Elizabeth Veihan: HR manager at Delice de France

It can be difficult for employers to implement effective benefits communication. As a company, we face specific additional challenges. Not all staff are desk based or always in one location, we work a shift system and a lot of our staff are drivers. We face an additional challenge as Polish is the first language of a substantial part of the workforce.

A good example of how we overcome these barriers to communicate on a day-to-day basis lies in the promotion of our payroll-giving scheme. We set ourselves the target of achieving 10% uptake among staff in our first year, which would ensure we were awarded the government’s Gold Quality Mark in recognition of our commitment.

I was determined this project would succeed but we knew that we needed to speak to every member of staff for the best outcome. We therefore masterminded a launch in partnership with Workplace Giving UK. Staff can give as little as £3.90 for the charity of their choice to receive £5.

We agreed a plan of action, which included a 24-hour round-the-clock series of presentations for shift workers; an e-mailshot campaign to allow us to communicate through the promotion, and we gave all call centre staff an extra break to log off and speak with an adviser. All materials were translated into Polish and we used an in-house Polish translator to work alongside the Workplace Giving UK team.

In addition to reaching our target in just two months, the campaign has also delivered huge HR benefits. We have had the opportunity to reconnect with staff based in depots that we don’t visit on a regular basis and colleagues have really appreciated the one-to-one focus, whether in the form of bespoke literature, or the free iced gingerbread men used to promote the scheme.

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The HR department has enjoyed the equivalent of a team-building exercise and we have had a great time planning the project. Members of the board, who were concerned that we might be taking on too much with the project, are delighted with the money that we have raised for charity and the boost in morale. [So] my advice to other HR teams facing similar dilemmas: think outside the box and look at ways of communicating directly to staff.

Elizabeth Veilhan is HR manager at Delice de France