Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Grand Prix



Whitbread was voted winner of the Grand Prix because of its strong performance in several categories in this year’s awards. The company proved it has more than one string to its bow, winning the awards for ‘Most effective motivation or incentive strategy’, ‘Communications strategy of the year for employers with more than 5,000 staff’, and ‘Most effective travel strategy for business or perk car drivers’.

Despite operating in an industry that, as a whole, was hit by the recession, Whitbread refused to take the easy option on benefits strategies. When looking to reduce running costs for its company car scheme by 25%, it did not simply make cuts, but altered its policies so it could achieve higher-than-expected savings while actually improving the benefits offered to staff.

In a tough economic climate, Whitbread also used its reward strategy to address key business challenges. Its ‘Going for gold’ motivation scheme, for example, was designed to engage employees with the business in order to boost sales across its brands. This feat was made even more difficult by the fact that most staff were relatively young, low paid and feeling the pinch of the recession because of reduced working hours.

At a time when many employers were cutting their reward spend, Whitbread invested £1m in a project to boost staff engagement and motivation. Previously, it had been left to local site managers to reward teams.

Every month, one site within each of Whitbread’s 36 regions with the best sales performance is awarded £1,000 worth of retail vouchers. At the end of each quarter, an further £1,000 is awarded to sites that achieve specific targets relating to business accounts. Extra prizes, such as Ipods and cinema passes, are also given to winning sites during key trading periods to use for special recognition.

Jo Rackham from Whitbread said: “We have had a really busy year. We have put our hearts and souls into it. The whole table was screaming when it was announced that we has won [the grand prix] award. It was really unexpected.

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“We have had some difficult challenges. The recession was difficult for the retail industry. We thought very carefully about where we invested [in reward and benefits].”

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