Case Study

Public Sector HR Leader interview series – Cabinet Office, Stuart Young

uploaded on 17 January 2024

“We’ve been doing a lot of work to develop the Civil Service Employee Value Proposition, particularly in relation to financial wellbeing.”


As a Senior HR Consultant for Government People Group, Stuart collaborates with stakeholders to develop and implement modern HR policies and guidance for other departments. Currently he is working in the complex environment of Financial Wellbeing and Employee Value Proposition. Stuart explains how that role has played out against the challenges of the last few years and where he sees things moving next.

 

Financial wellbeing focus

“In the last five years we’ve been doing a lot of work within the Government People Group to develop the Civil Service Employee Value Proposition, particularly in relation to financial wellbeing,” says Stuart.

“In the past, colleagues have done good things to improve support for areas like mental wellbeing. There was still more we could do in the financial area though. We were aware some people were facing financial difficulties, even before the cost of living increased, so in 2020 we introduced a new financial wellbeing strategy and toolkit designed to help departments drive interventions that make a difference. We knew this would be vital if we want to keep people feeling engaged and supported so they can do their best work.”

“We now provide clear pathways for signposting to services like Money and Pensions Service and the Charity of Civil Servants that we’ve developed close partnerships with.”

“We also provide tools for communicating benefits, supporting field workers, improving information resources on intranets, creating champions, doing webinars - all the things that are vital if we want to make people aware of what we offer and how we’re supporting them. Up until recently those awareness levels have been quite low. Right now, it’s important that we push this more than ever.”

 

Big push on benefits

In direct response to the cost of living, Stuart also brokered a deal with Edenred to provide Enhanced Discounts – a scheme that gives employees even greater savings on shopping and other purchases on top of their existing discounts.

“Benefits and discounts are critical in the context of the current times; if people adopt and take full advantage they can save hundreds of pounds a year,” says Stuart.

“Providing Enhanced Discounts that offer more savings has been the biggest tactical winner from a financial wellbeing perspective. Departments now have the opportunity to invest in this scheme to help employees outside of pay budgets. It’s proved to be a massive trigger that has boosted engagement and provided a focus for benefits communications. Some of the bigger departments that have invested have seen orders and spend rise by 300-500%, with the majority of employees now taking benefits up. Before, it was usually a minority.” 

 

Retention and recruitment

Looking forward, Stuart says there will now need to be renewed focus on recruitment, traction, and retention.

“Some departments have had to recruit significant volumes of new people, partly due to the exit from the EU” says Stuart. “Some have had to manage increased workloads with static resources or fewer employees.”

“In response, we’ve done more work to develop our EVP to make clearer the wider range of benefits we offer to potential recruits, new starters and existing staff. Yes, the fantastic pensions we offer are important. But for some of the younger people we employ, or hope to employ, they’re not looking that far ahead. They’re more interested in what they can get now.”

“So, we’re placing more emphasis in our EVP on our generous annual leave, great inclusive practice, flexible working, enhanced benefits and discounts. We’re also working to develop the way we advertise through the Government Recruitment Service to make these benefits more prominent.”

“Longer term, we’re also thinking about how we might develop approaches to improve engagement with staff. For example, are there ways we could work more flexibly within our existing HR codes to enable smaller, specialist groups do something they couldn’t do before? It is certainly something we’d like to explore. Our employee offering is made up of many elements. Areas like benefits are an important part of that, but in the modern world of work, it is increasingly about looking at ways we can develop our EVP offer across the whole piece.”

 

Stuart Young, Government People Group (Cabinet Office)

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