As the public sector strives to achieve "more with less," Jabbar Sardar looks at how rewards packages can be revamped to attract and retain the right blend of talent
Any thawing of the recent pay freeze in the public sector is likely to be slow, but that doesn't mean the way it manages reward needs to follow suit.
There is no shortage of stimuli to review our approach to reward management in the public sector, whether as a response to the rising cost of providing such as pensions or to drive efficiency by linking rewards with performance. The desired effect must deliver an attractive total reward offer that is valued by current and prospective employees.
It is not just about economics. A reward strategy can contribute to an organisation's culture and values, making it an employer of choice. So what elements of reward should HR professionals in the public sector focus on?
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's Reward Management 2012 survey reported that 77% of public-sector respondents had a base pay structure consisting of pay spines. Across other sectors, the predominant structure reported by respondents for base pay was individual rates/ranges or spot salaries.
Traditional public-sector rewards and benefits are generally offered on a "one size fits all" basis. As the 2012 Hay Group report Setting the scene for public sector reward - why and how sets out, such an approach has its merits: it is a simple and efficient means to demonstrate a non-discriminatory approach. However, the "one size" on offer can be neither sufficiently appealing nor adequate to meet the diverse needs that current and future employees may have.
The challenge is to create total reward packages that are valued by staff at both a collective and an individual level. They should contribute to employee engagement while remaining cost-effective. They should be part of an overall workforce strategy designed to drive improvement in performance and service delivery.