PT Awards 2013 winners: Hymans Robertson receives Award for Employee Benefits

Hymans Robertson collect their award
Hymans Robertson collect their 2013 award for Employee Benefits.

Robert WaltersPensions consultancy Hymans Robertson was awarded the Award for Employee Benefits, sponsored by Robert Walters, at the Personnel Today Awards on Monday.

Here we profile our winner and the runners-up.

 


Hymans Robertson

About the organisation

Judges
Sheila Attwood, pay and benefits editor, XpertHR
Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy, Jelf Group

Hymans Robertson is an independent pensions and benefits consultancy, which was established in 1921. It employs more than 500 staff across London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh, including 74 qualified actuaries and 28 investment consultants.

The challenge

Hymans Robertson wanted to remove its “one-size-fits-all” benefits strategy and come up with something that was better tailored to the needs of different individuals in the business. It also wanted to ensure that what it offered was competitive within the industry and showcased the firm’s consulting services.

What the organisation did

  • Reviewed the FLEX@Hymans benefits scheme, first introduced in 2005, to offer more than 20 distinct benefits by 2012.
  • Segmented the scheme into five categories: health; security; wealth creation; leisure and charity.
  • Scheme operates entirely online, but Hymans has also used deskdrops, lunch and learn sessions and its intranet to communicate the benefits.
  • Incorporates features such as a bespoke selection of core and lifestyle pension funds.
  • Pension offers option to draw-down, providing flexibility for high earners.
  • One of the first medium-sized employers to offer a corporate ISA.
  • Puts 50% of the National Insurance savings on pension back into the contribution pot.
  • Free childcare vouchers for two months after return from maternity leave.
  • Staff can pay towards leave or save unused days for a sabbatical.

Benefits and achievements

  • Salary sacrifice pension scheme has delivered projected National Insurance saving of £84,000 in 2012/13.
  • More than 75% of staff were enrolled in pension scheme (before auto-enrolment).
  • Encouraging take-up for ISA and new pension scheme.
  • Seventeen-point increase in annual Best Companies engagement score, promoted to 2-star status.
  • Employee turnover has reduced from 11% in April 2011 to 8% in December 2012.
  • Average absence is 2.5 days per year per employee, compared with a national average of 4.5 days.

Judge’s comments

“[Hymans Robertson] demonstrated that it has an excellent and far-ranging benefits package with good innovation around topics such as charitable/CSR and the sabbatical bank.” – Steve Herbert

 

Our six finalists in the 2013 Personnel Today Award for Employee Benefits are as follows:


Luminus

About the organisation

Luminus is a social housing organisation that owns 7,000 homes across Cambridgeshire. It aims to provide homes, employment and real estate services and build sustainable communities in the east of England.

The challenge

Luminus’s message to staff is that “all our people are heroes”. It aims to achieve 100% buy-in from staff, a great attitude, low turnover, low absence levels and fit-for-purpose training programmes – all in spite of a difficult economic climate. Luminus wanted to continue motivating staff through employee benefits.

What the organisation did

  • Offered multi-layered benefits package including generous annual leave, flexible working hours, subsidized gym membership, car parking subsidies and childcare vouchers.
  • Sent personal letters of thanks and birthday cards from the chief executive and gifts throughout the year.
  • Introduced annual employee awards.
  • Offered wellbeing at work assessments.
  • Offered courses on subjects including retirement planning, as well as financial crisis support and emotional support through counselling.
  • Started a “Take it to the top” one-to-one meeting with chief executive.
  • Created a motivational culture built around positive thinking.

Benefits and achievements

  • Eighty-seven per cent of staff are satisfied with benefits package, compared with asector benchmark of 54%.
  • Eighty-nine per cent of believe Luminus recognises individual success and good performance, compared with a sector benchmark of 52%.
  • Almost 60% of staff have been with the business for more than five years – in 2012, retention rates improved by 18%.
  • High-quality training means a reduction of £38,000 in rent arrears.
  • Eighty-nine per cent of customers have said they were satisfied with the way a query was dealt with.

Judge’s comments

“They beat sector averages hands down, and much of that is as a result of getting employee engagement right in the first instance.” – Steve Herbert


Prudential

About the organisation

Prudential is an international financial services group with assets of more than £427 billion, and more than 23 million insurance customers. It employs more than 25,000 people worldwide.

The challenge

While Prudential has a 50/50 split between male and female colleagues, there are people of many different ages, lengths of service and working patterns employeed across the business. The challenge was to offer a wide range of benefits recognising colleagues’ diverse needs and life stages.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a flexible benefits plan called PruChoice.
  • Staff were given their own “flex fund” in the plan, which they can spend on range of benefits, including the opportunity to buy extra leave.
  • Flex funds are set at 5% of an individual’s base pay.
  • Additional benefits include a pension scheme, share ownership, 20 days’ holiday entitlement and colleague discounts.
  • Web-based system allows colleagues, partners and families to view benefits statements from any computer.
  • Benchmarked flex fund in 2011 and decided to increase funding by 2.6% of salary to ensure it was competitive.
  • Offered new benefits such as a financial planning service, a free advice service.
  • Runs communication campaigns every November for annual enrolment.

Benefits and achievements

  • Take-up rates have remained high, at 95%.
  • Achieved a record-breaking take-up for share incentive plan (21.8%).
  • Increase in interest in discounted retail vouchers.
  • In annual engagement survey in 2012, 86% of colleagues said the company provided employee benefits that met their needs.
  • Hay Group has reported Prudential’s improvement in engagement (20%) as one of the biggest they have ever seen.

Judge’s comments

“The emphasis on financial planning ties in well with the company’s own area of business. Take-up rates are high.” – Sheila Attwood


Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

About the organisation

The FOS is the official independent expert in settling complaints between consumers and businesses providing financial services. Each year it helps more than 2 million people with problems with their bank or financial service provider.

The challenge

Although the FOS’s benefits package was well established, it felt that staff did not truly understand the benefits on offer and how they could pick and choose them to suit their lifestyle. The organisation has also doubled in size in the past 18 months and wanted to ensure that staff recognised the value of their reward offerings.

What the organisation did

  • Decided benefits renewal period should be a phase of boosting interest and engagement in what they offered.
  • Came up with a promotion plan including roadshows, drop-in sessions, HR hot-desking in the business and a redesigned intranet.
  • Organised Wellbeing Month straight after renewal period.
  • Offered information and workshops from benefit providers, including training on the BenPal system.
  • Following staff feedback, increased life cover so that people could flex it up to five times’ salary.

Benefits and achievements

  • Engagement with the system is high, with 98.6% of staff accessing BenPal during the renewal period.
  • Ranked number 25 in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For (after previously not being listed).
  • Ninety-six per cent of staff have actively taken up flexible benefit options: higher than target of 90%.

Judge’s comments

“This shows that it is not all about introducing a long list of benefits, but targeting your efforts to those that employees value and communicating to employees what is available.” – Sheila Attwood


ASOS.com

About the organisation

ASOS is an online fashion site visited by millions of shoppers keen to buy its own label and other branded clothes. It has offices in London, Barnsley and Hemel Hempstead in the UK, as well as offices in the US, Australia, France, Germany and China.

The challenge

After a period of rapid growth – from 40 to more than 1,200 employees – ASOS had been reactive in using reward to attract high-performing talent. It wanted to strike a balance between offering an appropriate level of market competitiveness while ensuring its reward scheme was consistent, sustainable and cost-effective.

What the organisation did

  • Held workshops with key stakeholders to assess what employees wanted.
  • Discovered that staff preferred visual, interactive tools to print communications, so built an interactive survey where staff could “drag and drop” views.
  • Gathered the data to form a high-level design for the scheme.
  • Reviewed employer-funded benefits and removed those that were not contractual.
  • Developed “ASOS Extras”, a suite of 19 benefits, divided into three groups: My Future (pensions etc); My Wellbeing (dental, health etc) and My Lifestyle (Charitable, season ticket loans etc).
  • Offered benefits through online platform that reflected the company brand.

Benefits and achievements

  • Out of 1,129 employees, 728 submitted benefits and almost 80% visited the site.
  • Around 65% actively made a selection of rewards via ASOS Extras.
  • Ipads were the highest benefit selection made, chosen by 20% of employees.

Judge’s comments

“The employer had clearly thought about their approach to reward.” – Steve Herbert


Youth Hostel Association (YHA) England and Wales

About the organisation

YHA is one of the best-known charities in the UK. It operates without Government funding, generating its own surpluses to reinvest in the organisation. It provides accommodation across 150 locations throughout England and Wales. YHA has a membership of 193,000.

The challenge

Many of the YHA’s conditions of employment were outdated, while contracts and working hours were archaic. Culturally, it felt like there were 150 separate business units. The organisation needed to find alternative ways of rewarding staff – there had been no salary increases since 2009 and would not be for another two years.

What the organisation did

  • Arrival of new HR director in January 2010 saw a restructure, with the introduction of shared services and HR business partners.
  • Harmonised salaries using Hay methodology.
  • Introduced healthcare benefits for all staff, including seasonal workers.
  • Introduced YHA Rewards, offering savings across 30,000 online shopping outlets.
  • Offered free hostel stays for staff member and three friends, for two nights.
  • Staff can now enjoy exchange programme with hostels in 12 countries.

Benefits and achievements

  • Total savings in staff costs are around £800,000, without losing any staff.
  • Staff feel benefits package make up for lack of salary increase.
  • Time in lieu allowances cut by half, to 2,500 hours.
  • Achieved Investors in People Gold in 2012.
  • Increased use of volunteer hours means around £90,000 in savings.
  • Take-up of free accommodation has increased – from 1,600 nights in 2010/11 to almost 6,000 in 2012/13.

Judge’s comments

“The fact that they have to deal with a seasonal workforce makes the choice of benefits harder, but they have shown how this can be actively used to encourage these people to return to work.” – Sheila Attwood

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