Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Communications strategy of the year for employers with more than 5,000 staff


Whitbread Going for gold

Whitbread’s entry was a strong example of a communications campaign that supported an incentive scheme designed to engage staff in the organisation’s core business activities during tough economic times. Its ‘Going for gold’ scheme was introduced to encourage staff to maximise sales for the company, to provide sales training to help achieve this, and to centralise reward and recognition within the organisation.

The judges felt the campaign used “some excellent examples of engaging, eye-catching material”, including several innovative methods of communication. When the scheme was launched at the company’s annual conference for 2,500 staff, for example, a brand new Mini was given away to an employee deemed to have already demonstrated the values and behaviours the scheme aimed to embed across the organisation. This was followed up by the presentation of a second Mini in a secretly filmed ‘Gotcha’, a DVD of which was sent to all sites and posted on YouTube.

To ensure it reached all sections of its widely-dispersed workforce, Whitbread employed a wide range of other communication methods. These included face-to-face presentations, online league tables to encourage healthy competition between sites, regular branded email updates, a monthly newsletter, recognition postcards for staff, branded certificates for winning sites, branded monthly point-of-sale packs containing items such as posters, pens and payroll stickers to keep the initiative at the front of employees’ minds, and a large branded advent calendar with a team sales challenge behind each door in the run-up to Christmas. “A good strategy that ensured all bases and media were covered in the communications and that the business benefits were targeted and defined in advance,” said one judge.

Despite the significant challenges thrown at Whitbread by the recession, it recorded year-on-year growth in a number of its business areas.

Runners up
BT Retirement saving scheme (entered by Shilling Communication)

When devising a communications strategy to support the closure of two DC pension plans and the introduction of a group self-invested personal pension, BT segmented its workforce to identify the most appropriate channels. The strategy included online materials, workplace roadshows, one-to-one meetings and paper-based booklets.

E.On My choice (entered by Benefex)
A ‘young and fun’ tone was central to E.On’s communications around its revamped voluntary benefits plan in order to engage younger staff, but it also had to be sure older staff engaged and so used multiple media to appeal to all workers. More unusual methods included chocolate coins to demonstrate the concept of cashback to staff.

Ladbrokes ClubLadbrokes (entered by Asperity Employee Benefits)
The nature of Ladbrokes’ workforce meant traditional methods, such as email and posters, were not suitable means of communication. To boost engagement with its voluntary benefits, it used scratchcards sent to employees’ homes and messages received via the company’s till system, alongside other media. As a result, engagement increased by 111%.

Santander UK
The bank used a segmented campaign focused on three distinct employee populations to communicate complex changes to its pension plans, and the importance of pensions to staff that had not joined a scheme. An interesting strand was the use of a blog that enabled staff to discuss the pros and cons of the schemes.

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Telefonica O2 UK O2 rewards
The telecommunications company uses multiple channels to reach as many employees as possible and drive them to its online total reward portal. Last year it was one of the first companies to introduce Clyk video technology, and also created an interactive ‘benefits mixer’.

See full list of winners and finalists for the Employee Benefits Awards 2010