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.
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