Insurer Admiral Group has approximately 7,500 employees, predominantly based in Cardiff and working in roles ranging from customer service through to technical support. It has a relatively young workforce, with an average age in the early 30s, roughly equally split between men and women.
Ceri Assiratti, people services manager at Admiral Group, says: “We have a philosophy that people who love what they do, do better. We try to create a working environment where staff feel respected and part of the business.”
One of the methods used to encourage this employee buy-in is quite literally to engage them with the success and health of the business itself, by making them shareholders.
After 12 months, employees are given £1,800-worth of free shares twice a year. After three years, they can decide to either keep them or cash them in. Additional shares are given to star performers and those in management roles once a year.
Phil Thomas, benefits manager at Admiral Group, explains: “[The share scheme] is probably the biggest [benefit] that staff really value. It’s something that makes Admiral stand apart from any other business; people really feel involved in what we’re doing here.”
In addition to helping employees see the fruits of their successes directly, Admiral’s reward strategy takes into account the need to ease financial stressors that might prevent them from performing their best. One of the benefits that works to this effect is its home mover loan.
Employees are able to borrow up to £2,000 as a salary advance, to be paid back over 18 months. This is an interest-free method of accounting for the costs of moving house, such as solicitor and estate agent fees, with funds they can access within two or three days.
“Because we have a young workforce, it’s very often a first purchase they’re going through, or they haven’t built up savings over many years,” says Assiratti. “Stress is something we’re concerned about, like every employer, and a lot of that stress is due to [factors] outside the workplace. If we can relieve the stress levels then we like to do so.”
According to Assiratti and Thomas, it is important to listen to employees and continually adapt. In light of this, in February 2019, Admiral conducted a staff survey which asked deliberately open-ended questions, aiming to get qualitative, in-depth insights into what initiatives might be valued in the future.
“It’s a very caring business, very people-oriented, and we really do want the best for our staff and want them to feel valued; what we do with our benefits is show them that,” says Thomas. “We currently offer a good range of benefits, really focused on the staff, but we don’t sit back and relax, we’re always asking employees what they need and what would make their lives easier both inside and outside of work.”