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BLJC mails out revamped total rewards statements to workers

Back in 2007, Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls (BLJC), a Markham, Ont.-based provider of real estate management services, issued its first total rewards statements to employees. But in 2008 and 2009, there was a lapse and no statements went out.

“Part of that was the organization was going through some interesting changes and that wasn’t viewed as a priority,” says Ron Shory, national director of human resources at BLJC. “There was also the cost factor in terms of getting it done because we had an outside organization putting it together.”

So for 2010, the company decided to bring the whole initiative in-house and deliver a more engaged statement that was printed and mailed to the homes of 1,400 employees.

“We wanted those statements to go to the team members’ homes and for the team members that had significant others, use that as a talking point to share with their spouses… and develop a greater appreciation,” he says.

To do the statements internally, a team — made up of Shory; the human resources management system manager; manager of rewards and recognition; payroll manager; and the learning and development manager — was able to consolidate all the data through reporting tools. In the end, the documents looked very similar to those done by the large HR consulting firm.

“It is a pretty impressive document,” says Shory.

While the statements were done in colour on double-sided paper, BLJC ensured the paper was authorized by the Forestry Stewardship Council so the document would match the company’s sustainability approach.

“We didn’t want our team members coming back and saying, ‘Well, wait a minute, this is contrary to our philosophy as an organization.’ So we did our best to ensure the impact on the environment was minimized,” says Shory.

“We all deal with email overload and though sending a PDF is the most cost-effective, least environmentally impactful way of doing it, a lot of people may not be prone (to opening it).”

And, he adds, a lot of employees who work out of the office may have difficulty looking at the statement on a Blackberry.

Detailed approach

The statements include an introduction from BLJC president Gord Hicks and Shory, with contact information should employees have any questions. There is also a sidebar listing the various elements of total rewards. The second page breaks down the total rewards with a pie chart explaining the employee’s total rewards, including regular earnings, BLJC’s contribution to benefits and merit awards.

A financial chart then outlines the various elements in more detail — government benefits, tuition reimbursement and the retirement plan — with the total highlighted at the bottom.

The retirement savings plan (RSP) line also points out to employees who are not contributing to a matching RSP program they’re missing out on free money. While BLJC has fairly high enrolment, the company was keen to encourage more people to join the program through a hypothetical projection, says Shory.

“What we tried to do is capture all the things that had been captured previously but also use it as an opportunity to remind people about some of the programs they may be missing out on,” he says.

Positive returns

The proof is in the pudding, says Shory, as there was a huge influx of team members, within days of issuing the statements, who requested the paperwork to sign up for the RSP program.

“It really was an effective tool for communicating things like that,” he says. “That’s why we think using it for other things, values, et cetera, would be a good strategy as well.”

Mailed in February, the feedback was “very, very good,” says Shory, not only from team members but from spouses, who said it gave them an appreciation for what BLJC does for them as a family.

Despite bringing the statements in-house and altering the format and content, there were no errors because BLJC did plenty of testing, he says.

“We really went through extreme lengths to ensure the accuracy and the integrity of the data. I’m not aware of anybody who came back to say, ‘It’s wrong,’ or ‘You used somebody else’s data,’” he says.

“We have many new team members and those weren’t necessarily here in 2007 so we were working on the assumption this is first time they’re seeing something like this and it’s got to be dead-on.”

Future changes

For the next round of statements, BLJC is considering a few tweaks, one of which could include another two pages devoted to promoting the company’s recently adopted values — integrity, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, innovation and sustainability.

“I thought let’s get over the hump of actually producing this and if they go out without a hitch, then there’s lots of opportunities for us to make use of it,” says Shory.

However, there are concerns a document that becomes too big will not be well-read by employees.

“Before we go ahead and do it, and it’s not a done deal, there’s going to be some deeper introspection because we really don’t want to go through the trouble or effort of doing it and finding people are just not interested,” he says.

Going forward, BLJC is also looking toward developing standardized, sample reward statements for some of the more common positions within the organization, such as customer service reps, facility managers and technicians, to be included as part of the hiring package as a recruitment tool.

“It kind of gives out a snapshot of what one could expect, it really brings it home to people, what total compensation or total rewards look like at BLJC,” says Shory.

By the numbers

Work-life balance a staple of total rewards: Survey

More than one-half of companies consider work-life initiatives a staple of total rewards, according to a recent survey. Fifty-nine per cent of 741 multi-national companies said work-life balance (including flexible work schedules, extra vacation and sabbaticals) are included in total rewards along with compensation (base salary, incentives and guaranteed payments), according to a survey by WorldatWork and Mercer.

With the downturn, there’s been a greater focus on the “softer” rewards to engage employees, says Steve Gross, senior partner and total rewards leader at Mercer in Philadelphia.

“Balancing no- or low-cost total rewards components such as work-life initiatives with pay and benefits is critical for retaining top performers, attracting new employees and enhancing the company’s financial performance.”

When surveys ask employees why they stay, if pay issues are taken out of the equation, “they stay because they’re treated with respect,” he says.

As an example, one of Gross’ employees who telecommutes also requested flexible hours, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., to accommodate family needs. He approved.

“It gave her work-life balance,” he says. “That was more important to her than if I just raised her pay, because that wouldn’t have met all the pressures she’s facing.”

While many responding companies (43 per cent) experienced a decline in overall revenue in the past 12 months, the majority maintained investments in total reward programs but changed the allocations, found the survey The State of Total Rewards Integration.

Most trimmed merit budgets, some reduced the amount spent on health insurance while others enhanced or added wellness benefits.

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