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18 Oct 2022
by Debi O'Donovan

How reward and benefits are being used to empower employees to live more sustainably

Debi O’Donovan, director of REBA, highlights some of the key sustainability trends and challenges she is hearing from reward and benefits directors

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Long-term business sustainability issues, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors continue to be strategic priorities for many organisations. 
CSR and ESG themes are also high priority for reward and benefits directors, from climate aware benefits to fairness across the workforce. 

That’s why using reward and benefits to empower employees to live more sustainable lives is one of the key themes at REBA’s Future Forum on 24th November

Aligning benefits and reward to corporate CSR and ESG goals 

Increasing numbers of organisations have put out strong corporate messages about their purpose linked to sustainability and ESG. But how these play out in messages to employees is less clear.

This is a sensitive spot for many reward and benefits professionals, as corporate messages can be hard to translate into people practices, never mind made relevant to the day-to-day lives of employees through their benefits and pay.

We’ll be exploring this trend in more depth at REBA’s Future Forum on 24 November. Come along to hear Phil Williams, head of employee programmes, BI Worldwide, talk about how global businesses are evolving their recognition strategy in the face of megatrends like using recognition to align employee behaviours with CSR objectives and build sustainability into your reward infrastructure. 

Employees want more ‘green’

There is demand from employees to have more ‘green’ benefits, and they expect employers to lead the way. While employees are not yet all sacrificing their own lifestyles or discretionary spend to support sustainability, they want employers to offer benefits to help them do so. 

Making the ESG links to and between existing employee benefits and reward practices is a huge, complex task given the myriad of benefits on offer in many organisations. 

Many employers are still at the start of this journey, simply trying to audit what benefits or pay strategies need adapting or adding to – and those that already fit with existing corporate messaging.

For those further down the line, putting all elements of reward and benefits into a sustainability narrative that doesn’t overwhelm employees is a challenge. All this good work in reward can fall on deaf ears, especially in difficult times when some employees may wonder why the organisation is focusing on external sustainability issues during a cost-of-living crisis.

Over 20 experienced reward and benefits practitioners will be curating round tables at REBA’s Future Forum on a variety of themes, including employers’ focus on green benefits. As one of our table hosts, explains: “Sustainability is key for our business and we need to lead the way in reducing our employees’ carbon footprint. [You need to] have a sustainability team made up across different functions with people who have a passion for this topic.” 

Our round table sessions give Future Forum attendees the opportunity to learn from other practitioners’ experiences and share their own knowledge of sustainability and other key reward themes. 

Back to basics strategy

For every organisation the solution and pressures will be different, but a common theme is that the workforce should be seen as the beneficiaries of corporate sustainability and ESG objectives. That is, be paid a fair living wage with employers truly caring for their welfare.

This means focusing on back-to-basics reward and benefits strategy before looking at the extras. New green, DEI and hybrid working benefits have their place – but only on top of a strong reward foundation.

The sustainability messages might appear innovative, but as with so much in life, keeping it simple is the hardest thing to do.

At the Future Forum, you can hear from speakers exploring how the basics of reward and benefits act to underpin sustainability. Justine Woolf, director of consulting, Innecto Reward Consulting will be talking on ‘A new way to fair pay: Driving equitable change’. And Jonathan Best, enterprise product lead at uFlexReward will explore ways to transform compensation for an increasingly agile world of work. 

Secure your place at REBA Future Forum

Secure your place at REBA Future Forum

Join reward and benefits leaders on 24 Nov to examine current challenges incl inflation & the cost of living crisis + strategic imperatives like pay strategy, DEI, sustainability & redesigning benefits for the modern workforce.

Register now