Podcast: Wave designs a benefits proposition in response to employee need

Listen: A fairly young organisation, national water supplier Wave, has always ensured that employee wellbeing is weaved into the fabric of the business.

Since its launch in 2017, the organisation has ensured that its benefits proposition offers staff a range of wellbeing support for any circumstance. In this episode of the Employee Benefits podcast, director of HR, Jane Austin, explains how Wave regularly surveys staff and listens to feedback to find out just how the organisation can help. In particular, during the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown, and subsequent economic crisis, Wave focused on responding to employee need to identify key areas of help. This included the introduction of a financial education programme which saw huge success in terms of employee take up.Providing parenting support is another key focus for the organisation and Wave has introduced a number of benefits to support its working carers.

At a glance

Wave is a national water retailer with 323 members of staff. Some of its typical job roles include customer service staff, sales, finance, and HR positions. The average age of employee is 40 and the average length of service stands at 3.8 years.

Primary business objectives that impact benefits for the coming year:

Wave’s business strategy helps to shape the benefits it offers its employees:

  • It implemented an objective at the start of this financial year to embed and deliver its social and sustainability promise and introduced one paid volunteering day to all staff.
  • One of its core commitments is to the health, safety, security and wellbeing of its people, which shapes its wellbeing benefits and the approach it takes to pay and pensions.
  • It has signed up to the real Living Wage Foundation to support its people and help ensure they can afford the cost of living.

Career history

Jane Austin, director of HR, was part of the team that, in 2016, set up the company, NWG Business. This went live in April 2017 when the water industry de-regulated and the new retail market opened. Austin then led that firm through a joint venture to form Wave, later in 2017.

Previously, Austin worked as a change manager and an HR business partner in Northumbrian Water Group, was assistant personnel director for Coventry University, and HR manager for Remploy Automotive. She has also held generalist HR roles in the car industry for Rover, Land Rover and BMW, as well as internal communications manager for BMW in the UK.

Austin’s accomplishments extend beyond her work in reward and HR: “I have always given something back to the community, so act as an education enterprise advisor to the North-East local entreprise partnership (LEP), am a trustee to a North-East charity, M10, and am a mentor both internally and outside of Wave.”