VHR keeps benefits relevant in a time of rapid growth

Technical recruitment business VHR has grown rapidly over the past three years, and now employs 80 people. This means that the business must consider the benefits it provides to employees more carefully, says Emma Gaywood, HR adviser.

VHR now surveys all staff twice a year, asking them to rate benefits in order of importance. “We wanted to make sure staff were interested in the company and motivated, and we realised that there are benefits that certain types of employee would prefer compared to others,” Gaywood says.

“We ask which benefits they’re currently using and which ones they know about which they’re not using.”

The surveys have produced some unexpected results. “We thought people would want pool tables and really extravagant things, but actually they’re really pleased with the basics, such as a good office environment, coffee-making facilities and our social activities,” Gaywood says.

The surveys have also highlighted areas in which the business could improve how it promotes benefits. “We realised that with benefits such as private medical insurance or a cycle-to-work scheme, we need to constantly promote them, rather than just doing it once or twice a year,” says Gaywood.

As well as the employee surveys, VHR has an anonymous suggestion box to generate ideas in order to improve wellbeing or the working environment.

Recent ideas have included offering fresh fruit, holding a charity bake-off and running knowledge-sharing lunches.

“They might not all be things we can offer, but we try to find some kind of middle ground,” adds Gaywood. “We review them every two weeks and once a month we take them to [leadership].”

Gaywood believes listening to staff helps the business retain people.

Indeed, the firm’s turnover is 25%, against an industry average of 43%, and one in four employees has been with the business for more than five years.