In an exclusive article Sue Laverick, UK Employee Benefits Manager, Cadbury Schweppes, discusses the benefits of her organisation’s flex scheme.
Ã‚Â Cadbury Schweppes has a comprehensive benefits package. We are unique in providing both a core flexible benefits scheme and a voluntary benefits programme, as research suggests that most companies focus on developing just one.
A number of individual business units within Cadbury Schweppes have had a benefits programme in one form or another in the past but in December 2001 we harmonised the benefits on offer as part of a wider project to standardise terms and conditions of employment across our management and clerical population in the UK. Our flex scheme is available to all of our UK based employeesÃ‚Â – roughly 7,000.
In order to support the harmonisation project a centre of technical expertise was created called HR Services UK and this is responsible for the transactional side of HR. This is where the design and administration for our flexible benefits plan sits
The overriding factor for undertaking such a huge project was the need to develop increased consistency across the UK businesses but it was also about introducing a total rewards philosophy and providing updated market competitive reward to support a strong employment brand.
Cadbury Schweppes has a pretty diverse and in some areas remote workforce. So for us it is important that our benefits programmes have something to suit every individuals needs. We wanted to give people choice in the benefits they wanted to take.
When choices was first set up we had little direct feedback from employees on what they actually wanted, and based a lot of our decisions on our experience of what benefits employees had selected in the past through local arrangements within their business units.
As choices benefits has become embedded across CS UK and following a huge step change in communication on a more direct basis with our employees, their feedback has become an essential tool in deciding what new benefits to include in both of our benefits plans.
Having such a comprehensive benefits package is great but it is essential that people are aware of the programme and understand what it has to offer them. Communication for us is a huge challenge and all forms of communication have their place as we can’t rely on just online processes because the majority of our employees have no online access.
We have an intranet site, e-mail system and an employee self-service system which are all excellent systems for those employees with on-line access but we have to ensure that all of our benefits programmes are supported by a booklet/pack that is sent to home addresses.
Research has shown us that even the population who have online access prefer a paper back up to take home.
Every year we learn more about what our employees want and what works best at each individual site but the communication method that works best for us out of all of this is face-to-face communication. We work with our providers to ensure that we brief out benefits programmes across our manufacturing sites at least once a year at pre or post shift sessions.
At head office sites we have the ability to desk drop information really easily via the post room and security teams. We have communal areas such as restaurants, receptions and foyers where we can hold demonstrations and have built up great working relationships with key site champions who help us to distribute posters.
We have built a strong brand that is recognised across every site in the UK and run a supporting Choices helpline phone line and e-mail facility.
The key for success for our benefits programme is having dedicated in-house flex expertise and this combined with the face-to-face briefings works incredibly well at the time of renewal for our core flexible benefits scheme.
To find out more about Cadbury Schweppes please visit their website at: www.cadburyschweppes.com