Is reward the employer's secret weapon?

Personalised, self-service mobility and reward packages are very much in vogue. How does Unilever's new digital platform give employees total control and flexibility?

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Reward specialists have long sought out sustainability, aiming to achieve maximum return on payroll spend. Employee wellbeing and retention are also now pressing issues. Unilever’s new digital platform puts reward on the frontline of these interlinked agendas.Personalised, self-service mobility and reward packages are very much in vogue. Lump-sum packages and a proliferation of apps and software linking assignees and business travellers directly to service providers are now commonplace.Employers and external HR service providers have been quick to capitalise on globally mobile employees’ preferences for greater choice in rewards and benefits. Global fast-moving consumer goods company Unilever is among them.In the all-important context of talent, Unilever’s approach offers employees more choice around their benefits and rewards – and the tools to access and adapt them according to their evolving life-stage needs, including for the company’s globally mobile employees.Built on 10 years of practical experience, its newly commercialised uFlexReward total digital reward platform is also taking personalisation to the next level. Unilever is spinning out its enterprise innovation to the global community. The uFlexReward platform offers organisations complete oversight and accurate benchmarking alongside the all-important personalisation employees in the multi-generational workforce seek.

Unilever is leveraging insights for commercial success

Unilever’s global head of reward Peter Newhouse spoke to Relocate to explain how its collaborative and more sustainable rewards and benefits management platform is maximising return on corporate investment by targeting employee engagement and talent retention.It is clear that uFlexReward’s collaborative approach to rewards and benefits addresses the common challenge multi- site international organisations face: securing accurate, truly comparable international data. This oversight includes compliance, where accurate reporting across the organisation takes place in minutes rather than days or weeks – a critical feature in today’s legislative context and focus on inclusion.Spring Issue 2020 out nowThe digital platform is also ticking the box for reward professionals around the need for accurate, transparent global overviews, while ensuring market competitiveness for Unilever’s total reward and benefits packages.Yet it’s around collaboration where Unilever is innovating to truly leverage the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. The uFlexReward spin-out offers organisations the chance to collaborate and share quality global rewards and benefits benchmarking data. Widening the pool of ‘clean’ compliant data – currently based on Unilever’s 155,000 employees across 110 countries – by incorporating information from other partner organisations, means everyone can keep on top of talent market trends and offer a truly sustainable and strategic corporate reward function.
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Practitioner-centred insights

“We set out to do something from the reward practitioners’ perspective in a corporate environment,” explains Mr Newhouse. “There are lots of specialist vendors out there, but because they are external, they have their own perspective and align their products with that. This doesn’t always manage the reward aspect effectively from the point of view of practitioners.“Smaller companies also often don’t have the capacity to approach rewards and benefits in a strategic way.” He sees this platform as filling both these gaps.

uFlexReward provides employees with the total value of their rewards and benefits - at a glance

For employers like Unilever, this approach means the company can benefit from the shift to personalised rewards by sharing clear, transparent end-to-end data with other sites, as well as other organisations around the world, and vice versa. “uFlexReward offers a much clearer picture for international managers,” Mr Newhouse explains.“For globally mobile employees, it’s not always easy to see the total value of the package because of net and gross-up calculations, allowances, whether the salary is home- or host-based and so on.”The platform also means employees themselves can see at a glance the total value of their rewards and benefits – and where they can opt in to gain better returns.

Total control and flexibility with a digital rewards and benefits approach

Unilever’s in-house innovation is a vital tool for keeping tabs on take-up, the value, equity and competitiveness of its global total reward. In the all-important context of talent, Unilever’s approach offers employees more choice around their benefits and rewards – and the tools to access and change them according to their evolving life-stage needs, including for the company’s globally mobile employees.Unilever offers its globally mobile employees a budget for each assignment and a menu of services for them to allocate and spend against. This gives people total control and flexibility, backed by a high level of destination support from service providers like relocation agencies education allowances, housing and other relocation benefits organised by their employer.

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Feedback loops and engagement to give employees a voice

Again, aligning with consumer trends, uFlexReward’s benefit feedback feature gives individuals a voice around the rewards and benefits most useful to them, and on their total reward package.But does asking people their view on their total salary and rewards mean people will always ask for more? “Having the right mentality and culture is really important,” says Mr Newhouse. “Especially when we are trying to do more with less by doing things differently.“It’s a gradual journey and the challenges have been massive, but what we’ve found is that it’s the simplest things that give people the greatest joy, like our ability now to show people an accurate picture of their total reward package.“We’ve had some really positive feedback about what people feel about what they are paid. This is changing the role of reward at Unilever, both in terms of engagement and how we are supporting business transformation by using data insights in evidence-based coaching.”

Using technology to get reward fit for the future

Asked how Unilever’s rewards and benefits philosophy fits with current HR and international management trends – and if reward really is an employers’ secret weapon across today’s agendas – Mr Newhouse highlighted how the nature of work is changing.“We are in a world where there is more and more artificial intelligence and digitalisation,” he says. “There is a fluidity around organisational boundaries and how work gets done. This requires agile ways of working and flexibility of role definition, which works for both the employer and the employee.”Sharing accurate and easily comparable rewards and benefits data with partners ensures this agility and fluidity are sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace.Unilever’s approach also ties into the inclusion conversation. “Inclusion is not about defining groups of people,” he believes. “It’s about enabling individuals to make choices for themselves. Our approach is ultimately about transcending definitions and boundaries and supporting fluidity.“For reward professionals, we need to be more flexible in the way we tailor to each individual. Technology is the key to making that a proposition and getting reward fit for the future.”

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