Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective benefits strategy for organisations with more than 1,000 staff


Kwik Fit Financial Services Flex
As a call-centre organisation with a high number of young, low-paid employees, this insurance intermediary looked to its benefits strategy to help overcome a number of wider business issues. The launch of its flexible benefits package coincided with the introduction of a number of facilities to the business. The intention was to provide a combined package of benefits and facilities that would positively impact on issues such as staff retention, employee satisfaction, reduced absence, the promotion of healthy living and attracting the best staff to the organisation.

It is unusual to find such extensive on-site facilities in any organisation, let alone a call-centre environment. They include an on-site nursery, a full-time staff concierge service, a fully equipped gym and full-time personal trainer, a full-time occupational nurse and a state-of-the-art bistro offering a subsidised menu featuring local produce. In 2009, the company also invested a six-figure sum in creating a chill-out zone for staff, which includes three plasma TVs linked to various games consoles, a coffee and smoothie bar, internet access and two US-style pool tables.

The firm’s flexible benefits scheme includes a wide range of perks, such as dental insurance, private medical insurance, retail vouchers, holiday trading and bikes for work. To help staff with their annual benefits selections, the company holds workshops, run by independent tax advisers, which staff are given time to attend during the working day. These are provided free of charge to staff – fairly unusual in most industry sectors.

Since the strategy was introduced, absence levels have reduced year on year from 6.8% in 2005 to 3.5% in 2009, and staff turnover has fallen from 40% in 2004 to 22% in 2009. Recruitment costs have also dropped, with more direct applications as a result of word of mouth. Overall, take-up rates for the annual flexible benefits election remain consistently high, reaching 97% in December 2009.

Highly commended
The judges felt this was a strong entry because of the significant changes the law firm made to its benefits, such as auto-enrolment to the group personal pension. It was able to fund a number of wellbeing initiatives from savings made by curtailing risk, liability and legacy benefits arrangements. It saved about £400,000 by removing its death-in-service provision, which was used to fund perks such as bikes for work.

Runners up
Bank of America Associate benefits choices (entered by Benefex)
The main driver behind this benefits strategy was the harmonisation of the bank’s package and legacy Merrill Lynch benefits packages after the two organisations merged in 2008.

Centrica Flexible benefits spending account (flexSA)
The energy firm’s flex scheme is part of a wider total reward strategy. Eligible staff get a benefits allowance – equal to about 3% of salary – on top of base pay to enable them to purchase benefits.

3 UK Just rewards (entered by Bluefin)
This company worked to create a completely integrated reward proposition. A number of objectives sat behind the project, including its desire to expand and improve its flex package, and align its brand with reward communication.

Kent County Council Kent rewards
This comprehensive approach to total reward impressed the judges. As a result of its strategy, staff turnover and absence levels have fallen, while engagement and take-up have risen.

Subsea 7 Flexible benefits scheme (entered by Bluefin)
The oil and gas firm used flex to support the move to a new head office campus from three sites. It added tax-efficient bus travel, a bikes-for-work scheme, car salary sacrifice and a cashless canteen perk.

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