Employee Benefits Awards 2021 winners

Best Alignment of Benefits to
Business Strategy
Winner: CSSC

Our judges said the winner of this category had achieved strong cultural change through its commitment to flexibility and accountability. It also showed good alignment between organisational purpose and its benefits strategy.

They thought the business had clearly put its money where its mouth is by funding a fifth objective, and they liked the fact that is was putting its people first during such a difficult time.

Natalie Goddard, head of customer experience at CSSC, said: “We are quite a small, unique organisation, so for us it’s a great achievement to win this award.”

Stuart Slavicky, head of marketing and communications at CSSC, said: “For us to win this award, it shows the passion and commitment we put into employee wellbeing and what we offer our staff. We are so proud to have won.”

Best DC Pensions Strategy

Winner: University of Lincoln

This organisation faced a great challenge in shifting from a defined benefit to a defined contribution scheme. According to our judges, its strategy was crystal clear and rigorously thought through. It also showed good innovation by adding financial wellbeing and an ISA scheme to the package.

The judges said the fact that it was achieved so smoothly and with so little resistance is remarkable, and testament to the quality of the project.

Natasha McLaren, pensions manager at University of Lincoln, said: “I’m ecstatic about winning, I wasn’t prepared for it all. We’ve put together such a good strategy this year in terms of our provision for DC [defined contribution], so we decided to enter. We’re really delighted to win the award.”

Best Financial Wellbeing Strategy

Winner: Experian

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This very strong entry demonstrated good detail from strategy to delivery. The organisation showed outstanding innovation through demographic analysis, podcasts and social media.

Judges particularly liked the way it had aligned its internal delivery and vision to its external brand and customer focus, describing the results as “compelling”.

John Webb, senior consumer affairs executive at Experian, said: “It’s wonderful recognition of the work we’ve done to support our employees, particularly through a tumultuous time over the last year or two, so we’re very proud.

“An immense amount of work went into this, from the wellbeing team to the HR team, through to consumer affairs which is financial education. A lot of people put in a lot of work to make this happen.

“Supporting our employees is a priority for us, particularly as a financial services company, so we put a lot of effort into making sure our employees are financially educated and looked after.”

Best Use of Benefits to Support Diversity, Inclusion and the Employee Experience Winner: Invosys

Our judges absolutely loved the passion and innovation that ran through this submission. It had an incredible focus on the employee experience, with a fantastic range of relevant benefits that achieved the aim of being fun and different, and full of personality.

They said the breadth and depth of creativity that has gone into the organisation’s benefits offering and communications was simply “brilliant”, with the results showing a strong positive impact on employee engagement and a corresponding decrease in sickness absence and voluntary attrition.

Dan Fish, former chief people officer at Invosys, said: “I’m really excited to have won. We had great benefits and we aligned them to everything we’re trying to do. We decided to enter as we knew we had something special with our benefits and engagement, we thought we’d try and benchmark ourselves against other companies.”

Best Benefits to Support Employees during the Pandemic - Small Employer
Winner: Trayport

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The winning entry included a wide variety of initiatives which spanned all areas of wellbeing. Communication was evidently important, as well as the ability to flex the benefits offer as new issues arose. Overall, the organisation had a well set-out approach and planned ahead, achieving superb results on the back of a strong strategy.

David Glennon, rewards manager at Trayport, said: “It’s a reflection on the team that during a particularly difficult time we’ve pivoted, we all came together, and came up with some really inspirational ideas that employees really appreciated. It was a team effort; we couldn’t have done it without contributions from people team office support and communication teams.”

Best Benefits to Support Employees during the Pandemic - Large Employer
Winner: Bank of America

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With a clear and visible strategy, the winner of this category displayed a great response to the pandemic and the social issues which emerged. It offered very impressive support for families with caring responsibilities and great financial support and assistance to staff, also showing strong evidence of results of the initiatives.

Alison Kanabe, senior vice president and head of pensions and benefits in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at Bank of America, said: “The bank has tried so hard to support its employees over the past year and my team has also worked incredibly hard to support staff and make a difference. I feel fantastic to have won, it’s a great reflection on the hard work of my team, the partners, leaders and everyone else involved.”

Best Healthcare and Wellbeing Benefits

Winner: AWE

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The winners had a clearly articulated benefits strategy and a three-pillar approach. It took a brave step in recognising that 30 years of the same approach was due for change, and adapted its selection process to ensure that the desired integrated service was what it wanted. It made impressive engagement improvements and bold mental health interventions, showing some good results in a very traditional sector.

Cleo Howie, wellbeing manager at AWE, said: “It really is wonderful to be externally recognised for all the hard work that we’ve put in over the past two years. There’s really tough competition, other organisations here are brilliant and really inspiring, but we are so thrilled that our healthcare benefits have been recognised.”

Best Benefits Communications

Winner: Lindsay and Gilmour Pharmacy

Our winners demonstrated a solid strategy, showing flexibility and awareness of environmental factors due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus). The entry showed the importance placed by the employer on the wellbeing of its employees. Its use of multiple communication channels was outstanding, with impressive engagement results. Overall it was an incredibly strong entry.

Philip Galt, managing director and superintendent pharmacist at Lindsay and Gilmour, said: “I am especially proud to accept this award on behalf of our team as we take enormous pride as a business in nurturing a positive working environment and supporting our colleagues through their career with us. The honour recognises our effective and innovative approach to benefits communications, using recognition and reward to double our employee engagement.”

Best Flexible Benefits Plan

Winner: EDF

Our judges loved the winner’s focused strategy and alignment to its wider business goals. Senior management advocacy and use of focus groups to direct the journey. There was also a strong and clear link to the company values.

Overall, the results and improved engagement levels demonstrated that the new schemes were supporting both employee and business drivers, as well as contributing to UK wide reductions in carbon omissions. The addition of personal stories demonstrated the ongoing focus on people across the organisation.

Vanessa Corsie, benefits and pensions operations manager at EDF, said: “I’m really excited and pleased about winning as my team has worked so hard. I wanted to get recognised for what we had done and the work we’ve put in. We’ve kept a lot of employees happy in a tough time and I’m pleased about that.”

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HR or Benefits Team of the Year

Winner: University of Lincoln

This team responded positively during the pandemic to move to a more digital and virtual world and way of working, making good use of its hubs and achieving a tricky pensions project at the same time.

The results span a number of aspects of HR and business strategy – including savings in HR resource through innovation, evidence of high levels of engagement with wellbeing initiatives, reductions in processing time for pensions and much more. This was a great achievement and the team demonstrated what can be achieved through collaborative working.

Ian Hodson, head of reward at the University of Lincoln, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to win this award. As a team, we’ve worked really hard this year in really challenging times to really rethink our benefits, to virtualise them and make them accessible, particularly around the wellbeing agenda. We’ve done some big projects this year: we’ve moved to pensions that have kept us financially sustainable, and also run virtual running clubs, virtual exercise classes and brought in recognition cards to keep our community connected. We’re absolutely delighted; a huge thank you on behalf of the University of Lincoln.”

Best Mental Health Strategy

Winner: AWE

This category winner had a really comprehensive and holistic strategic approach, with “fabulous” results. It actively identified that mental health needed to be an area of focus, linking both to strategic aims and to the organisation’s four pillars of wellbeing. It implemented a range of initiatives, including support groups and virtual events, and trained wellbeing champions and mental health first aiders. This was underpinned by education and support for managers.

The results of its engagement survey clearly demonstrated the impact of its significant achievements over the past year. Alongside this, the uptake and usage levels were impressive, further evidenced by the organisation’s place as number 21 in the 25 best big companies to work for.

Cleo Howie, wellbeing manager at AWE, said: “On behalf of AWE, I’m delighted; mental health is such an important topic, it’s had much more attention over the past few years and we’ve worked hard on getting a strategy that really supports everyone. We are a unique organisation so it’s important that we support everyone proactively, be preventative, and then also react when people need it.

“It’s wonderful for all our hard work to be recognised. We work really collaboratively with lots of different parts of the business with full support of all our directors.”

Best Use of Benefits Technology

Winner: Tesco Stores

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The judges thought this was a really impressive entry. The organisation managed to get core reward data into the hands of thousands of employees in a way that was compelling.

The challenge faced by an organisation of this scale and diversity of workers makes this a great achievement. It showed a good use of employee feedback to build a highly relevant platform, with great platform engagement results and positive environmental results too.

Louise Pocock, head of pensions, pay and benefits communications at Tesco, said: “We’re really happy to win. We’d put a lot of time and effort into thinking about our total reward, and it was a real company-wide effort collaboration to create it.”

Lead benefits manager Paul Hunt added: “It’s been a long old slog and a lot of effort from colleagues in Poland and India, as well as the UK. It feels really great to be recognised and we’re really proud.”

Most Motivational Benefits

Winner: Siemens

Our judges were impressed with the innovative ideas that were implemented at this global organisation, and applauded its ability to maintain consistency in recognition from country to country.

Use of a strong brand and technology allowed an offering which undoubtedly energises and motivates employees, adding that the organisation’s strategy was very detailed and well thought out.

In addition, the judges thought that the transparency of the awards was a lovely feature and way to celebrate and share successes.

Heike Avramovic, head of compensation and benefits for north-west Europe, Siemens, said: “This is so amazing for us as a team, it’s been a long time coming. We’ve had many colleagues involved in this, not only here in the UK but it’s a global project and a massive order for all of us. It’s a big team effort.

Best Voluntary Benefits

Winner: DHL Supply Chain

The winning entrant recognised it had several different audiences to reach, with varying needs. It had an incredibly comprehensive wellbeing and benefits platform that looked after employees and also their families – really going above and beyond, with clearly excellent results.

The judges were impressed with how the organisation changed its offering based on staff feedback, for example by introducing discounted tutoring for children following staff concerns. It also had great results from its staff survey, with 84% of staff saying wellbeing benefits were good, very good or excellent.

Debbie Fennell, senior benefits manager at DHL Supply Chain, said: “We decided to enter as we’d done so much work over the last year, including introducing 100 wellbeing champions this year, that we wanted to see how we’d compare to the rest of the market. It feels amazing to win, it’s been a hard 18 months and this is just great.”

Best Pensions Communications

Winner: Lloyd's Register

This was an outstanding entry, according to our judges. The organisation had a clear vision, and demonstrated an understanding of the issue faced. It listened to its employees and its engagement results were very positive, showing a good level of detail from strategy to delivery. Its results were well demonstrated, with its objectives achieved.

Gregory Allen, global resourcing director at Lloyd’s Register, said: “In a world with a lot of young people, pensions aren’t always what they think about. But Lloyd’s Register has always believed in investing in people’s tomorrow. We really focus on our people and the future of our people. Not just in their career but also in how they live the rest of their lives. I’m over the moon that we won; it’s nice to be nominated but to win has blown me away.”

Best Supplier to Work For

Winner: People Matter

The key to success for this employer was its excellent starting point of asking employees what would benefit them. This entry gave a great overview of the organisation’s people and wellbeing strategy, which was concise but informative about its three-pillar approach. It showed innovation in the level of employee input sought, with good turnover and engagement statistics. The results showed the impact of these great programmes.

Amy King, co-founder and CEO of People Matter, said: “We believe in what we do and we’re passionate; why come to work unless you love what you do every single day. We work with our clients to help with mental health, so we live and breathe everything we do for ourselves as well. To win [this award] just brings to life everything we stand for.”

Best Benefits to Support Work-Life Balance
Winner: CSSC

This organisation made wellbeing a personal objective, which our judges thought was a great idea because it gave ownership to staff, made them focus on it and prompted discussion with managers.  It had a clear strategy to put wellbeing at the heart of the business, as well as a bold and clearly effective plan to make managers and individuals accountable for this.

It achieved great results, evident from staff comments and also the percentage increase in staff retention and engagement.

Daniel Barrett, field sales executive at CSSC, said: “This is something we’ve worked towards for the past 100 years. Work-life balance is something that we’ve fought strongly for, so to win this award is a special occasion and is something we will share with our members, our volunteers and our staff, hopefully for the next 100 years.”

Grand Prix

Winner: University of Lincoln

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The judges described this winning entry as a well thought-out project from beginning to end, with very positive outcomes for the individual and the organisation.

The winner had a clear strategic vision and approach and the judges thought it had an excellent strategy to control costs and to save jobs in the face of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

They commented that there was solid evidence of innovation, shown by an excellent concept which was well introduced, while also increasing engagement. They were incredibly impressed by the organisation’s overall achievements.

Ian Hodson, head of reward at the University of Lincoln, said: “Winning the Grand Prix for an outstanding piece of work is the cherry on the cake. We have done some great pieces of work and I hope this represents the diversity of what we’ve been doing, from reforming our pension schemes to virtualising our wellbeing offering. On behalf of the team at the University of Lincoln, I’m incredibly grateful for all their hard work and effort. It’s very nice to be recognised.”

Employee Benefits Professional of the Year

Winner: Rachel Murray, benefits lead and rewards manager at
Wood Group UK

The judges were impressed by Rachel’s unwavering commitment to improving the employee experience since joining the reward team at Wood Group UK in November 2018.

Initially in the role of compensation lead and transitioning to benefits lead in December 2019, Rachel has been an active participant in the global wellbeing community of practice. She has been contributing to global strategy, championing Wood’s approach to wellness, and actively engaging across the region to connect wellbeing initiatives to local needs and cultures.

Her peers described her unfailing attitude as an inspiration to her colleagues and wider HR community – an attitude that ensures everyone upholds up their standards to achieve the best results. When it comes to trailblazing, Rachel has been able to share initiatives which she has led from a regional perspective, as a result of strategic review identifying gaps in Woods’ offering, and in response to engagement feedback.

Her work in simplifying the company’s offering and communication style, and enabling its employees to have greater access to vital wellbeing tools at a time of great uncertainty, stood out to the judges and was the deal-breaker for the winner of this year’s Employee Benefits Professional of the Year.

Rachel Murray, benefits lead and reward manager at Wood Group UK, said: “I feel totally overwhelmed about winning. It’s not just an individual award for me, it’s a team effort and it goes to everyone really. I only found out that my team had entered me for this award on the way here. Like everyone else, we had a really unprecedented year with everything going on, and we tried to do what we could for staff where possible in terms of employee benefits.”