Merseyrail drives business engagement through voluntary benefits

Merseyrail, part of the Abellio Group, uses its voluntary benefits scheme as part of a multi-channel approach to recruiting, retaining and engaging the best talent for its business.


The train operating company introduced its staff discount scheme, ‘Benefits for you’, five years ago with Personal Group. While employees have access to offers including cinema vouchers, holiday discounts and reloadable cards, the organisation uses the scheme as a way of driving employee engagement and increasing discretionary effort.

Andy Parry, head of engagement and reward at Merseyrail, says: “The only asset we have is our employees so we’re very people focused. If we want to reward our employees and make them feel wanted, then we try and give them the best offer we can, be it salary, benefits and everything else that comes with that, to make them feel that the business values them. The ‘Benefits for you’ scheme is an additional piece that helps us towards that goal.”

The voluntary benefits scheme sits within the organisation’s total reward package, which includes free rail travel for employees, discounted rail travel nationally and internationally, a final salary pension scheme and a bikes-for-work scheme.

Merseyrail receives monthly reports from Personal Group that highlight how many employees have signed up to the scheme and accessed their benefits. It has seen more than 90% of employees register for the scheme since its launch. While the benefits are an important talent management tool for the organisation, Merseyrail is aware that it also has to be beneficial to the business. Parry says: “Although we do it solely for the benefit of our employees, the first thing we check is are our employees achieving savings that justify the costs of running the scheme, and we absolutely outstrip that.”

Merseyrail credits its total reward package as playing a vital role in its employee engagement and retention success: its turnover stands at 10%, while in its most recent engagement survey in 2014, scores increased by 10% to 76%.

“When we measure the success of whether our benefits schemes have worked or not, we do that through employee engagement because that’s the sole reason we’re doing this,” says Parry.