Hermes to design new benefits strategy based on employee feedback

Hermes-exterior

Hermes is looking to its 2,473 employees to direct a reward and HR transformation. The logistics organisation has designed a continuous employee feedback programme that it will use to create a new benefits approach specifically tailored to the wants and needs of its workforce.

Jill Maples, HR director at Hermes, says: “We’re looking at the demographics of our organisation, where people are and what they actually want. I don’t want HR sitting in its ivory tower and its officers thinking that they’re putting in things that they think people want. We’ve got to fundamentally engage with our people and our teams to understand what they want from a benefits perspective, and make sure we’re [offering] the right thing for the current generations that are going to be working in our organisation.”

The employee voice

Hermes conducts an annual staff engagement survey every July before the organisation’s peak business period begins in November. In previous years, this has focused solely on employee engagement, however, this year’s version was designed to include questions around the organisation’s benefits offering to help Maples and her team uncover what staff want from their benefits package in the coming years.

This aligns with the HR transformation project currently underway at Hermes: employee feedback will be gathered on a continual basis in order to inform how the organisation’s benefits package and reward strategy can be re-vamped to be more relevant to its workforce. “It’s so we can hear the voice of our [employees] more than we currently hear it now,” Maples adds.

To support the annual staff survey, new pulse surveys, which are shorter versions of the annual staff survey, will be introduced from February 2018 to collect additional feedback from employees on a more frequent basis. The pulse surveys will be alternated with face-to-face focus group discussions to enable employees to deliver their feedback via different mediums. The focus groups, which Hermes is looking to introduce from March 2018, will be conducted by a newly launched employee relations team, which will travel to each of the organisation’s 29 sites nationwide to speak to staff.

In the meantime, 2017’s annual staff survey will lead the thinking behind the new benefits strategy. External benchmarking research and feedback from individuals going through the recruitment process will also be used to gain a greater understanding of market-leading best practice regarding benefits in the logistics sector, adds Maples.

Maintaining employee motivation

The composition of the new benefits strategy will also be supported by Hermes’ existing employee motivation and recognition programme, Peak Treats. The Peak Treats scheme, which runs between November and mid-January, aims to motivate employees during the organisation’s busiest period in the run up to Christmas.

Although some components of the Peak Treats programme, such as pizza nights for staff working overnight to parcel up deliveries, have been in place for a number of years on an informal, localised basis, last year the scheme was developed to include an increased variety of rewards to motivate staff, as well as more recognition elements. Maples says: “What we’re trying to do is create consistency across all of the sites so everybody [is] being treated fairly. So we created some of the Peak Treats ourselves and rolled it out to sites.”

Contact centre staff can receive massages at their desks, while free fruit, bottled water, snack bars and coffee vouchers are also provided. The programme continues to incorporate pizza evenings for depot staff, but now also includes a Christmas Eve buffet for employees working over the Christmas period. For 2017, the Peak Treats scheme will be expanded further to introduce flu jab vouchers and Christmas party vouchers for teams to organise a celebration of their choice. Employees will also be able to receive on-the-spot recognition, where they will be awarded with peel and scratch cards for doing a great job.

The improved Peak Treats programme for 2017 now also features on-the-spot recognition by line managers, which includes thank-you cards and meal and drink vouchers to recognise staff who go the extra mile in their day-to-day role to ensure the heavier workload is completed and to a high standard.

Peak Treats is supported by an email newsletter, delivered on a weekly basis to all staff during peak months. It provides a business update to let employees know how their work is impacting the organisation’s bottom line, as well as highlighting stories on Hermes Heroes. This is a peer-to-peer recognition programme, run across employees, couriers and agency staff, that showcases individuals who go the extra mile to deliver Christmas presents on time, for example, one courier could not get their car up a drive so used a sledge to deliver parcels in the snow.

The Peak Treats programme concludes with the Peak Star Awards, which were held for the first time in January 2017 at the end of the 2016-2017 peak period. The peer-to-peer award scheme allows individuals and teams from across each area of the business to be nominated for their work during the peak business months. The entries are shortlisted by the HR department, and the executive board makes the final winning selections.

Supporting staff locally

In the last year, Hermes has also developed local discounts for staff. Although the organisation offers a voluntary benefits scheme, provided by Personal Group, Hermes has also made a conscious effort to source local discounts that are relevant to staff at each of its locations. “We get as much as we can locally, as well as nationally, to show people that they’re not all contracted benefits, but they’re more those little bells and whistles that make a difference,” Maples says.

The local discounts include discounted car care, hairdressing, and meals at a local fish and chip restaurant, as well as free health assessments at local gyms. The organisation has also negotiated discounts at certain hotel and gym chains, and national discounts for cinema tickets and running event entries. This is supported by its voluntary benefits scheme, which provides discounts on everything from electric products through to holidays.

“We’ll work really closely with the local community to see what we can do around each of [the] areas where we employ people,” says Maples.

Alongside the organisation’s voluntary benefit offering, Hermes also provides a flexible benefits scheme. This includes benefits such as holiday trading, private medical insurance, life assurance above the organisation’s core provision, and dental plans. “I want it to be relevant for different demographics that we now work with, […] and really flexible,” says Maples. “I think those are just the two most important things; that [employers] have a wide range of flexible and relevant benefits for the demographics that work within [the] organisation.”

Moving from manual

The organisation’s HR transformation will not only develop and revitalise its existing benefits strategy, it will also work to update the day-to-day running of the benefits function. This includes moving away from the manual processes currently in place and implementing new systems and technology.

As part of this, a new flexible benefits platform is on the agenda for 2018, says Maples. This will enable to organisation to align the previously manually-managed benefits and ensure they can be easily accessed in one place. “What I’m really keen to get done this year is to have a look at pulling all our benefits together on one platform that makes it really easy for people to be able to use. […] We’ve got to get everything away from being so manual to make it easier for people to be able to understand what benefits are out there in one place rather than it being in several different places, which it is at the minute,” she explains.

It is clear that Hermes’ benefits journey is only just unfolding, as the organisation strives to use employee feedback to transform its historical benefits offering into a fluid and flexible programme that reflects the needs of its workforce and supports its business objectives. “It’s something we’ve really taken seriously this year in relation to getting it right for our employees and our future employees, so we are competitive in the market in all our functions,” says Maples.

At a glance

Logistics organisation Hermes works with online and high street retailers across the UK to deliver products and goods from these partner businesses to the end consumer. The organisation has 2,473 permanent employees, who work across the head office and operational functions, as well as approximately 10,500 self-employed couriers, who provide the final delivery element. Typical job roles in head office include those in HR, finance, marketing, sales, client development and IT, while employees working on the operational side of the business are likely to be based in regional depots or storage bases, known internally as hubs. The majority of Hermes’ employees are aged between 18 and 35; 1,801 of the total workforce are men and 672 are female. The average length of service is between two to five years, although 14.6% of employees have a tenure of over 10 years.

Business objectives

  • To be the parcel carrier of choice for every end consumer in the UK.
  • To better manage organisational data.
  • To future-proof the business by investing between £25 million and £30 million into a three-year IT transformation programme.
  • To empower and reward staff in order to drive good business outcomes.
  • To invest in innovation in products and new markets.
  • To continue to invest in the organisation’s courier network, systems, and peak capacity capabilities.

Jill-MaplesCareer history

Jill Maples, HR director, joined Hermes in February 2016. In this role, she oversees learning and development, reward structures and benefits, payroll, and overall HR activity.

During her career, Maples has held a number of generalist HR positions that have allowed her to deliver on a wide remit of projects. This includes her time at supermarket retailer Morrisons, where she was promoted from senior HR business partner to HR director, central functions, and her roles at Telefonica O2 UK, where she worked as HR business partner before being promoted to senior HR business partner. She has also worked for First Direct as HR manager.

One of Maples’ proudest work achievements to date is related to a two-pronged redundancy project that she spearheaded during her time at Morrisons. This involved managing the redundancy risk for 1,300 staff in a sensitive and respectful fashion, and following this up by redesigning the entire reward framework across the organisation. The reward redesign, which covered 125,000 employees, was completed in three months.

She says: “The reason I was proud of it was because even though it was on such a huge scale, we treated everybody the way that I would want to be treated; with absolute respect and dignity, making sure that they went through a relevant process and they had time for the consultation meetings.”

Benefits: 

Pension

  • Occupational stakeholder pension with employer matching contributions up to 5%.

Pay

  • Annual bonus for senior managers.

Group risk

  • Group income protection for all employees after completing a 26-week probation period. Once organisational sick pay is exhausted, the income protection provides employees with 50% of salary for two years.
  • Life assurance for all employees up to two-times salary. Further upgrades can be purchased via flexible benefits plan.

Health and wellbeing

  • Private medical insurance (PMI), employer-paid for senior managers. Non-eligible employees can purchase (PMI) via flexible benefits, and upgrades to the coverage for eligible employees can also be bought via flex.
  • Dental insurance available as employee-paid flexible benefit.
  • Eye tests

Travel

  • Company car or car allowance, offered on a role-specific basis for senior managers.
  • Free on-site parking.

Motivation and recognition

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Family-friendly benefits

Other

  • Holiday entitlement of 26 days a year.
  • Holiday purchase and sell of up to five days, offered as a flexible benefit.
  • Training and development opportunities.
  • Local discounts, for example on cinema tickets, dry cleaning, and gym membership.
  • Voluntary benefits scheme.
  • Subsidised canteen.
  • Refer-a-friend incentive.
  • Membership to professional bodies.