Expedia has, in a relatively short time, grown from a small offshoot of Microsoft, with a startup of only a few people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), to now having about 5,500 employees across 23 countries.
The expansion has happened mostly in the last five years, with expansion in existing countries, opening new offices, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
Because of this rapid growth, many countries in EMEA had not been reviewed properly for some time and I was not sure how accurate my data was any more and whether we were lagging behind the competition looking at our overall reward strategy.
As we have to plan ahead with a benefits offering that looks professional, is exciting and engaging to the employees, and strategically aligns with our business and its plans for the future, my plan for the region is to think bigger and better, automate, streamline and go paperless.
My first step towards a bigger and better reward solution is to automate and streamline to ensure we get rid of manual tasks and go paperless as much as we can. After we have managed to get to a level where we can process and manage our benefits more quickly and accurately, we can start to look for the additional ‘nice to haves’ that gives us a competitive edge.
My problem was that to get to this first step, we needed to find out where we were today in much greater detail across all Expedia organisations in the region before we could start planning any other efficiencies.
As a solution, we decided to mass-audit all our benefits in all the countries that had not been reviewed properly recently. We wanted an answer to whether, across the 23 countries, we had any ‘black holes’ (that were non-compliant or if we were lagging behind competitively).
Expedia decided to partner with a global advisory firm, and together we set up the framework for the audit. After the audit had been done, we held an EMEA benefits summit, which involved going through these findings and prioritising what work needed to be done.
It was a great starting line for all parties involved in the reward area. Key stakeholders were informed and booked to attend two full-day sessions in our London office. People from overseas and within the region came together for these two days to talk through the audit and set a goal for going forward.
It was a great success and other teams got a better understanding of what work is needed across the region and what resources are required to cover it all. Also, this made it easier for us to set expectations out to the business with regard to what to expect in renewed or new benefits.
The audit was well worth the time and money spent on it because we needed a solid set of data to work from and a clear priority list for the year ahead. This will now help us to aim for that bigger and better solution we are looking for.
Mirka Slater is Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) benefits manager at Expedia
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