Anglian Water taps into own resources for staff benefits

Anglian Water

Anglian Water prides itself on its inclusive culture when it comes to employee engagement and retention, which is why the water supply organisation offers a range of benefits to as many staff as possible. One of its key challenges is offering a benefits package that is both cost-effective and competitive to attract and retain the best workforce possible. Sally Purbrick, head of reward at Anglian Water, says: “As much as possible, we try to include all our employees so no one misses out on benefits or opportunities.

“Money and budgeting is always a challenge for us. So for every pound we spend, employees need to get the maximum value from it without a large cost,” she adds.

Closing the gap

As the water-supply industry is traditionally male-dominated, Anglian Water works to set itself apart and support female talent by hiring more female staff and offering unusual and competitive employee benefits. This has helped it to narrow its ratio of male-to-female staff, which has evolved from 69% male and 31% female, to 65% male and 35% in 2015. Purbrick says: “We put lots of time and effort into our changing demographic but there’s a lot of traditional history of us being in a male-dominated sector. Our mixed staff demographic gives us a good blend of ideas and views.”

Employee wellbeing

The organisation launched a health and wellbeing campaign, Get Active, in June 2014 to educate employees about what they can do if they or a loved one is suffering from mental health issues, as well as what steps to take if they notice significant change in someone’s behaviour or mental wellbeing.

The campaign included a video on Anglian Water’s intranet site, which contained insights from medical professionals and the organisation’s healthcare provider, and some of its employees shared their personal experiences.

The organisation has also taken the Time to Change pledge, committing to help end mental health discrimination in the workplace.

Employer-related benefits

Anglian Water offers all of its 4,000 employees the opportunity to pay its water bills in a salary sacrifice arrangement, which gives staff an annual saving of 23% on their water bills. It is this standard of benefit that allows Anglian Water to motivate and, just as importantly, retain its employees; the organisation has an average length of service 11 years. “We offer a bigger benefits package than some other employers to be more competitive; it’s about the entire package rather than just a single benefit,” says Purbrick.

Rewarding staff

The organisation runs an employee recognition that enables managers to reward staff for reflecting the organisation’s values by awarding them with a scratch card. The scratch cards hold a value of between £10 and £50, which can be redeemed as high-street shopping vouchers. “This campaign is all about the quick and instant aspect of rewarding staff,” adds Purbrick.

The organisation also hosts an annual employee recognition celebration; its We Love What You Do awards. Around 300 members of staff are invited to the event, which showcases the organisation’s culture of fairness and its ethos of avoiding ‘saying one thing and doing another’.

In line with its policy of employee inclusion, any employee can nominate a colleague for reflecting the organisation’s values. All nominations are shortlisted by a panel of senior managers and all those shortlisted are invited to the annual event.

Because sustainability is an important pillar of the employer’s values, an eco-friendly venue is chosen for the event and the awards that the winners receive are made of wood.

In conjunction with its commitment to sustainability, Anglian Water launched its Love Every Drop campaign in 2010, through which the organisation aims to create value for the long term and manage the business in a sustainable manner.

The campaign aims to put water at the heart of the organisation, as well as its employees’ and customers’ lives. It comprises 12 business goals, which include: being an employer of choice, no pollution, 100% customer satisfaction with its service, zero waste, and making a positive difference to the communities Anglian Water serves. Victoria Jones, reward manager at Anglian Water, says: “Our Love Every Drop campaign reflects our values, which are innovation, collaboration and transformation, to our employees.”

In November 2011, Anglian Water started implementing a flexible approach to total reward statements by rolling out the statements online rather than distributing hard copies. This was conducted through its Love Every Drop campaign, and aimed to encourage staff to lead more sustainable lives.

Communication is a key component of the way Anglian Water connects with its employees. “Staff communication is about a balance and it’s really easy to over-communicate,” says Jones.

It publishes a monthly newspaper, Anglian Water News, which it uses as one of its key methods of communicating with its workforce, particularly as it is delivered to their home addresses.

Despite its already strong staff engagement with benefits, Anglian Water is keen to continue to create an evolving reward package that motivates and retains talented employees, and to further encourage women into the water-supply sector.

At a glance

The organisation was founded in 1973 and provides drinking water to areas in Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Norfolk.

Its sister groups include Anglian Water Property Holdings (UK) Ltd and Osprey Water Services Ltd.

It was formed by the Water Act as one of 10 regional water authorities that took over statutory and local authority-owned water supply and waste water undertakings, and was privatised as Anglian Water Services Limited in 1989.

Career histories

sally_purbic_145Sally Purbrick, head of reward, Anglian Water

Sally Purbrick has been head of reward at Anglian Water since 2007, after holding roles such as HR project manager, head of business performance and various management accounting roles within the organisation between 1999 and 2006.

Her main responsibilities as head of reward include developing the organisation’s total reward strategy, encompassing employee recognition, HR administration, payroll and bonuses.

Victoria Jones-Anglian WaterVictoria Jones, reward manager, Anglian Water

Victoria Jones joined Anglian Water in 2011 as reward manager after working for Travis Perkins from 2008 to 2011 as group reward manager. Jones also previously held the role of compensation and benefits manager at Bespak, as well as HR analyst and compensation and benefits manager at O2.

Business objectives 

  • To continue to even out its ratio of male-to-female staff.
  • To offer a competitive, cost-effective employee benefits package to its workforce.



  • Trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension scheme available for all new staff with a salary sacrifice option available.
  • Minimum employee contribution set at 5% with a matching employer contribution of 8%.
  • Defined benefit (DB) scheme closed to new joiners.

Health and wellbeing

  • Private medical insurance (PMI) available for all employees completely employer-funded.
  • Eyecare policy available for all workers, through which staff can access e-vouchers.
  • Employee counselling and employee assistance programme (EAP).
  • Get Active campaign through which Anglian Water financially contributes to selected events for employees.
  • Gym membership discount.

Financial education

  • Financial management scheme available to all employees.
  • Masterclasses to all staff on debt management and saving.

Group risk

  • Income protection scheme offered to all employees (employer-paid through pension scheme).
  • Critical illness insurance (employer-paid as part of pension scheme).
  • Personal accident insurance offered to all employees and part employer-funded.

Staff travel

  • Company car scheme blended with car cash allowance option (employer-funded).

Family-friendly benefits

  • Shared parental leave.
  • Childcare vouchers via salary sacrifice.
  • Flexible working options.


  • 23 days in addition to national public holidays, which increases with length of service.

Work/life balance

  • Career breaks and sabbatical leave available dependent on minimum length of service.


  • Sports clubs.
  • Hardship loans (maximum loan of £5,000).
  • Salary sacrifice arrangement for paying water bills.
  • Staff discounts.
  • Voluntary benefits scheme.