Leonardo uses flexible benefits scheme to help support employees through pandemic

Attracting and retaining skills is vital for manufacturing and engineering firms, but becoming increasingly difficult. To help address this challenge, aerospace business Leonardo introduced a flexible benefits scheme for its 7,000-plus employees. The scheme, which includes a £500 flex allowance, went live in November 2019, just a few months before the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic struck.

Andrew Letton, vice president people, shared services, says: “Launching in the run up to Christmas meant that people could use their allowance to buy a lot of tech goods and other gifts, so the scheme was hugely popular. One downside was the impact of Covid-19 on the option to buy extra holidays. As the pandemic took hold, people couldn’t use them and struggled to fit them in during the year, so we temporarily suspended that for the second year of the scheme.”

However with 75% of Leonardo’s staff working from home, many used their flex allowance to buy office furnishings and equipment, which had also been discounted, to make themselves comfortable in their new home working space.

With a focus on wellbeing, the employer introduced a new employee assistance programme (EAP) and a mental wellbeing app, Thrive. It also added an all-employee private medical insurance plan through Bupa, which sits alongside their executive plan and can be accessed through the flex benefits platform.

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“We have a diverse workforce, ranging from graduates to people with 40 years’ service,” says Letton. “We have to ensure we are offering something for everyone, and at a time of change, disruption and uncertainty, flexible benefits have come into their own.”

Looking ahead, he says they are speaking to benefits providers about the possibility of adding a salary sacrifice car arrangement for electric vehicles to the flex scheme, as people are likely to be travelling less often to work. He adds: “People want more choice and flexibility, and we will keep evolving the scheme in line with that.”