Developing your implementation plan: FAQs

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In this section we look at putting reward strategy into practice. There are a number of decisions to make prior to introducing new reward elements.

We will continually review and add to the FAQs in this section. If you would like to see a question answered here that is currently missing, please contact reward@nhsemployers.org.

Who should be on the implementation project team?

The project team that was set up in phase one could also be used to deliver the implementation plan. However this is an opportunity to reflect on whether the project team have the right skills mix to deliver the next stage and if they represent all areas of the organisation including staff from a range of roles, line manager and trade unions. You may in particular wish to include a member of the communications team that will be involved in developing the communications plan.

Can everyone access every benefit?

It is important to consider the eligibility criteria for each element of reward. An effective reward package should be available to all staff but it may be appropriate to set a qualifying period of employment for tangible rewards such as lease car schemes or home computer initiatives. Consideration should also be given to whether benefits are ‘anytime choices’ or will only be available during limited windows of availability. 

What are the pro's and con's of outsourcing flexible benefits?

There are advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing flexible benefits which should be considered before deciding on the right approach for your organisation.

We have worked with Jacqui Siggers of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust to create shared learning about the trust's decision to use a third party provider to host their flexible benefits package. Opting to use a third party benefits provider is an informative case study looking at the challenges the trust faced including funding, communications and evaluating success.

The advantages are:

  • Expertise – external providers have specialist expertise and software that has already been developed and tested. Tasks can be completed faster and potentially with a better quality output. 
  • Risk-sharing – some of the responsibility for key deliverables would shift to the external provider for example issues with technology such as a self-service benefits hub would be the responsibility of the provider. They will also have the expertise to plan for mitigating such risks. 
  • Time – outsourcing gives the organisation more time to focus on core business activities.

The disadvantages are:

  • Confidentiality – working with an external provider will involve the sharing of some confidential data. This will be mitigated in the main by the contractual agreement but should be taken into consideration.
  • Relationship management – with any partnership working there can be problem areas such as stretched delivery time frames, sub-standard quality output and unclear responsibilities. At times it is easier to control these factors inside the organisation rather than with an outsourced partner.
  • Costs – buying expertise can be expensive so it is important to understand the full cost implications at the outset; both for the development and implementation stage and the day to day administration.
  • Lack of customer focus – it is likely that an external provider will be working with a number of organisations at any given time. They may lack complete focus on the needs of your organisation.

Do I need a training plan?

Training requirements need to be assessed as part of the implementation and communications plans. If you are working with an external provider to deliver rewards such as flexible benefits, training could be delivered as part of the contractual agreement whether it be e-learning or face to face. In addition to staff needing training in order to access their benefits there will be key staff such as HR and finance who will need understand any new processes.

Are any of our related policies and procedures going to be affected?

Policies and procedures should be reviewed to check if any are in the scope of the reward strategy and whether there are any amendments necessary. For example the appraisal policy and procedure will need to be reviewed to reflect a move to performance related pay or the annual leave policy could need updating if you introduce an additional leave purchase scheme.

Should we launch the new reward programme in one go or bit by bit?

This is likely to be dependent on the capacity of those involved in the implementation. If you are introducing a number of new benefits with new administrative processes a phased approach may be easier to those supporting the process. However processes and teething problems could be addressed by piloting the new programme first which would then enable a high impact launch of total reward.

When should we launch?

The decision of when to launch can be fundamental to the success of the implementation. When planning a date, be aware of other organisation activities and messages due at that time that could have a positive or negative impact on the launch. For example launching in the same week as the organisation announces a large restructure will likely not have the desired impact and the message will be lost.

There will also be key activities and messages that will strengthen the total reward message such as annual Total Reward Statements. Showcasing your local reward offerings through Total Reward Statements will give staff a complete picture of their financial reward package. You can find out more on our Total Reward Statements web page.

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