When Ovo Energy took over SSE Energy Services in 2020, it needed to harmonise benefits across the two organsiations. Employees would receive a flex pay arrangement, worth an additional 9% of salary. This would incorporate an employer pension contribution of 4%, and an extra 5% which could be used to purchase other benefits.
Central to the benefits overhaul would be Ovo’s Plan Zero concept, which aims to reduce the organisation’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2035. Julia Diggs, director, people experience, at Ovo Energy, explains: “We wanted to create something that felt more aligned to our purpose, and a green angle to all benefits.”
The starting point was the pension plan. Working with the sustainability team, Ovo spoke to its pension provider and created a default fund that had a strong green element in terms of how money was invested, says Diggs. It also signed up to the Green Pensions Charter, which helps challenge pension providers around their wider sustainability credentials.
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In the flexible benefits space, the business introduced carbon offsetting, where employees could offset emissions they have incurred from travelling or other activities, as well as both a bikes-for-work and electric vehicle (EV) salary sacrifice arrangement.
“We also worked with our internal teams to create some Ovo offers that would bring people closer to our purpose,” adds Diggs. This has seen discounts offered on smart meters, EV chargers and energy bills, as well as on a new solar panel scheme. Staff can also access refurbished technology through a dedicated scheme and take part in volunteering days to help causes such as the Wildlife Trust.
The scheme was launched in October 2021, with booklets and factsheets sent out to employees to explain the new arrangements, and the vast majority chose to sign up to the new contract. It has also been helpful when recruiting. “We find that people are attracted to Ovo because of Plan Zero and they also like the alignment of the benefits to our purpose,” says Diggs. “We also get good feedback when people join.”