Interview with Jane Earnshaw, head of reward and recognition, Asda

Jane Earnshaw, head of reward and recognition at Asda, wants to ensure all the retailer’s employees are engaged with the business, and a festive thank-you package for staff is helping her spread some goodwill

Jane Earnshaw has had a varied career at Asda, during her 20-year tenure. She joined the grocery retailer in 1995 as a company secretarial assistant and has since risen through the ranks to become head of reward and recognition.

Earnshaw made the transition into reward after being introduced to share schemes in her first role. “It’s quite a strange route, I suppose,” she says. “Part of my remit was the design and communication of share plans, as well as my company secretary duties.”

When Asda became a subsidiary of US retail giant Walmart in 1999, there was an opportunity to restructure job roles, which resulted in Asda’s share plan team reporting into the HR function and Earnshaw moving into HR.

She gradually took on more responsibility in the reward arena, initially becoming reward manager – pay and bonus, which was her first move away from share schemes, and then moving into benefits in 2005.  “Later, I started looking after expatriates,” she says. “The expat population, as part of Walmart, is a big development area for us.”

Earnshaw was appointed acting head of reward in 2010, and head of reward and recognition in May 2012. In her new role, she manages a team of 18.

Bigger team

“I now have recognition as part of my remit, as well as share schemes, fleet and our in-house payroll team,” she says. “Now that I have a bigger team, I have seen my team gel. We all work very hard, but having a lot of fun while we work is really important.”

Earnshaw attributes her ability to develop Asda’s reward plans to her good grounding in corporate governance and structure. “I now have a lot of dealings with Walmart directly on corporate governance, so it has come full circle for me in some ways,” she says.

Earnshaw’s future challenges include ensuring that employees are engaged in the business. “Doing that with 177,000 people is quite a challenge,” she says.

“Making sure we are continually refreshing our voluntary benefits package, making it accessible and negotiating really good deals for our [staff] is important. In the retail environment, we all pay similar amounts, so it is also important to get that differential thing around the edges, keeping reward fresh and engaging our employees.”

Earnshaw says her new recognition remit makes her much more aware of the differentiating elements of a reward package. She adds: “Simple thank-yous to our employees are really valuable, and they really value those moments, so making sure we give our management teams the right tools to recognise employees is something I see as our big challenge in the next 12 months.”

Next year will also see Earnshaw take on the role of one of the judges for the Employee Benefits Awards 2013. Asda’s sharesave scheme was awarded the title ‘Most effective all-employee share scheme strategy’ at the Employee Benefits Awards 2012.



May 2012-present head of reward and recognition, Asda

2011-2012 acting head of reward, Asda

2006-2011 reward manager – pay, bonus and benefi ts, Asda

2004-2006 reward manager – pay and bonus, Asda

1999-2004 share plan manager, Asda

1995-1999 company secretarial assistant, Asda



How would you describe yourself?

I have always been very studious at making sure I know my subject.  Beyond what I do at Asda, reading up on reward and benefits, making sure I absolutely know what is going on in the market, has served me well over the years.

What is your favourite benefit?

Our festive thank-you. It is a package of things for our employees to say thank-you during the busy Christmas time. Staff get a £20 gift voucher, contributions to their Christmas party and a free Christmas lunch.

We package it all up in a card, into which their line manager puts a personal message. It provides a really strong feelgood factor for our employees.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love going to live music events, and my two teenage daughters have also inherited that interest. I’m a very big Liverpool Football Club fan, so going to see Liverpool is a great release for me, even though we are not doing particularly well at the moment. I also enjoy spending time with friends and entertaining and cooking for people, which my husband and I both enjoy.