A reward strategy more aligned with staff health has been the aim of the IT services firm, writes Peter Crush

At information technology services firm Atos, it already knows a great deal about its 9,300 staff. Their average age is 43, there is a 60:40 male to female split, and around 90% work online. But the one data point it was less happy about was the fact that after its 2013 employee survey, only 35% said their benefits offering was favourable.

At that point the business was using a portal called iChoose, but Cassandra Gallot, head of reward, UK and Ireland, wanted a platform that would work better for staff and create more satisfaction, but also start a process towards more data-driven decision making.

“We’re not there yet,” she says, “but what we do have is a plan in place that will take us to 2019, and which by then should give us the ability to use data to drive our benefits strategy.”

What started the process off was replacing iChoose with ATOS’s ‘Prosper’ employee engagement (rather than ‘benefits’) platform, powered by Reward Gateway, in 2014. Gallot says: “The original aim was to address pinch points – the fact staff wanted more benefits choices, but also that they wanted to access the portal from anywhere – on their mobile or tablets.”

She adds: “This alone saw us achieve 90% staff registrations within the first year – which has stayed at this rate since. The new benefit additions have mainly been voluntary – and so far more than £3m has been spent by staff, saving them £300,000 – but we’ve also added Reward Gateway’s SmartFit option allowing staff to buy discounted gym membership or home health equipment, an online GP service, and discounted technology equipment through payroll.”

Now that this has been set up though, it’s the next, data-driven phase that Gallot wants to pursue. “This year we’ll be introducing a benefits management tool which we intend to use to send segmented communications and finally be able to do enhanced return on investment,” she explains. “This will be through specific data analysis.” Gallot says she’s already started measuring year-on-year uptake of benefits, but at the moment, she can’t overlay this with any other HR systems. This will change though, as the next phase of the project starts.

“This will help us get under the skin of our reward strategy, and the goal is to anticipate reward options. The next biggest gain to be made will be using this to inform changing our benefits strategy according to how the organisation changes.”

Although this next phase is about to start, Gallot says she already has data that’s already proving the ROI of key benefits. She says: “The fitness benefits were added because we were seeing an increase in our sickness absence rates. Since implementing them, and changing nothing else, in 2017 compared to 2016, we’ve had a 13% reduction in absence.

“More than this, we’ve also seen an 8% improvement in our people saying our benefits are working for them – which we know has improved our engagement scores.”