East Coast Mainline revamps voluntary perks

EXCLUSIVE: East Coast Mainline has added a bikes-for-work scheme to its online voluntary benefits scheme, run health and wellbeing roadshows, and extended its recognition scheme.

The bike scheme, which was introduced in May and is provided by Halfords, had 40 employees take it up within its first month.

The health and wellbeing roadshows, which were held during the first week of June across 12 sites, incorporated the bikes-for-work scheme, as well as mini health checks, a bicycle-powered smoothie blender, and presentations by health management organisations.

John Hayhurst, head of HR at East Coast Main Line Company, said: “We are spread north of Scotland all the way down to London, so we picked the key hubs where people are located.

“Obviously a lot of our staff are on trains. They were able to attend at the station where they are turning around or at their home station.”

On-the-spot recognition

The train operator has also extended its on-the-spot employee recognition programme. The scheme, which was introduced 18 months ago, allows managers to credit £25 or more to employees’ discount cards, which can be spent at certain retailers.

Hayhurst added: “We have increased the usage of that following the last [annual employee] survey. More managers have received voucher chequebooks and we have increased the budget they can spend over the year. We saw the improvements in the survey, we thought ‘we’re doing things right, let’s keep going’.”

East Coast Mainline, which has 3,000 employees, launched a new voluntary benefits scheme at the end of 2012 to brand all its benefits under the banner Shine.

New brand to improve engagement

“We run an annual employee survey and one of the things that came up was that engagement and feeling valued was low,” said Hayhurst. “We wanted to change that.

“We came up with the idea to brand everything together. There were a lot of benefits out there but it wasn’t sold particularly well. It was almost word of mouth. It was the right time to do that.”

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The launch of its new voluntary benefits scheme also included a move to a new provider, Salary Exchange.

Hayhurst added: “It was partly because our franchise was up for renewal, and we needed a time period between seven and 10 years. We weren’t able to do a renewal for a significant period of time and the company we were using wasn’t willing to extend its benefits team for a short period of time.”