Severn Trent values in-person celebrations during the festive period

Severn Trent is one of the biggest water firms in the UK and provides more than eight million people with clean drinking water every day. Its head office is in Coventry and it has 7,000 employees across the East and West Midlands, stretching into Wales. Around 60% of staff are key workers.

Neil Morrison, group HR director at Severn Trent plc, says they prefer getting teams together over a meal to celebrate Christmas rather than providing gifts.

“It means that no matter where you work across the organisation you get to spend time with your colleagues,” he says. “It’s organised by the regional teams who often work different shifts and hours.”

Last year, they were unable to arrange anything due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic so they donated the equivalent amount to organisations which support the homeless.

“This year, restrictions allowing, we’ll be looking to give people the chance to come together once more and celebrate; something that they deserve after all the hard work they’ve put in. Some managers will personally arrange other gifts for their teams, but that’s down to their discretion,” Morrison says.

Although there has been something of a trend in virtual events over the past two years, this hasn’t been something they have cultivated as an organisation where more than half of employees are key workers.

“In terms of gifts, I think we’ve seen a shift over time from the bottle of wine or fizz to recognising more diversity in teams and people not drinking for lifestyle or religious reasons. I could see that continuing following Coronavirus and see a greater focus on wellness. Maybe this is the year of the scented candle? I’m not sure how that would go down on the frontline though,” Morrison says.