WSB looks at what Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council did to win the Savings & Benefits Team of the Year accolade at the WSB Awards 2016.
Against a background of continued public sector economic pressure - and the challenge of reduced resources and increasing service demand - Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council recognised the need to successfully engage its 4,500-strong workforce and felt having an effective benefits package was a vital part of doing this.
During the year, the council introduced a comprehensive, tailored benefits package called 'Sandwell Employee Benefits' that was both attractive to the employee and cost effective for the council - but one that also supported local prosperity in Sandwell.
The employee benefits offering included a discount platform with local business offers; travel and leisure discounts; childcare vouchers; cycle to work and green car schemes; an annual leave purchase scheme; a home computer and mobile phone offering; and an employee assistance programme.
Once the team's biggest challenges was communicating the benefits offering to employees who worked in multiple locations - a challenge that was tackled through the use of a comprehensive pre and post launch marketing campaign, which included a dedicated intranet site, payslip flyers, roadshow events and a screen saver on all employee computers.
A remarkable feature of the council team's delivery of Sandwell Employee Benefits was that the launch, operation, communication and evolution of the programme was done without a dedicated reward team, with the council using a 'virtual' internal team to work with an external provider, P&MM, to deliver the scheme.
At the end of its first full year of operation, the scheme was widely used by employees, with some 41% of the council's employees using the scheme. Employee satisfaction with the total reward package rose from 30% to 67%, against a local government benchmark of 54%, employees have already saved over £300,000 through using the benefits.
In addition, the scheme has generated employer savings, which the council team has re-invested into vital HR initiatives supporting personnel redeployment and development - initiatives that include the council's Talent Connect Programme, which aims to offer a development pathway for employees, and its Jobs Promise initiative which offers a two year guarantee of a job for any employee who wants one, a programme that has already resulting in a ten-fold increase of employees being redeployed.
Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has lost the appeal against his section 72 conviction and sentence for failing to hand over information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
This week's top stories include Marsh and McLennan Companies agreeing to buy JLT, and the home secretary calling for AE to be scrapped in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
Lesley Titcomb says the watchdog wants closer interactions with pension funds to spot problems sooner and act before having to use its more stringent powers
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is consulting on proposals to charge a "risk reflective" levy for commercial defined benefit (DB) consolidation vehicles.