When we conduct reviews of reward with our clients, we need to understand the processes and systems that are in place and to measure their effectiveness. However, by far the most valuable source of information we gather is from stakeholders. We interview senior managers and run questionnaires, but the running of focus groups with staff is always most telling.
Gathering documentary information about processes provides evidence of what was expected to be done when systems were designed. Having a reward strategy in black and white is also a positive – it makes a statement about what is intended and helps set the tone in the organisation.
You can’t beat getting in front of people and asking them about reward. As independent consultants, we find that people are happy to tell us about what works well – but they also open up about what doesn’t. And a pattern usually emerges from around the business.
A well-structured series of focus groups are surprisingly effective. Running them with staff from different parts of the organisation, perhaps segmented so that managers are not in the same sessions as other team members levels, can help gather data that you can’t get from a questionnaire. Of course, subject areas need to be carefully chosen and expectations of outcomes need to be managed. We make sure we are well briefed to avoid any issues that might be sensitive within the organisation.
People like to feel valued and having the opportunity to speak to reward professionals about their opinions - it gives them an opportunity that they have often never had outside of one to ones with their line manager. The freedom to talk in a group, and be listened to, is empowering.
Much of the opinion is predictable based our initial research but we usually find out the unexpected, perhaps about the pay structure or shortcomings in the performance management system. And it is not all bad news: employees tend to be constructive and balanced, so we find out what works well too!
Here is what one recent client had to say:
'As well as examining our reward practices, Karl and Alison spent time getting to know the business, meeting with senior managers and running focus groups with our staff.
They collated all of the information they gathered and provided a balanced report that summarised what works well, highlighting risk areas and recommending how we could further strengthen what we do. They presented the findings to our Remuneration Committee and we are now implementing their advice.
We have enjoyed working with Karl and Alison and felt that they were very collaborative in their approach and really listened to what we were hoping to achieve with this project.
We were kept up to date with progress throughout the project and everything was delivered within the agreed timescales. We would have no hesitation in recommending the services of EBRS.'
Contact us to discuss how our focus groups could help your organisation.
News and views from the EBRS team
Updates and opinions on the world of employee pay and reward from the team at EBRS. We've archived articles from before 2016.