To get this message out, the Agency implemented a communications program to explain the types of benefits offered and what they cost. Provided through internal mail, the glossy brochure contains benefits updates, answers to frequently asked questions and offers health and safety information.
But the highlight is the personalized section listing total compensation for the year, which gives employees a breakdown of their salary, including paid time off work, and their personal benefits costs for the year.
“People often forget that benefits, including sick and vacation days, have a cost,” Kenney says. “So we set out to quantify everything about pay for time worked and pay for time not worked such as sick leave and vacation. Not many people think about their total compensation in those terms or think about the actual cost of benefits.”
An employee survey taken after delivery of the first compensation statement found a very high positive rating and more than a third said they had learned something new. The negative response was surprisingly low, Kenney adds. “We were encouraged by the survey. Since cost containment is such a big issue with us, we walk a very fine line when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. But the survey showed that we didn’t waste money.”
It is still too early to tell what impact the personal compensation statement is having on benefits costs, but there are indications that people may be thinking twice before using benefits or calling in sick. “Our average sick leave went down by two days in the past two years,” says Kenney, although she admits that it is hard to directly link the decrease to the communications program. “We use the statement to highlight good practices and I think it is having an effect.”
Sonya Felix is a freelance writer living in St. Catharine’s, Ont. email@example.com