Employee Benefits Awards 2009: Most effective benefits strategy for organisations with more than 1,000 employees (Sponsored by Projectlink Motivation)

Malmaison & Hotel du Vin Hotels Mal HdV Benefits
(entered by Davidson Asset Management)

This hotel chain faced several employee challenges, which it solved through a carefully thought-out long-term strategy.

First, there was the merging of two very different hotel chains without diluting the values and brand of each; second, staff turnover in this sector is high; and third, a large proportion of the staff were Polish, so language was important to get right. A benefits programme was rolled out to all staff in 2006, not just management, and a voluntary benefits scheme was launched in 2008. A learning and development programme was developed to retain staff and progress them to management level. The working environment was seen as very important to staff engagement.

Softer benefits included a free foot treatment (many staff are on their feet all day), a night’s stay in the hotel after induction, and trips abroad for external training. All communication was conducted in both English and Polish. The results of this thorough strategy were what won the entrant this prestigious award. It was a long-term strategy that took time to implement, but is now challenging sector norms. Because of the development programme, as many as 68% of management appointments are now internal, and 70% are at no cost to the business, which resulted in a £120,000 saving in recruitment costs.

Overall employee engagement resulted in a staff attrition rate of 25% (the industry average is 50%), saving the chain a further £240,000 in recruitment costs.

Pictured: Catherine Slattery, regional people and development manager at Malmaison & Hotel du Vin Hotels. Slattery said: “We are unique in the hotel industry, which has very high staff turnover. We go against that belief – people want to work for us and stay with us because of what we can offer them.”


  • Goodrich Flextra (entered by Towers Perrin, Caburn Hope and ExcellerateHRO)
    This aerospace manufacturer needed to harmonise a legacy of terms and conditions into a single reward package. It used flexible benefits to support its harmonisation of human resources practice. By integrating its new defined contribution pension into the flexible benefits scheme, staff could clearly see the impact the changes had on their life assurance and income protection benefits. It was able to fund the changes through significant national insurance savings. • Grant Thornton UK Your Benefits, Your Choice Following its merger with Robson Rhodes, this entrant developed a total reward strategy to create a culture of working in partnership. Employee engagement was key to the success of the scheme. As a result, 99% of staff signed up to the flexible benefits scheme, thereby accepting the new terms and conditions.
  • IAG UK YourIAGUK (entered by Benefex)
    This strategy involved harmonising four different companies into one reward brand with the aim of becoming an employer of choice, promoting innovation and engagement. There was a three-phase launch of the total reward statements and voluntary benefits programme that were aimed at making staff feel owners of their employee benefits.
  • Informa InformMyBenefits – Health and Wealth Programme
    This media company, cleverly, focuses on a different aspect of its benefits package each year, constantly building up best practice across the piece. During this entry period, it focused on health and wealth, which has particular relevance during the recession. Careful use of new absence policies drove absence down by 60% in its Maritime and Transport division, and rebroking its health insurances saved it £100,000. • RSA Insurance Your Benefits This insurance firm showed how it cares for staff and acts in their best interests by aligning its benefits to its belief: “Do the right thing”. It put particular emphasis on corporate social responsibility, being carbon neutral, encouraging diversity, and providing choice. A key innovation was the daily updated total reward statement. Its engagement score was of 3.8 out of 5 (high for its sector).