How being a Living Wage Employer helped us win at the EB Awards12.11.20
Chief People Officer
In October, we were absolutely thrilled to be crowned ‘Best Supplier to Work For’ at the Employee Benefits Awards. As Chief People Officer, I am so proud of the People team and our people managers for the hard work they’ve done to make this a reality, and grateful for every single Benefexer who’s joined us on this journey and trusted us with their employee experience. Although the award focused on the people and culture strategies we’d implemented over the previous 12 months, I believe that we laid the foundations for this years ago. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all began, but I know that a significant date in our company’s history was 16th April 2016.
Becoming a Living Wage Employer
At Benefex, our mission is We believe that everyone deserves an exceptional experience at work, every day, and we’ve been helping our customers deliver this for 17 years. When it came to looking inwards at our own employee value proposition in 2016, we knew that paying a wage that was not only fair, but that allowed employees to achieve a healthy blend of work and life, was, truthfully, at the foundation of a great employee experience. While we try to excel ourselves and keep pushing boundaries in all areas of our culture, we know that – when it comes down to it – all the wellbeing workshops and lifestyle benefits in the world are no substitute for a stable income.
Although we paid well above the National Minimum Wage as it was at the time, we wanted to do more, so we revamped our infrastructure, overhauled our pay bandings, and increased our lowest paid employees’ wages so that everyone at Benefex was earning a Real Living Wage.
At the time, this made an immediate impact on those employees. When we spoke to them about the difference it had made, this varied from being in a position to afford additional childcare, being able to go on family holidays for the first time in years, or having the ability to afford things like driving lessons and gym memberships to improve their quality of life. As gratifying as this was to see, I’m even prouder of the long-term effects. Gaining our Living Wage accreditation in 2016 laid the foundation for an improved learning and development programme in 2016, our new company values in 2017, and ultimately, for an award-winning EVP in 2020.
What did we do in the months leading up to the award?
Across 2018/19, our strategy was to build on the shake-up we’d made to our pay structure, and overhaul the rest of our employee experience, looking at everything from our reward and benefits package, to the place our employees work, to learning and development, and everything in between. Our aim was to create an employee experience which genuinely rewarded our people for all of their efforts and hard work.
Reward and Benefits
Central to our EVP is our Marvellous Benefits Scheme that sits on our OneHub technology and rivals schemes provided by many of our enterprise customers (despite our smaller size) in both the number (27) and range of benefits on offer. There is a huge focus on core benefits which have become even more important this year, but Marvellous also includes innovative benefits such as Activity Pass and health and spa treatments, appealing to our employees’ young demographic and their families. Employees had told us that their existing tech-based benefit wasn’t meeting their needs. So, we replaced it with two new benefits – Techscheme and Technology Purchase, which offered a simpler consumer-type experience that’s much easier for employees to sign up to and order exactly what they want. Those who purchased things like tablets, laptops and TVs have really got their money’s worth in 2020!
Learning and development
Our Benefex University programme provides continuous professional and personal development opportunities for all employees. This new offering consists of a series of face-to-face training courses along with a suite of online courses via our e-learning platform lesson.ly. This initiative isn’t just about employees attending training, but actually showing real engagement by delivering their own training to their colleagues. Courses don’t have to be work related and topics are as varied as Excel clinics to Dungeons and Dragons!
The 2018 Global Talent Trends study found that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. Even before the pandemic hit, we’d adapted all roles to ensure they can be worked flexibly, with employees able to work from home and flex their hours so that their working pattern works for both the business and for them. Our new starters are also able to work flexibly from day one. Our flexible working outlook goes hand-in-hand with our beliefs as a Living Wage Employer – we should do all we can to help our employees make the most of what matters to them, both in- and outside of work.
Our Living Wage accreditation paved the way for cultural growth
As a result of all of this hard work, we greatly increased our eNPS score, reduced employee turnover, and, even in the pandemic, we’ve been attracting and retaining some of the best people on the planet. Even though paying the Real Living Wage is now considered ‘a given’ at Benefex, it continues to set us apart as an employer of choice, and it’s still appreciated by our people nearly five years later. I believe that the huge overhaul we made back in 2016 to become a Living Wage employer set a precedent for our culture going forward. We don’t shy away from facing up to our challenges and making significant developments; we’ve been brave in our People strategy before, and we’ll continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible if it improves our employees’ experience with us.
Kathryn joined Benefex in October 2014 and has overall responsibility for managing the HR function within Benefex. She has over ten years’ experience of HR management across a variety of sectors. During this time, she has not only managed HR teams but has also had responsibility for operational departments, meaning she has a great understanding of what it actually takes to get a business delivering.
Kathryn’s remit at Benefex covers a wide spectrum, from developing a recruitment strategy to bring in the very best people to deliver to our clients, to designing and delivering in house training solutions, to ensuring our company values are at the heart of everything we do. She is passionate about ensuring work becomes a great place to be for absolutely everyone, and believes that life is far too short for us to spend it dreading Monday mornings. As she’s super multi-talented, she also runs her own HR blog, Up Close and Personnel.
Kathryn’s claim to fame is that she is so bad at parking, she once drove her car into the side of her old office. We’re hoping she doesn’t go for a repeat performance here!