Heike Avramovic, head of reward and policy, Siemens


What topics will your Employee Benefits Connect session cover?

I would like to cover three initiatives and programmes, which we started in Siemens, and they are part of how we start to rethink reward for our future of work. The first one is how we organise and describe work, in particular for our senior management group. We changed our way from the past, where we did position evaluation, to going completely level-less. The second one is the revamp of our flexible benefits scheme, which we feel is the foundation for providing the accessibility and flexibility which is demanded by the future workforce. [The] third one would be talking about employee experience, which is becoming more and more important. That’s actually a cross-functional initiative in HR and with the business in Siemens, which we’ve launched last year, called Futuremakers. [This] was a massive campaign we did across the country, all around the world, where we work on our image at Siemens, but it’s special to us because it’s not only employer branding working on this, it is all of HR. Each of us has a part of it and it was very successful because we all in HR, or in IT, had a part of this and did showcase how we work together as one and showcased all the good things we’re doing around making our Futuremakers in Siemens.

Why do you feel these topic points are important to discuss?

Let’s start with the level-less piece. This is a ground-breaking thing. As far as I’m aware, we are the only ones who have done this, moving away from a rigid framework for senior management, moving away from rigid models. That’s a culture shift and if we think of the future of work, we need also the future leader and the future leader cannot be restricted by things like grade. We need that flexibility. So first, getting a culture shift for getting leaders in the right place. 

Same with our flexible benefits scheme. We did a lot of research [and] it’s not about what we provide in our flexible benefits. Irrespective of who we talk to in the organisation, we have five generations in our organisation, it’s still the same things in terms of what they want. What we get much more pressure on is accessibility and the flexibility to have a bespoke, customised approach to what we deliver as benefits. We did empower them massively because we give them the choice and they are highly engaged, but they have become very impatient consumers. They want to have a shopping experience, they want to have it here and now, the immediate rewards, and that is why this is not a future thing, the future of work in that sense is already here. People who ask for things and not just accept [the] package which is given. We very much believe [employers] can offer the best benefits in the world, the best reward packages, [but] if the rest of the experience of the employees doesn’t meet this future environment they expect to have with a technology [organisation], as we are, we might fail and we will lose our key skills and talents. We have to be true to our word and become a future-maker [organisation] in every aspect. It’s a journey we are on but we accelerated this journey through all these initiatives we’ve done and all the stuff we’ve done around Futuremakers.

What are the main takeaway messages for delegates from your session?

For me, really it is the future of work is already here. [Employers] really need empowering technologies, invest in technology. It’s about real-time reward. [Employees] can make changes when [they] need to make them and don’t have to wait for annual enrolment or have to [use] lengthy forms and sign off processes. Make it a user-led reward creation.

Why should HR and benefits professionals attend your session in particular?

We are one of the big employers in the UK, with 15,000 [employees]. We’re really sharing some insights where we’ve taken a bold step in [to] the unknown with some of the initiatives, like the level-less in particular.

What does the future of reward look like to you?

It moves away from annual cycles. It becomes more immediate. It empowers immediate reward. Recognition will become more important than annual targets. We probably will move away from annual bonuses. We will digitalise the world of benefits fully and we’ll make it user-led.

What are three hot trends in the industry for 2019?

There’s so much happening. [In terms of] pensions, it’s master trusts, moving away from [employers] having [their] own scheme. I hope one day we will have something like a master flexible benefits. It’s using pension funding models for other financial products we could provide in benefits. And I think it really is moving away from annual bonuses to project bonuses, immediate recognition, empowering managers to reward as they see fit, empower them.