Focusing on improving the employer brand can help organisations retain staff when there is no money for salary increases, according to HR chiefs.
A new Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) report, produced in conjunction with HR consultancy Mercer, concludes that while financial rewards are important, non-financial benefits can also be key in reinforcing the brand.
The report is based on a survey of 44 organisations, a panel discussion, and nine organisation case studies, including hotel groupMalmaison and Hotel du Vin, McDonald's and not-for-profit housing organisation Midland Heart.
Sean Wheeler, group director of people development at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, said the recession has seen the group focusing on non-financial rewards, such as shopping discounts, foot treatment, childcare vouchers and staff discount rates at its hotels.
"We have had no pay rises for two years so have been actively looking at the 'low-cost, no-cost' benefits," he told Personnel Today. "We are lucky that we have a good product, so we can use it as an incentive."
Malmaison and Hotel du Vin also introduced a profit share scheme in January that will see all staff "from Mary the housekeeper to Robert the chief executive" benefit if the company is successful, revealed Wheeler.
"It is a great way to engage everyone to make a difference," he said. "We have created a monthly tracker so people can see what they are in line to receive at the end of the year."
Sue MacDonald, head of organisational development at Midland Heart, said the group's employer brand is centred on being clear what it can offer to its 1,350 employees.
"We are not-for-profit so can't offer huge salaries, but we operate to the market rate - being as fair as possible," she told Personnel Today. "We haven't increased salary for two years, so we are trying to look around the broader benefits."
Creating an employer brand has been particularly important for Midland Heart because it was created by the merger of the Keynote Housing and Prime Focus groups, leading to an inevitable clash of cultures.
"Our brand is very much about our five values: customer first; ambition; imagination; empowerment; and inclusivity," said MacDonald. "The things that concern our staff are very much around trust and recognition and getting people to work together, rather than reward."