Robert Gordon University, commonly called RGU, is a public university in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, and the Scottish University of the Year 2021. Julie Skinner is Resourcing and Benefits Manager at RGU and explained how and why they are using the Aberdeen Gift Card in 2023.
What rewards/incentives/benefits does RGU offer its staff?
“RGU is a government funded organisation so we have to work within the limits of our pay structure, however, it’s not all about pay nowadays, particularly following the pandemic when people started to take a sense check on their life and reconsider what is important to them. We try to offer a diverse range of benefits. Staff wellbeing is high on the agenda, with everyone receiving 46 days annual leave, allowing staff to take significant breaks from work. Plus, we have a hybrid work policy, allowing 50% of hours to be worked remotely, which is really valued by staff. RGU offers a good level of employer pension contributions as well as the opportunity to top up with additional voluntary contributions.. Our on-campus nursery enables staff to sacrifice their salary to pay for nursery fees, which offers significant tax and national insurance savings. We also have a travel to work discount scheme, a bike to work initiative, and in 2023, we introduced long service awards for 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years.”
What are your key objectives for your rewards/incentives/benefits?
“Our ultimate aim is to attract and retain the right people at RGU. We have an increasingly diverse workforce. Each employee’s individual needs differ and will change at different stages in their life so it’s important that any rewards, incentives or benefits reflect that. For example, getting tax and national insurance benefits through additional pension contributions might be important to someone in the latter stages of their career, the onsite nursery provision and holiday camps are important to those with young families and bus and retail savings often appear to our early career staff.”
Why did you choose Town & City Gift Cards?
“When we introduced the long service awards, we undertook research looking at whether it should have a financial element and what other organisations offered, such as gifts for employees to choose via a catalogue or a meal for two. Once more, it was important that the recognition was reflective of the diversity of our staff, and we opted for the Aberdeen Gift Card, part of the Town & City Gift Cards initiative, for that reason. People don’t want to be told what reward they’re having because it might not meet their needs. Societally, we’ve moved far beyond the carriage clock for the mantlepiece as a universal long service award gift.
“The Aberdeen Gift Card can be spent with around 300 businesses in the city, giving our staff the choice to spend at their discretion in many shops, restaurants, venues, hotels and more. In the current cost of living crisis, making the reward flexible and useful is even more important. We also appreciated the fact that the card has to be spent here in Aberdeen, putting the focus back on the community. The Aberdeen Gift Card is led by Aberdeen Inspired, and that provides reassurance that it is an initiative for the benefit of our city. Investing in our city is the right thing for us to do.”
What was your experience of using Town & City Gift Cards?
“We’re using the Aberdeen Gift Card as part of the reward staff receive for long service accompanied by a certificate from RGU’s Principal. For 10 years, staff will receive a certificate, for 20 years they receive a certificate and a £100 Aberdeen Gift Card, 30 years is a certificate and a £200 Aberdeen Gift Card, whilst 40 years is a certificate and a £300 Aberdeen Gift Card. Line managers are notified in advance if they have a team member due to receive a long service award so they can be presented to the individual in an appropriate way.
“We ordered the Aberdeen Gift Cards online and they arrived locked, to be activated once we had received the cards. The ordering process was easy and we were given lots of options and flexibility in how the cards could be utilised. Our long service award order was quite straightforward with a big batch of cards to be delivered at once, but the flexibility on offer could become more important if we used the cards in other ways in the future.”
What feedback have you received?
“The first batch of Aberdeen Gift Cards have just gone out and we have ordered our next batch, and so far, it has been really positive. There are many gift cards out there, and some will offer incentives for large orders, but for us, the incentive for choosing the Aberdeen Gift Card is the story it tells about our values as an organisation. Choosing the Aberdeen Gift Card represents a powerful message about the investment we’re making in the local community.”