT IT DELIVERS
Within four months of Benefit Trader's launch, Celerant saw attrition rates drop from 35% to 20%, because staff felt better provided for, and were more likely to stay in their jobs. The less-generous previous pension scheme only achieved 60% participation by staff, but this has now increased to 97%. Improved communication has been crucial, with the website widely used by field-based consultants who have been shown by Thomsons Online Benefits advisers how to log on to the system for updates and to make changes. Celerant asked Thomsons to re-broker many of the benefits, and £120,000 a year savings have resulted. This has been ploughed back into benefits, allowing the employer contribution to pensions to grow.
THE HR VIEW
Huw Davies, European HR director of Celerant, is confident consultants working in remote parts of the world now have more appreciation of the benefits Celerant provides. He also believes it is a contributor to boosted engagement and retention levels. "Working somewhere remote, on an oil rig or petrochemical plant, can be very demanding and living away from family for weeks at a time is obviously challenging," says Davies. "People can be tempted to move on after just a few years, but great benefits, working in conjunction with salary, can be a real incentive to stay. We realised that to fully value our benefits employees needed better visibility of their Total Rewards package, and the website really provides that." Doubling the pension contribution to 6% has been a winner he feels. "People were apathetic about joining the pension scheme before. Now almost everyone is signed up, and this has led to a vast improvement in our ability to retain these highly talented individuals."
THE EMPLOYEE'S VIEW
Sarah Moffat is a 28-year old Russian-speaking UK consultant, who has been employed by Celerant for three years, and is currently posted in the Ukraine working with an energy supply company. "Because I work two weeks there and a week back in the UK, it's incredibly useful to have web access at all times so I can check the status of my benefits even if I'm on the client site," she says. "Being abroad often means you don't pick up on what's going on within the company, but having your personal page on a website as well as a phone line to call if you've got specific questions overcomes that." Moffat says the introductory face-to-face interview with a Thomsons Online Benefits representative was particularly useful: "They spelled out how the pension works and what sort of contribution I need to be making for my age." She says health insurance and her two-yearly health check-up bring peace of mind. "All these benefits amount to a lot, and are front of mind when I'm thinking about my future," she adds.