` George Makris from Reckitt on how its organisational purpose is steering reward and benefits | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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01 Jul 2021
by Dawn Lewis

George Makris from Reckitt on how its organisational purpose is steering reward and benefits

George Makris, director executive reward and total reward strategy at Reckitt, spoke to REBA about how organisational purpose is helping to steer reward and employee benefits strategy.




Reckitt’s sense of purpose

Developing an organisational purpose is a priority for many businesses. REBA’s recent People risk: why the need for change is urgent report revealed that 41% of employers say increasing focus on purpose is a major business challenge for 2021.

A sense of purpose is not only critical for business strategy, but also for employees, customers and society.

As a multinational consumer goods company which produces health, hygiene and nutrition products under well-known household brands such as Nurofen and Dettol, Reckitt’s purpose clearly links to the kind of products it makes and the type of company it wants to be.

“Our purpose is very clear – we exist to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. And that ties back to our portfolio and the categories of our products, and the role we play in hygiene, health and in nutrition,” says Makris.

In addition to its purpose they have articulated a ‘fight’ to ensure that people across the world have access to the highest quality information and to products which promote good health and hygiene.

“The fight we have on our hands is making sure that access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment is a right and not a privilege,” he says.

To achieve this aim, Reckitt ensures information about health and hygiene is readily available to employees and wider society, and that its products are accessible. This, in turn, relates back to how it fulfils their organisational purpose.

How Reckitt’s sense of purpose influences employee benefits decisions

“As our company purpose is around pursuing a healthier and cleaner world, then through our employee benefits and our reward proposition, we aim to do the same for our own employees,” says Makris.

An example of this is the organisation’s approach to employee health. Makris explains that as Reckitt’s purpose is to promote good health, this also extends to its employees and the healthcare provisions provided to them as a benefit.

“We make sure that when we define the company’s offering that we work towards achieving that same organisational purpose [through our benefits] – whether that’s our health insurance or overall wellbeing programme.”

Reckitt also has a set of values, which it calls Compass. “The Compass guides us to get to where we want to be in living our purpose,” says Makris. “And at the heart of our Compass is doing the right thing, always”.

“So when it comes to our benefit proposition, we want to make sure that we’re being inclusive; that it is comprehensive; and it is right for our employees.” Makris highlights examples such as ensuring that all of Reckitt’s employees globally are covered by life insurance, and it recently launched its global parental leave policy. The latter provides for at least 26 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid maternity leave, and four weeks paid and four weeks unpaid paternity leave, for all employees globally.

Aligning future risks with organisational purpose

Often potential risks can be aligned with organisational purpose, particularly in the employee benefits space. Makris highlights inclusion as a key area that can be a potential risk for employers, but also aligns with many organisations’ values and purpose.

“Are all benefits inclusive and widely available? For example, is health cover available to same sex partners, which we take for granted in places like the UK but looking internationally might not always be the case, of course, in some countries, this isn't legally possible.”

“Will you still get your paternal or adoption leave if you’re a same sex couple? Can an unmarried couple have access to life insurance if they’re cohabiting?” asks Makris. 

He highlights that in reviewing policies, Reckitt has recognised that today’s families come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, “we have made sure, for example, that the same paternity policy principles apply to all LGBTQ+ employees, as well as adopting and surrogacy families,” he says.

These types of questions are important to not only mitigate risk, but to live up to an organisation’s sense of purpose.

Another example of aligning organisational purpose with benefits at Reckitt is through its focus on care. Makris explains that during the pandemic it made sure that they had an employee assistance programme in place for all countries that it operates in, something it didn’t have everywhere before. They also provided employees with free essential Reckitt products, for example antiseptics and disinfectants. 

Going forward, Makris believes that the focus for employers will be to ensure that they’re offering benefits that employees will actually value, such as health checks and preventative health measures.

“The direction of travel is to make sure that when we do talk about care and living in a healthier world, we actually deliver on that promise,” concludes Makris.

Makris attended REBA’s exclusive Transform workplace engagement for competitive advantage – why the need to change is urgent breakfast in association with Mercer Marsh Benefits. It brought together senior reward professionals from an array of sectors to discuss the huge workforce changes which are necessitating transformational thinking on employee engagement.

Read a full round-up from the breakfast event on Transforming engagement: why the need for change is urgent.

Accompanying the Transforming Engagement Series is the first of three reports that will provide the context and practical steps needed to meet the challenge of transforming organisational culture into one that engages employees and reduces people risks. Download the People risk: why the need for change is urgent report.

The author is Dawn Lewis, content editor at REBA.

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