Article: Best practises in aligning benefits in rewards space

Compensation & Benefits

Best practises in aligning benefits in rewards space

Customized reward strategies in aligning benefits by three eminent companies highlighting the business challenge, solution and impact.
Best practises in aligning benefits in rewards space
Northern Operating Services

Northern Operating Services

With a gender ratio of 59:41 (men: women) and a rising attrition rate of women in the workforce, Northern Operating Services Pvt. Ltd. (NOSPL),  a subsidiary of The Northern Trust International Banking Corporation had to uphold its commitment to foster and support its diverse workforce. The company needed to develop a set of solutions to address the causes of attrition in this target group.

Business Challenge 

The company witnessed a high attrition rate of women employees attributed to reasons like marriage, maternity, among other familial priorities. The challenge was to create a holistic bouquet of relevant benefits that would help control critical business metrics like attrition in the target group thereby reducing the negative impact of attrition on business deliverables. With each attrition at the entry-level costing at least USD 3,000 (inclusive of the cost of hiring, onboarding & training) and the cost significantly increasing on losing talent with experience and potential, there was a need to make concentrated efforts towards creating a number of work-life programs.

Key attrition statistics among women employees were:

  • High attrition among women returning from maternity leave – 43% of women returning from maternity leave quit within 6 months of resuming the work

  • Attrition in women staff base was 2% higher than the average organization attrition

  • Personal reasons featured as one of the highest (51%) reason for exits


Enabling diversity at workplace was not only a social imperative but also an organizational need that provided competitive advantage for the company. NOSPL adopted a series of business solutions to overcome the challenge by evaluating the usage, popularity, budget commitment and prevalent market practice for each solution. 

Childcare allowance: Taking aspects such as geo-economic, cultural and work hours into consideration, the company provided women employees the flexibility to choose between facilities like home-help or a day care. This was achieved by the company reimbursing the monthly expenses claimed by the women employees on submission of bills. The cost estimate was stipulated to be $32,000 for the first year and $200,000 for the next 10 years.

Advanced pre- and post-maternity healthcare: Ranging from IVF support, best in class maternity coverage and counseling along with well-equipped lactation rooms and mid-night meals, the program covered all such elements. One of the 3 wellness rooms was converted into lactation room with no significant cost impact. 

Medical cabs: The company provided secured medical cabs with mobile application and other security features for its employees over and above the normal transportation provided. 

Alternate work options: In order to provide flexibility to women employees, flexible working options were introduced such as part time, full time - part time arrangement, compressed work week, flexible hours, work from home (WFH) and job share. This involved a minor technology cost, amortized for 10 years. 


The bouquet of benefits helped the company in many ways and helped in strengthening the women workforce to a great extent. There was a significant drop in attrition rate in targeted group (women resuming work post maternity leave) from 43% to 23% during the period from Oct, 2015 to Sep, 2016. The annualized (as on Oct 31, 2016) women attrition was also 1% lower than the overall attrition. With a declining attrition rate, the company also witnessed 75% of the open positions being occupied by women candidates in company location in Pune. 90+ partners opted for the flexible work options being offered to employees, and around 47% of all eligible women with children availed the child care policy. There was 100% utilization of medical cabs by all expecting mother.  With so many lucrative benefits for the women employees, NOSPL was recently ranked amongst 100 Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI) Study 2016, instituted by Working Mother in partnership with AVTAR Group that aims to identify best practices and policies by companies for increasing women's workforce participation.


Reliance Industries

Reliance Industries Limited

Reliance Industries is one of India’s leading business conglomerates having its presence in diverse businesses, across different geographies and with a diverse workforce. To efficiently and effectively manage talent without compromising on effectiveness, there was a need to provide customized benefit plans to attract, retain and motivate employees. The challenge was to design benefit plans that catered to the needs of various cohorts of employees at different phases of their life. 

BusIness Challenge

With employees spread across many age categories, a renewed approach to provide relevant and customized benefits to attract, retain and motivate talent was necessitated. Consequently, various cohorts of employees at different phases of their life – single, newly married, parents, superannuating – were identified. And for specific employee cohorts, customized benefits needed to be designed that were relevant to their stage in life, economic and emotional needs.


The options chosen for the basket of benefits were determined on the basis of demographic segments that the workforce was classified into. The driving principle behind the design of the benefits was to tailor and customize benefits for employees on the basis of their stage in life, economic and emotional needs. A methodological approach towards customizing benefits was adopted that involved various innovative techniques. In parallel, data was analyzed to identify cohort groups that would be able to leverage benefits the most. Feedback obtained from Focus Group Discussions of a cross section of the workforce was also collated. Inputs from these exercises were used to identify, prioritize and focus on benefits that covered the maximum employee workforce.A cross-functional team comprising of colleagues from HR, IT, Finance, Legal was constituted to ensure the new proposals were compliant, cost effective and convenient to use. The final proposal in a “ready-to-implement” form was presented to management for its endorsement. 

Some of the benefits included:

Education policy: Under this, opportunities are given to all employees to enhance their knowledge and skills relevant to the business. Employees can pursue higher education through international courses, post graduate courses and professional courses up to and including PhD. In addition to the tuition fees being supported, their compensation and benefits are protected along with a secure job.

Healthcare policy: Under this, benefits are aimed at supporting employees as well as their family members. Periodic health check-up for family members is available to all of employees. Some tailored benefits are also available for employees who have retired from the company. 

Work-life balance: Extended maternity leave, paternity, marriage leave and adoption leave are available to all employees. Post the extended maternity benefit, women employees are allowed to come in to work for half-day for another six months.


Employees have appreciated and availed the maximum benefits from these policies.  The other peripheral benefits achieved by this intervention include motivation and retention of talent. 


Vodafone India

Vodafone India Limited

Vodafone’s mission is to be the ‘most loved telecom service provider in India’. And keeping in mind this policy, the Rewards team at Vodafone India, over the last 2 years has been on a journey of delivering consumerization through segmentation, empowering line managers through digitization and comprehensive communication to all employees.

BusIness Challenge 

For Vodafone, the biggest challenge was to provide effective benefit programs in light of changing employee demographics, employee preferences and cost pressures. The need to customize the benefit programs to meet the unique needs of various employee segments was also validated by usage trends on the benefits data, surveys and focus group discussions. While customization was a key need for the employees, maintaining benefit costs was also a key requirement.


Vodafone aligned their benefits to business needs around four broad pillars. 

V-Flex: As consumers become more diverse and with ever evolving needs, the company has an equally diverse set of employees who can understand them better. The need to be more flexible and agile in catering to needs of the diverse workforce was felt. As a progressive employer, Vodafone delivers more “power” in the hands of the employees through flexible work arrangements to support them throughout the key junctures in their life like education for self, parenthood, education for children and support for old-age parents. From BREAK-FLEX (Sabbaticals) to WEEK-FLEX (compressed work-week) to TIME-FLEX (Part-time), the company offers a varied set of options. 

V-Care: Health, Safety & Wellbeing is a core value for Vodafone, and is an integral part of every business decision. Vodafone has taken a step ahead to cover not just their hospital related expenses, but also their day-to-day medical expenses. Vodafone offers enriched benefits under the header of Domiciliary, Dental, Vision and Health check-up for employees and their dependents. The company also offers coverage for employee’s parents and provides them benefits to cover pre-existing diseases. Through analytics on last 3 years data, Vodafone has developed a customized medical insurance policy that not only covers the existing benefits extended to employees but also helps in reducing the administrative cost to zero through TPA. 

V-Delights: The company moved to a ‘Flexible Pay Structure’ branded as “PayFlex”. Under PayFlex, Vodafone offers a flexible company car policy under which employees can avail on a company car of their choice and customize the same to their needs/requirements. This offers them leading choices in terms of car value, tenure, type of lease, residual value, options to hire driver and fuel reimbursements — basis their lifestyle & life-stage needs, while at the same time, reducing cost of ownership of the car over the lease tenure. 

V-Digital: Vodafone developed a “pooled” plan for employees that mirrored its flagship market products i.e. the “Red Plans”. Under this, employee’s existing limits were allowed to be pooled with that of their family members. This not only allowed higher pooled limits but also helped employee’s family experience. The combined plan not only helped reduce overall costs for the employees, it also reduced hassles of multiple bills/payments etc.


Benefit 1: Providing flexible working arrangements to employees enhanced talent retention and further strengthened the credibility of the company as a caring employer who understands, appreciates and supports its employees in their times of need — be it for self-development or family matters, etc.

Benefit 2: Domiciliary medical insurance plan not only ensured cost savings in terms of insurance premiums, but also saved additional costs due to zero expense of administrating the policy. Also, due to better technical and system capability of the TPA, there was reduction in claim processing times (which led to increase in employee experience). 

Benefit 3: Flexible company car policy not only ensured cost savings but also provided value added services to employees like cheaper car insurance, discounts on car models, cheaper maintenance options and support in selling old car.

Benefit 4: Flexible mobile connection provided pooling benefits to employees and their family members. This ensured quality acquisition of high 

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Topics: Compensation & Benefits, Benefits & Rewards, #TotalRewardsTrends2017

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