EXCLUSIVE: Marks and Spencer boosts take-up of voluntary benefits and sharesave schemes

Marks and Spencer has boosted take-up of its voluntary benefits and sharesave schemes by involving staff and going paperless for its communications.

Its voluntary benefits website has attracted over 45,000 hits since the perks were relaunched in September – a 450% increase on this time last year. Take-up of the sharesave schemes, which celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2011, increased by 21% over the year.

To boost the benefits, M&S used a business involvement group of 3,500 UK staff and replaced its benefits booklet with business cards and key fobs.

The retailer re-launched its voluntary benefits scheme, M&S Extras, which has been in place since 2005, after receiving feedback from the business involvement groups.

Angela Young, head of reward at Marks and Spencer, added: “In partnership with them we worked on developing the proposition to drive our employee engagement agenda, but also to make sure that what we were putting into the scheme was aligned with the needs of our employees.”

New additions to the scheme, which is provided by Team Rewards, include access to Apple products and discounts through O2 on mobile phones and tariffs.

M&S also celebrated the 30th anniversary of its sharesave scheme in 2011. Once again, it worked with its business involvement groups to cascade communications down to staff and drive up engagement.

The share scheme promotions also moved away from paper-based communications. For every application made online or via SMS text, the retailer donated money to its charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, raising £1,000.

Deborah Warman, head of employee relations and reward at M&S, said: “In the economic climate, we saw a fantastic result again this year, and our participation was up 21% on the previous year.

“The average savings increased by 48%, about £80 per employee.”

Read more about voluntary benefits schemes