ZPG takes a holistic and inclusive approach to its benefits strategy


ZPG brings a holistic and inclusive element to its employee benefits strategy, and strongly believes that one size does not fit all.

When it overhauled its strategy in 2017, ZPG felt that it needed to make some changes. The property information provider decided that taking a holistic viewpoint, while focusing on attracting, recruiting and retaining employees, was the best way to maintain an engaged and motivated workforce.

Natalie Pender, head of employee engagement at ZPG, says: “ZPG wants its employees to feel that their benefits package is tailored to their individual needs and not just an off-the-shelf offering. We appreciate mental, physical and financial wellbeing are important, but we also feel that making sure our benefits package takes our employees into account as individuals is important, too. What we are trying to do is offer something that suits everyone, regardless of their location, age or background.”

Its new strategy may well be one of the reasons ZPG has gained recognition as one of the coolest organisations to work for, according to Glassdoor’s employer research in 2017.

Giving a helping hand

One of the organisation’s key objectives is to cater to its employees’ financial interests. It implemented an interest-free payroll loan which allows staff to borrow up to £5,000, giving them the flexibility to use it for big milestones, such as buying a house or getting married.

Employees are also given the option to receive £100 towards their own personal development or wellbeing, which has been used for anything ranging from art courses to taxidermy, or for more traditional spa days and massages. “As long as employees use it for development or wellbeing, they have full reign over what they choose,” explains Pender. “Employees really value these types of benefits.”

Creating a tranquil working environment

As well as looking after the financial wellbeing of its employees, ZPG wants to make them feel like the office is a home from home, creating a warm and inviting environment. Meeting rooms at the head office in Shad Thames, and the newly opened second building next door in Eagle Wharf, are all named after rooms in the home.

The library lives up to its name, since staff can work there quietly, while the games room allows employees to let off steam during breaks through the provision of a snooker table, dartboard and retro games. In 2017, ZPG also refurbished all of its regional offices to include a recreational area with table tennis and other games.

ZPG also gives employees an opportunity to take a step back and spend an hour focusing on something that gives them a different perspective or broadens their knowledge. “We had Graham Alcott host a session on ‘how to be a productivity ninja’,” says Pender. “During mental health awareness week, mental health charity Mind held a session about dealing with stress, and Will Store held a talk about his new book, Selfie.

“It’s always something different, sometimes it’s suggestions from employees, sometimes it’s a topical subject. We’re getting really good feedback on [these sessions] and if [employees] miss them, they are also available to watch afterwards,” adds Pender.

Physical health is high on ZPG’s agenda too, and in its London and Cirencester offices, employees can take advantage of its fully-equipped gyms, complete with fresh towels, toiletries and hair straighteners. There are also on-site yoga and Pilates classes to keep employees active.

As well as 25 days of annual leave, employees can take a day off on their birthday, while those moving home get a day off and a John Lewis voucher.

Communication is key

To showcase all of its new benefits at the end of 2017, ZPG rebranded its communications strategy and enlisted Reward Gateway to help create a site to house all of its benefits, which it launched as My Rewards.

“It’s a one-stop shop for anything to do with benefits and perks,” explains Pender. “In terms of regular promotions, we have posters and TV screens dotted around which feature our benefits and remind our employees of what’s on offer.”

ZPG also has a monthly company update where employees can ask questions, as well as fortnightly “Ask HR” sessions. Pender says: “The sessions are not just for us to share information, it’s giving employees the opportunity to ask questions, share feedback and always talk about how the benefits are.

“There’s lots of ways to continue the conversation. The HR team who implement the benefits are well known around the organisation, and employees tend to drop us an email or chat to us at our desk, it’s quite laid back in that respect. There is always an opportunity for employees to get their point of view across.”

The rewards team is continuously finding ways to shout about its benefits, from simple steps such as writing a feature on a particular benefit, to an all-singing and dancing wellness week. “We do one-to-ones where we get an expert into the office, as well as learning lunches to try and encourage people to learn more and take up certain benefits if they haven’t already,” explains Pender.

ZPG’s success can be judged not only through the feedback received via its open communications, but also when looking at direct referrals and retention.”We’ve seen an increase in our direct hires,” Pender notes. “People who are being referred by employees that already work here, which is what we want, we want our employees to be advocates and say how great it is to work here.”

ZPG at a glance

When it launched in 2008, ZPG consisted of two organisations, the property portals Zoopla and Prime Location. It has since acquired several organisations, including uSwitch in 2016, Property Software Group and Technicweb in 2017, and most recently, in 2018, Hometrack and the Netherlands-based organisation, Calcasa.

The majority of the roles within ZPG are based around developing and maintaining its portal or building websites for its partners. Typical job roles include QX, UI and design developers, as well as a number of sales positions. Around 1,000 employees work in the UK offices, with 500 or so based in ZPG’s London head office.

In London, the average age of employees is late 20s to early 30s; however, further afield the average age is 45 to 50. Employees have an average tenure of just over three years, with an equal gender split of male and female employees.

Business objectives

  • To be the most useful resource at a point in the property buying journey for people.
  • To continue to equip customers with the tools to make the best decisions.
  • To continue to take a holistic approach to benefits and be an inclusive organisation.

Career history

Natalie Pender joined ZPG in October 2016 as employee engagement manager, a role which quickly evolved into her current position as of head of employee engagement. Prior to this, Pender was engagement manager at AXA Wealth, where she worked for more than eight years.

Pender cites her greatest achievement to date as being one of the first projects she undertook at ZPG. In 2017, Pender project managed the implementation of the current employee engagement tool, taking on the task from conception to launch. The tool consistently receives positive feedback from managers, who find that it is an effective tool for improving engagement in their teams.

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