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WORKSPAN
FUTURE LOOK |

The State of UK Rewards and What May Be in Store

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Automation is a common variable worldwide when it comes to discussing the changing landscape of work, and the United Kingdom is no different.

The UK is preparing for automation just as the United States and others are. But how are UK employers handling other aspects of emerging total rewards topics and trends?

When it comes to compensation, organizations are trying to get back to the basics, said Carole Hathaway, global head of rewards for Willis Towers Watson.

“I think companies are really focused around their pay-for-performance programs and trying to make sure that they are working effectively,” said Hathaway, who is based in London. “They’re really targeting the company’s money to where they’re really going to have the biggest impact in terms of key talent and the top performers in the organization.”

Like in the United States, pay fairness has become a hot topic in the UK. The introduction of the gender pay gap legislation in 2017 proliferated the issue. Hathaway said the legislation has created an interesting debate around how transparent organizations should be around pay. While the numbers haven’t changed drastically, it’s not for a lack of effort, Hathaway said. Rather, she said, it highlights the limitations of the numbers, which don’t capture the distinction between the equal pay and the gender pay gap.

“The gender pay gap methodology was a great way to shine the light on the fact that women were not well represented in senior levels at organizations. That’s really what companies are focusing on,” Hathaway said. “In time, we’ll see that addressed in the numbers, but I don’t think we can judge the seriousness of companies just by looking at the numbers year on year.”

Meanwhile, Brexit is a constant source of uncertainty for UK organizations. Since the referendum in 2016 that determined the UK’s exit from the European Union, very little else has happened. Hathaway said that organizations put out plenty of communication to employees in the immediate aftermath of the vote to ease anxiety, but the only noticeable impact on companies is how they recruit.

“Expats who are already here feel vulnerable. It causes uncertainty and in uncertain times, people are going to be more risk-adverse in terms of making any sort of big career changes,” Hathaway said. “Organizations have decided to move some of their operations or critical talent groups to elsewhere in Europe to make sure they’re mitigating any risks that Brexit will bring.” 

This then turns into an attraction issue. An emerging recruitment tool in the U.S. is student loan debt repayment programs, which are catered toward younger workers. While younger workers in the UK aren’t immune to student debt, it’s less of an issue, Hathaway said. So what benefits programs are UK employers deploying to attract younger talent?

“I’ve heard more around how to be more innovative in helping new people in the workplace save in order to buy a house,” Hathaway said. “So rather than directing money into pension plans, which are going to seem like they’re a long way off to somebody just entering the workforce, they’re thinking about at what point are they going to be able to get onto the housing market.”

Hathaway said these types of programs are tax-efficient savings plans that often have a matching contribution element.

PwC UK Partner, Anthony Bruce, on how UK employers, employees and society can prepare for the Future of Work. 

UK ROUNDUP

Reimagining AI’s Implementation

In this article for The Telegraph, Murat Bicak, senior vice president of strategy at the Project Management Institute, explains how AI should be thought of as a tool that augments human intelligence. Bicak writes that UK businesses should be thinking about how to retrain and reskill existing employees to in preparation of optimizing their operation with the implementation of AI and other technologies.

Closing the UK Gap

Organizations in the UK are making it a priority to close the gender pay gap. Citing research, Maggie Baska writes that almost seven in 10 UK employers view closing the gender pay gap as a “high or medium” priority going forward. Baska’s People Management piece provides insight into how these organizations with 250 or more employees are implementing future strategies to close the gap in reaction to the 2017 legislation that requires gender pay reporting.

Pass the Remote (Working Options)

Using an Airbnb survey, Sarah OBeirne of the Facilities Management Journal writes that employers in the UK need to provide more flexible and remote working options to attract the best talent in the future. The report claims that UK workers are becoming more confident in their abilities to do their job from anywhere.

Prioritizing Skills for Tomorrow

What is the future landscape of training and development for work? Kirstie Donnelly explores this concept in this FE News column. Donnelly writes that it’s time to prioritize the skills necessary for future work on top of honing existing skills. She notes that technological advancement is not only reducing the longevity of skills, but also redirecting where organizations need to be prioritizing development.

Emerging Jobs

Charlie Spargo of the Prolific North engages a range of recruitment professionals in the North of England to examine what the emerging jobs are in the region for 2019 and beyond. Spargo’s interviews reveal a variety of insights, including that AI and machine learning skills across every industry are at a premium and that companies are focusing on the synergy between marketing and sales teams.

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.


About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is a professional nonprofit association that sets the agenda and standard of excellence in the field of Total Rewards. Our membership, signature certifications, data, content, and conferences are designed to advance our members’ leadership, and to help them influence great outcomes for their own organizations.

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