Profile: Experienced Benefits and Reward Leader shares her advice for linking with Health & Wellbeing

Jackie Buttery Photo (1)

Jackie Buttery, Head of Benefits and Reward at Travers Smith, and a recent Watercooler speaker for us, has oodles of experience in the industry behind her, spanning over 20 years, gained mostly in the law industry at the likes of Eversheds and Herbert Smith Freehills.

She’s passionate about the “enormous array of possibilities” in her specialism; we talk to her specifically about these opportunities in relation to employee health and wellbeing…

What did you think was the most interesting insight to come out of the Watercooler panel discussion you were part of?

Employees have a diverse and evolving set of health and wellbeing needs. Whilst it makes sense to put in place a multi-faceted approach to delivering solutions that can be accessed when needed, Reward practitioners can find it challenging making sure what they have developed is understood and feels coherent and there is depth and breadth in the proposition, given the different generations in a workforce. 

Do you think lack of breadth in benefits and wellbeing packages is an issue?

What you are able to offer your employees will depend on the organisation you work for and how much budget it’s got. That said, not all benefits cost a lot to implement. I feel very lucky that I am able to offer breadth in our wellbeing proposition and when you do, as discussed during our panel session, it’s then a question of making sure there is good quality (and consistent) delivery of all that is available.

What is the biggest obstacle to providing breadth in a wellbeing benefits offering?

If you’re trying to deliver breadth in your offering without technology, it can be challenging – both in respect of implementation and communication. There’s no doubt that technology provides you with an infrastructure to underpin and support employee engagement.

Technology can be a gamechanger in so many ways, from improving the employee experience when signing up to services to the back-end reporting that then becomes possible.

What would you say are the biggest issues in terms of Rewards and Wellbeing?

The biggest challenge will always revolve around how to engage the maximum number of people in everything you have on offer and how to reach people in the way they want to be reached. 

Some of the product and service offerings are very much online, whilst some of the services are most suited to being delivered in person (physiotherapy and massage for example).  

With a number of mental health benefits in particular you have scope to offer these in person or online so it can be challenge working out the preferred format for your organisation. Where possible, you want to offer both models, so for those employees who want to access benefits face to face, for instance in the case of counselling, they can do so, whilst for others, they can access supportive content online.

Whatever you are implementing, when you go out to market looking for providers, you really have to do your homework on which are able to deliver geographically and consistently in different parts of the country, if a service is required face to face. This can be an issue for some providers, particularly if they haven’t been in business for very long and have a focus on delivery in particular areas such as London. Some providers are finding consistent delivery of ad-hoc emergency family care quite challenging for example, if your people are located outside of London and other major towns and cities.

What do you mean emergency family care?

Emergency care for pre-school age children or for elderly relatives, for instance, if an employee’s usual care provision lets them down. These services step in at those crucial moments.

I think behind the scenes it is tough for providers to deliver consistently in different geographical areas, particularly if employees live in rural areas. It seems from the press that many care workers have left the sector in recent years, so getting full geographical delivery from a benefits provider can be difficult. Doing your homework on the established companies with larger care-provider databases should be helpful when thinking about guaranteeing service.

Your LinkedIn says one of your areas of expertise is wellbeing programme design. What are your thoughts on what constitutes good design?

I’m a firm believer in making sure that patient journeys and clinical pathways are as smooth as you can make them if an employee is unwell. That has to be the foundation of any good health and wellbeing programme.

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I’m also a believer that health and wellbeing programmes should be multifaceted. So, at Travers Smith, we try to strike a balance in our efforts and the initiatives we run across our pillars of wellbeing: mental health, physical health, financial and social wellbeing. We try to make sure that we deliver quality support, healthy conversations inside the organisation, support our employee network groups (where relevant) as well as delivering proper resources and third party products.

What about the challenge of getting people to engage with your benefits?

Whatever programme you come up with, there needs to be a drip feed of comms throughout the year as well as spotlight initiatives tied into key dates like Mental Health Awareness Week. 

Beyond key milestones in the diary each year, all of the comms in between really matter, so employees understand the signposting to the services they need. 

Any tips on communicating well?

Technology can really help here.

When you use a good technology platform, you’ve got the scope to create a brand with a look and feel for these comms, which has been very useful to us in the last few years. 

Covid meant we started communicating more than ever before and we are still trying to keep that going and maintain the momentum behind everything we started.

What would be your tips to a newbie starting out putting together a wellbeing benefits package?

I would suggest starting with data. That’s what you need to focus on if you want to be credible and to understand the status quo of where your organisation is at in the first instance.

Before you set about creating a programme of change, look at the data. You might look at the internal data within your organisation, but data can also include insights from various third party providers of services, if you’ve got those in place already. You need to look at what’s being used and what’s already gaining traction in helping you to understand what needs to remain in place.

My second big tip would be to get to know your people, to actually get out there and meet as many employees as possible so you can really understand the culture. 

My third would be, don’t worry about the technical side of wellbeing and benefits because there’s always third party experts who can help you get a better understanding of the technical aspects of reward and policies. It’s the non-technical aspects that really require the most understanding, so you can think about the benefits you need to put in place and how these might resonate.

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