Michael Stuart, vice president, global human resources
and shared services, IHS
Forty-five acquisitions in five years.
It’s an incredible story of growth for information giant IHS. This rapid expansion, which doubled the IHS workforce — has led to numerous changes at the company, both externally and internally. One significant internal change was the launch of an online total rewards portfolio to communicate the value of IHS’ total rewards program to all employees.
“Since 2007, we’ve added thousands of new employees around the world, all coming from organizations with different compensation and reward structures,” says Michael Stuart, vice president of global human resources and shared services at IHS. “While our total rewards program — encompassing salary and stock grants, career opportunities, wellness programs, retirement plans and other benefits — is one of the most significant investments the company makes, our employees weren’t seeing the overall picture. They couldn’t see the full scope of the investment the organization is making in them.”
He adds, “Each component of the program is designed to motivate and reward employees, and align their performance with the company’s success. I really believe we do total rewards very well at IHS, but we hadn’t done a great job of conveying information about the programs. As our organization is so acquisitive, we knew it was critical to effectively explain the reward components and communicate our strong commitment to all employees — new and existing.”
The solution: an online total rewards portfolio.
“We wanted to build an interactive tool that would give each employee access to up-to-date details about their personal total rewards portfolio,” says Stuart. “The tool had to be convenient to access and needed to contain comprehensive information, including clear definitions of all that IHS offers its valued workforce.”
The first step was choosing a strong, collaborative partner. “It was imperative for us to team up with a trusted advisor that had the technological expertise and best practices to make the online portfolio a reality,” says Amy Silverman, senior director of global compensation and human resource information systems. “After having worked with Towers Watson for many years on other successful projects, we knew they were right for the job and would be a good fit with our organizational culture.”
Next came building a solid business case. To get senior leadership on board, HR clearly demonstrated the value and necessity of the online tool.
While both the CEO and the president fully endorsed the plan, they made two stipulations. “Senior leadership approved this unplanned cost because they saw its importance,” says Stuart. “But they insisted that the online portfolio include a stock modeler tool and that we meet an aggressive deadline of five months.”
(Left to right) Amy Silverman, senior director, global compensation and
human resource information systems, IHS; Pat Maley, director, global
benefits, IHS; and Towers Watson senior consultant Mike Tyukodi
Leadership considered the stock modeler tool to be crucial because of the company’s unique policy of offering all colleagues the opportunity to receive stock awards. So information that would explain the value of IHS stock and the company’s robust stock option program became a key component of the online tool. The tight deadline was based on leadership’s belief that the online portfolio would get more attention if it was launched during the same period as performance management reviews and the annual compensation cycle.
This timeline was quite challenging for several reasons. The HR team was not only immersed in typical beginning-of-the-year tasks — including open enrollment, compensation changes and bonus payouts — but was also managing three separate acquisitions.
“We clearly had numerous competing priorities, making the need for a strong partnership with Towers Watson all the more vital,” says Pat Maley, senior director of global benefits at IHS. “The consultants’ guidance, collaboration and flexibility were critical to our success.”
Crafting the Blueprints
Before team members could begin designing the interactive portfolio, they needed to establish very specific requirements. These included delivering all data with a high rate of accuracy, making the tool easily accessible to employees in every country via a single sign-on method, making all IHS reward offerings around the world visible to all users and eliminating the need for paper statements.
“Being green was very important,” explains Stuart. “A fully online portfolio tool supports our corporate objective of promoting environmental sustainability.”
He adds, “We also stipulated that the single sign-on be aligned with our other systems, because requiring employees to learn yet another login and password would have been just too laborious.”
Harold Klausner, Towers Watson managing consultant and
account director (left), with Michael Stuart, vice president, global
human resources and shared services, IHS
Data collection and review came next. Each country of IHS’ operations provided specific information, which was verified for accuracy and customized for the portfolio. “This phase was extremely time-consuming because we were collecting volumes of data during an extremely busy time of year — and from numerous sources,” explains Maley.
As HR was collecting and compiling the data for the portfolio, Towers Watson was busy building the stock modeler tool. Using this technology, an employee enters a hypothetical stock price or annual growth percentage, and the modeler presents the estimated value of the stock at future stock prices in U.S. dollars.
One month before the launch deadline, the team began extensive testing of the entire online portfolio. “Accuracy was a top priority, so it was imperative to run many trial statements and make any needed corrections,” says Harold Klausner, Towers Watson managing consultant and IHS account director.
Build It and They Will Come
Since its debut, the online portfolio has been praised throughout the company. Employees have found the tool very easy to navigate and say it gives them a much better understanding of the total value of their pay and benefits combined.
IHS senior leaders are also impressed with the tool: They recently awarded the company’s Circle of Excellence Award to the HR team for its collaborative work and notable end product.
But the work hasn’t stopped. The team implemented a communication campaign to increase employees’ exposure to the online portfolio. Efforts include articles and banner ads on the company intranet, webinars, information delivered via e-mail and a video of the CEO explaining the tool.
Says Silverman, “We’re proud of the portfolio. It shows employees the big picture. They can see what the company does for them, which, in turn, fosters their engagement. Highly engaged employees become high performers — increasing sales and, consequently, shareholder value. It’s a very basic yet important cycle, and our new total rewards portfolio clearly supports that cycle throughout the entire company.”
Keys to Success
IHS senior leaders offer the following words of wisdom on creating an online total rewards portfolio:
- Secure the commitment of leadership before beginning.
- Assemble a strong internal team with clearly defined responsibilities and set milestone deadlines.
- Choose the right partner — not only someone with the right technology expertise, but also someone with whom you can have a strong, open relationship. The partnership can’t be a one-way street. You must be able to push each other and question each other frequently.
- Set a realistic launch deadline. Allow enough time to fully develop the system and test every link before the launch without taking shortcuts.
- Make the portfolio very easy for employees by having a single sign-on for all systems.
- Because this is a very data-driven endeavor, don’t underestimate the importance of accuracy. No mistake is acceptable.