Ovo Energy is a growing energy supply organisation based in Bristol. It launched a flexible benefits proposition with Thomsons in 2014, through which it provides employees with 4% of their salary for investment. In October 2017, it added a new dimension in the form of a workplace individual savings account (Isa).
Joanna Fairweather, reward manager at Ovo, explains: “The thing we were hearing increasingly was that people were looking for broader ways to plan and save for the future. Our workforce has quite a unique demographic, in that its average age is 28 and just over 80% of the workforce are under 35. We were hearing concerns from employees about getting on the housing ladder and they were asking how we could actively help them to do that.”
While pensions had high engagement within the organisation, it became clear through focus groups that there was demand for a shorter-term product to help employees with milestones and life goals.
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In collaboration with Thomsons and financial services organisation Smarterly, a workplace Isa was designed to give employees the option to invest their 4% benefits allowance. This is available to all employees once they pass their probation period, meaning that 1,400 are currently eligible.
“We launched it with a series of communications, both digital and face-to-face,” explains Fairweather. “We’ve continued the awareness campaign throughout the year and held a benefits fair to coincide with the first anniversary of the launch, where people could meet experts and have their questions answered.”
Also coinciding with the launch anniversary, an incentive campaign allowed employees using the flex fund to enter a prize draw where they could win an additional contribution towards their Isa. “That went down really well and raised the flex fund usage from 80% to 90%,” says Fairweather.
Around 10% of eligible employees have signed up for the workplace Isa so far. “Compared against the other benefits, that puts it in the top three, after holiday buys and pension top-up, and it continues to grow in popularity,” Fairweather concludes.