i-level launches innovative online benefits scheme

i-level, one of the UK’s fastest growing digital communications agencies, has revamped its employee reward offering in partnership with Thomsons Online Benefits, the flexible benefits experts.  The new scheme design and brand, i-benefit, encompasses the young, innovative and digital nature of the company.  i-benefit has been a great success, both in terms of meeting business objectives, and outstripping expectations of employee take up.  The scheme has been nominated for the prestigious 2010 Employee Benefits Award for most effective benefits strategy.

i-level is the UK’s largest independent, integrated digital communications agency.  It is an essential part of holding on to competitive advantage for the HR team to attract and retain the best staff.  Turnover can be as high as 30 percent in this industry, and it was felt that i-level staff undervalued their existing remuneration.  i-level determined to create the best and most innovative benefits scheme for its work force.  It wanted to create excitement and awareness around the true value of the benefits on offer; communicate this in a meaningful and relevant way; increase staff referrals and attract candidates motivated by better remuneration.  They appointed Thomsons Online Benefits to help them achieve this.

Staff surveys and focus groups highlighted the desire to remove paper bureaucracy from the benefits process, and to transition administration to an online system.  Staff also wanted face-to-face meetings to explain benefits.  They also showed that  i-level staff were interested in trading one benefit for another, thought a better benefits package would improve their loyalty and engagement and highlighted to scheme designers which benefits would be most popular.

As well as traditional benefits such as holiday, dental and health cover, the new scheme offers more innovative benefits such as additional half-days off on birthdays, wild card training vouchers for non-work related courses (some staff are now learning things like monster truck driving!), broadband and mobile phones and discounted dining.  The communications reflected the modern forward-looking personality of the company.  Thomsons created the ‘i’character and eyes brand, and this appeared on all communications.  The campaign began by removing all mugs in the office and replacing them with ‘i’character mugs on launch day as a teaser.  Further communications were sent out to employees’ mobile phones, including the i-Phone, were animated on the internet and distributed prospective employees on USB sticks.  These messages continue to raise the profile of the benefit offering.  i-level’s HR Director James Miller is delighted with how the scheme was communicated,

“It felt really innovative, it felt quite now and it was good using digital media because at the end of the day that’s what we’re about as a company.  People have found it really good fun and I’m really, really pleased with the concept we have come up with.”

The scheme has been a success on every level.  99 percent of staff agree that their benefits package has been improved, and three quarters of the work force tailored their benefits themselves through the online portal.  Pension take up has nearly doubled, and over 77 percent of staff agree that the launch of i-benefits has had a positive impact on their motivation and engagement.  i-level hopes to fill 50 percent of staff vacancies through referrals, and improved staff retention is also having a financial impact.  Reduced administration and savings through salary sacrifice add to the financial success.  Introducing the scheme with their partners Thomsons Online Benefits is expected to recover costs of the project for i-level, plus a further 430% ROI (net investment) in year 1 alone.

Stephen Rust, CEO of i-level comments, “The introduction of our ‘i-benefit’ flexible benefits programme was a key milestone in our overall company roadmap and has been incredibly well received.  A great result.”

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