Reward and benefits has become a key competitive differentiator for pensions business The Pensions Trust, as head of resources Andrew Walsh explains.
“We operate and compete for customers and employees in the very commercial environment of the financial services sector. Our benefits strategy originated from looking at our place in the market in 2007. We realised our competitive advantage is our customer focus, not just efficiency and product innovation. Since then, our strategy has been focused on customer intimacy.
We knew we’d need an engaged workforce to build customer focus, and so all reward is geared around engagement. First we worked with our staff to define engagement and asked them what makes them engaged. The biggest driver was behaviour of managers. Reward, benefits and recognition came second.
So, we’ve come up with a rewards process that encourages people to be more engaged. We have market median basic pay for all. Then we have three main discretionary benefits based on engagement and performance. There’s an individual bonus based on engagement, additional annual leave and recognition vouchers to spend on anything from medicals to wellbeing sessions.
How do we assess engagement? We no longer have annual appraisals, instead managers have monthly 20 minute one-to-ones. Once a year these are summarised and we work out an average engagement score. Benefits are directly related to this score.
I never do anything that I don’t think will impact on the bottom line, and this has definitely had an effect. Our real measure of success is customer satisfaction, and visitors always comment on the vibrancy they see. Over the past five years, our output per person has gone up and sickness levels have gone down. Our reward strategy has definitely played a part in that.”