Nick McClelland provides a masterclass on how to build a reputation for reward innovation


Let’s start off this masterclass addressing the title and what exactly does ‘a reputation for innovation in your sector’ mean? For clarity, I will not be talking about you launching series after series of the latest tech and benefit ideas to your people. Just launching the latest trends (however cool they may be) is not innovative. In the context of this masterclass, innovation is about doing the right things that will drive your current organisation to a better place relative to where it is today. Below we will address the practical way of bringing innovation to your workplace, securing the first part to  your personal reputation as an innovator in your sector. 

Man rolling a ball standing out from others

A good place to start is to focus on creating the best possible approach for your people relative to your business purpose, objectives and needs. Achieve that, create the recipe and repeat is the sure fire way to achieve the title of this blog relative to your role today. 

I recently hosted a roundtable where the focus on the session was securing board sign off for a wellbeing project. As someone who is used to building the business case for investment, it struck me how underprepared some attendees where for the conversation with C-level executives. Either a lack of understanding or more worryingly, a lack of existence of organisational purpose, vision or mission means that choosing the right ‘innovative’ path for your plan can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. When there is so much ‘innovation’ in the market how do you align the right offering and approach to the needs of your people whilst meeting your business objectives? I would advocate the approach of starting with both and meeting in the middle:

Let’s have a look at how that could work in practice starting with a few well-trodden corporate strategy objectives:

Corporate strategy for example company 

We will:

  1. streamline our core business processes to improve operational efficiency
  2. create a performance focused culture for our people
  3. become known as the leading brand in our industry through our excellence in customer service

Rough and brief but you get the gist! Now for your people’s needs…hopefully you have some survey type data mixed in with anecdotal feedback:

Your people’s top needs:

  1. I want to develop my career and learn new skills
  2. I would like to be able to work more flexibly for a better balance
  3. I need to focus on my finances and start to plan for the future

Moving to an innovative solution

Given the above needs, you decide your benefit and reward strategy should include:

  1. The implantation of a new benefits platform for the first time 
  2. A redesign of your benefit scheme to support the health and wellbeing of your employees
  3. Introduce a recognition scheme in partnership with the L&D team

The challenge in presenting your case for change and innovation is aligning these strategy items to the overarching objectives of your business. How can you draw a line between these items in your persona/team goals to the company strategy above? I am not here to provide the specifics for your individual company – I would need to sit down with you and understand a great deal more but for illustrative purposes, I have selected the above examples to show good examples of alignment I have witnessed first-hand. For example:

The benefit platform implementations – as well as focusing on the employee experience, communication and engagement of benefits, make sure you align the business case to the operational efficiency item above. Any modern platform worth its salt should be able to demonstrate hard efficiency savings for you, which can be realised by digitising benefit admin processes. This should form a stringent part of your evaluation of platforms anyhow.

A re-design of your scheme to be more wellbeing focused – as well as the employee need for working flexibly and financial support, align this approach to both performance and customer excellence by focusing the business case on the need to support your people's wellbeing so they can be their best self at work for the benefit of the customer and organisation. There is clear evidence that links wellness and productivity in addition to the fact that it’s the right thing to do culturally.

Recognition scheme – people have a desire to enhance their careers and your business is clearly focused on performance and client satisfaction. What a great chance to work collaboratively with the Learning & Development team and build the business case for a workplace recognition approach that ties to business strategy.

Innovation is only difficult relative to the circumstances you are introducing it into. What is the change you want to see, why do you need to make it and why will the board care? Answer these questions and your reputation for innovation in your space will soar.

The author is Nick McClelland, commercial leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits.

This article is provided by JLT Employee Benefits. 


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