2019 Results


Anglian Water (entered by Neyber), A Multi-Generation Approach to Financial Wellbeing

This award, sponsored by Wealth at Work, recognises an employer with more than 5,000 employees that uses a proactive approach to its workforce’s financial needs and has supported staff in the making of financial, retirement or investment-related benefits decisions.

For Anglian Water it was important to create an environment in which employees are happy and healthy, and this award entry recognises the key role financial wellbeing plays due to its impact on staff mental health. Furthermore, the organisation expressed a need to reach and cater for a wide age range of employees, each facing vastly different financial and life-stage challenges.

The aim of this organisation’s strategy was to embed financial wellness within its annual wellbeing plan, increase employee awareness, particularly around retirement planning, money management and debt consolidation, and provide access to useful digital tools.

To do this, among other initiatives, it introduced a nudge programme, delivering information and goal-setting relevant to each individual’s circumstances. It also brought in a financial wellbeing hub, offering various tools for budgeting and debt management as well as information on specific topics such as buying a house, and introduced flexible pensions, allowing employees to vary their contributions depending on their circumstances on a rolling basis. 

Using personal stories, face-to-face support and public employee pledges, Anglian Water encouraged staff to commit to improving their financial wellbeing, as well as creating a culture of open communication and engagement around a potentially difficult topic. As a result, employee sickness due to financial stress and anxiety reduced by 24% between May 2017 and May 2018.

The judges said: “What we liked about it was that the organisation did employee research and developed a clear plan to increase financial wellbeing; it was a very logical sequence. It built considerable trust with employees to enable those conversations to take place. We liked the pledge wall with personal stories, and the entry showed some good results overall.”

Victoria Sloane, internal communications business partner at Anglian Water, said: “We’ve got quite a diverse approach to our wellbeing strategy, particularly financial wellbeing. We’ve got a hugely diverse organisation so we target our wellbeing strategy to meet our employees’ needs.

“It’s amazing [to win], I can’t tell you how happy we are. It’s great recognition of the work that our team does, the HR and the reward team, but also how passionate we are as [an organisation] about wellbeing.”

Highly Commended

Lendlease, Preference (entered by Benefex)

Runners up

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Launch of Money Wizard (entered by Wealth Wizards)

Centrica, Engaging employees to save for a brighter future (entered by Standard Life)

INEOS (entered by Wealth at work)

Sky, My Sky Rewards - Sky Pension Plan (entered by Capita)

Virgin Active (entered by Salary Finance)

Sponsored by


Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Back-up Care and Work+Family Space (entered by My Family Care)

The award recognises an employer with effective strategies in place to support the work-life balance of employees, for example supporting employees with caring responsibilities.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch understands the importance of reducing unnecessary absence and decreasing stress among its highly skilled workforce, but with headquarters in London being a necessity, financial stress is among the many issues faced by employees. In addition to this, the expense and stress of caring responsibilities, made more acute for those based in the capital, affect at least 35% of its UK workforce.

By tackling and reducing some of the pressures faced by working carers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch aimed to boost engagement and productivity and positively affect attraction and retention.

The organisation introduced a benefits portal, Work+Family Space, which gives staff access to back-up care provisions, guides and resources on work-life balance topics, one-to-one advice services, and resources from the perspective of working fathers, among others.

In addition, Bank of America Merrill Lynch offers its staff enhanced parental leave and pay, maternity coaching, access to a parents and carers network and a flexible working policy. These benefits are communicated via a wide range of media, from roadshows to onboarding flyers, to reach and educate staff as comprehensively as possible.

A particular point of interest in this entry was the organisation’s back-up care provision, which is innovative and highly flexible, not only in the type, location and timing of the care options available to employees, but also in how it is used; for example, an employee might opt to use this provision for themselves if they need support following a hospital discharge. Access is actively encouraged, and all employees have 20 days of back-up childcare and 20 more of back-up adult and elder care per year. In a 2018 survey, 98% of the organisation’s employees agreed that this policy relieved stress and offered piece of mind, and a further 98% said it allowed them to fulfil their work commitments.

The judges said: “This entry was strong on strategy, and it was clear and data specific. It had the innovation to go beyond working families, from children to adult care; it was holistic, covering all life stages. Bank of America Merrill Lynch had some standout solutions like back-up care, as well as a tangible link back to talent acquisition.”

Adam Brooke, vice president, senior benefits consultant, UK and Ireland at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: “We do try and make things accessible to everyone, it’s not just about certain groups, and I think the back-up care support is particularly generous. We really try to help employees with their work-life balance, and it’s just fantastic to be recognised by peers. It really does mean a lot. It’s fantastic because it’s not about the sector that you’re in, it’s across all sectors and actually to be recognised by peers across all [sectors], it means a lot.”

Highly Commended

Pursuit Marketing 

Runners up

Arm, FlexPot (entered by Thomsons Online Benefits)

London Borough of Waltham Forest


Goodman Masson, The Experience

This award recognises an employer that has used benefits within its wider reward strategy to engage employees with the organisation, boosting productivity, satisfaction and retention.

When Goodman Masson rolled out its engagement and retention strategy, The Experience, its ambition was to treat its employees better than any other business.

To measure its success in this regard, the organisation gathers personal testimonials, tracks its performance externally via sites such as Glassdoor, and measures business performance and profitability, recognising the link between engagement and the bottom line.

Goodman Masson’s approach to boosting engagement and satisfaction was to provide benefits that addressed key stages in each employee’s life, helping them face modern-day challenges such as buying a house, repaying student loans, becoming a parent and accessing loans. In addition, employees are able to reduce and offset the costs of exotic holidays, to cover the full gamut of work-life balance and wellbeing.

With 59 people currently enrolled in the organisation’s mortgage fund, 28 individuals taking advantage of home improvement loans in 2018, and 32 exotic holidays booked in the last year alone, employees are evidently making great use of the provisions. In addition, Goodman Masson has shown substantial year-on-year improvement in terms of profit and productivity and cites a staff turnover figure of less than 20%.

The judges said: “The strategy is very clear and the benefits offered genuinely very different, and aimed at helping people at all life stages. They had some really different options and the results were excellent across the board, clearly demonstrating the connection to business performance.”

John Lawson, finance director at Goodman Masson, said: “[Winning feels] amazing. We’ve worked hard to create benefits that are more about giving people what they can achieve immediately, rather than just a salary and bonus scheme. We’ve tried to be a bit more creative about our benefits, [and] in terms of engagement we have a 98% retention rate for our top earners.”

Runner up

Sky, My Sky Rewards - Sky Pension Plan (entered by Capita)


Bethany Ridgewell, Npower

This award, sponsored by Zest Technology, recognises an HR, benefits and reward professional starting out in their career who has already had a positive and impactful effect on their organisation’s approach to benefits and reward.

Npower works within a difficult market, facing restructuring and cost-saving measures that can heavily impact on employee engagement and morale. In the face of this, Npower’s Bethany Ridgewell has focused on cost-effective solutions, the business case for benefits, and effective communications to boost investment returns.

Most notably, Ridgewell has taken a core interest in promoting recognition strategies, moving them from a nice-to-have to a business essential, even in times of organisational stress, and helping the organisation build up to a 53% increase in the number of recognitions given to employees.

Ridgewell has also promoted the use of cost-effective, high-impact communication channels, ensuring employee interest not only in the recognition scheme, but across the full range of Npower’s benefits provisions.

Bethany Ridgewell, reward specialist and benefits lead at Innogy Business Services UK, said: “Making the case for why employee benefits is important in any environment. The energy industry at the moment is going through a really hard time and it’s really hard to keep employee morale high. Part of the work that I’ve been doing is reminding the business that, even though we’re going through difficult times, it’s important to take care of our employees and make them feel valued.

“It’s just a great recognition. I joined the energy industry and the employee benefits industry straight after university and I guess it’s just a testament to all the brilliant people that I’ve learnt from and how exciting this industry can be.”

Runners up

Dani Colvin Laws, The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Lucy Orchiston, EuroCarParts

Rhiannon Davies, hedgehog lab

Rosie Damarell, University of Lincoln

Sponsored by


London Borough of Waltham Forest, Staff Car Pool Pilot

This award recognises an employer that has an excellent strategy pertaining to staff travel benefits, encompassing company cars, green commute schemes and season ticket loans, for example.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest worked with its employees to create an innovative staff car pool scheme after a major development of the town hall’s campus saw parking spaces massively reduce. The scheme, which initially launched as a pilot in February 2018 for 25 planning office staff, provides two low-emission vehicles situated at the town hall for employees to use to attend appointments during the working day. The available cars also include a borough-wide parking permit.

A key aim was to ensure that employees do not have to bring a private vehicle into work, while also aligning with the council’s wider sustainability ambitions.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest further worked with employees when designing and implementing the scheme. This is mirrored in the agile delivery of the benefit, which used a three-week ‘plan, do and adapt’ model to introduce the scheme and improve it based on regular feedback.

In September 2018, the council secured funding to install four electric vehicle charging points; this enabled the available fleet to switch to electric cars. This resulted in car club users saving more than four tonnes of CO2 over 11,000 miles since September, and reducing NOx emissions by 675.9g. Other expansions include the addition of two low-emission vehicles based at satellite offices, and allowing local residents to use the available vehicles on weekday evenings and weekends.

The pilot car pool scheme is now a permanent benefit with 267 members, and car bookings through the scheme have increased from 24 in February 2018 to 236 in October 2018.

The judges said: “We like the agile approach and the fact that there were lots of incentives for employees. Take-up was impressive after just one year. It was a user-led design that was co-designed with the employees’ involvement; that’s something we really liked. Because the cars come with a borough-wide parking permit, staff aren’t wasting time trying to park, so the employer has shown that it’s about helping employees do their job and [supporting] people in the community.”

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “I’m delighted to accept this award. At Waltham Forest Council we are continually looking for innovative ways to build on the work we’re already doing to improve the environment and air quality in borough. “Our Enjoy Waltham Forest improvement programme has reduced the number of households living in areas with dangerously high levels of air pollution by over 50,000 in ten years, and increased the life expectancy of young people in the borough by up to six weeks. “We have also looked at our own behaviour as an employer and how we can encourage sustainable travel amongst our staff. Our Town Hall Campus redevelopment project has reduced the number of car parking spaces on-site – but increased the provision of electric pool cars, electric bicycles, and charging points. “We are making a real difference by reducing emissions in the borough and contributing to a cleaner environment for all.”

Runners up

ENGIE, The Green Car Scheme (entered by Tusker)

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (entered by Tuskerdirect)

University of Lincoln, Linc-On Benefits

Winner: Norton Rose Fulbright

This award, sponsored by Simplyhealth, celebrates an employer that has implemented an effective health and wellbeing strategy for its workforce of more than 1,000 employees.

Law firm Norton Rose Fulbright aimed high with the creation of its holistic health and wellbeing strategy, designing a unified approach that connected separate schemes and benefits in order to boost overall wellbeing and, in particular, mental health. This was aligned with its objectives of creating a preventative culture, normalising mental health conversations, reducing absenteeism, improving engagement and reducing healthcare premiums.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s strategy centres around an annual calendar of events focused on four key themes: healthy living, mind, body and finances. This breadth is to ensure the strategy is applicable for the firm’s 1,300 UK employees, regardless of their demographic or life stage.

The firm trained 75 people to be mental health first aid officers and launched a ‘Need Help?’ button on each employee’s desktop, which links to Norton Rose Fulbright’s global resilience intranet page. All business phones also come with an employee assistance programme (EAP) app.

The wider programme includes nutrition, mindfulness, on-site health checks, local gym classes and access to a private GP. The organisation is also implementing a six-week wellness programme, which will address physical and mental fitness.

The results speak for themselves: EAP usage increased from 4.8% in quarter three of 2017 to 7.6% in quarter three of 2018, while anxiety and worry as a presenting EAP issue decreased by 67% in 2018.

The judges said: “This entry has powerful and clever messages. Norton Rose Fulbright was slick in terms of what it was trying to do and how it was going to be achieved. If people have a crisis point it’s often at work, especially in professional services, so we liked help button a lot; it’s a reminder that help is there. It was a holistic approach, looking at the culture, getting everyone on board, coming from the top and everyone buying into it. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do.”

Vicky Rose, head of reward, wellbeing and global mobility at Norton Rose Fulbright, said: “We had a really holistic approach to our health and wellbeing, and mental health formed a large part of that, so I think it was just trying to draw on everything that we have in place and [think about] what else could we do that was in the industry that we could utilise, [to] increase the impact. We’re delighted that we’ve won.”

Runners up:

Carnival UK, Menopause initiative

Cisco Systems, CiscoPavelka Initiative (entered by Pavelka)

KPMG, Wellbeing Strategy

Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, Ensemble (entered by Check4Cancer)

Sponsored by


BNP Paribas, Spectrum Virtual Benefits Fair (entered by Blue Goose)

This award recognises an employer that has used and adapted benefits technology in order to implement effective strategies for employee engagement, recognition or reward.

With 12 divisions and more than 40 locations, reaching and engaging employees was a significant challenge for BNP Paribas, added to which is the fact that each division has different pay and benefits packages and separate HR, finance and management teams. These issues meant that, although popular among eligible employees, the organisation’s traditional London-based benefits fair did not fit the bill.

To tackle the issue of engagement with benefits among a diverse and dispersed workforce, as well as create a sustainable, paper- and plastic-free approach, the HR, compliance, IT and legal teams across all 12 divisions worked together, alongside more than 20 external benefits providers, to create a live virtual benefits fair. This gave employees 3.5 hours to explore tools, brochures and video content for 25 different benefits, as well as access one-to-one online chat functions.

The fair was designed to be accessible from any device. The information, albeit without the chat functions, then remained accessible for the duration of BNP Paribas’ benefits window.

The results were striking, with 9,750 unique stand visits, 4,388 document views and 1,945 video views, leading to access and submission rates for flex enrolment of 89% and 76%, the highest in four years. In turn, the organisation saw an increase of 437 completions of its benefits-specific workplace survey on the day of the virtual fair alone. When asked about their experiences with the fair, 87% of attendees said it better helped them understand their benefits and 81% rated the user experience as very good or exceptional.

The judges said: “This was very innovative. We like the idea about sustainability, and that it’s much easier to measure success; 91% said they’d take part next year, so it was proper engagement. This was very clever, and really supports an agile working model. This entry stands out; it was technology at its best, and the future being shown.”

Daisy Sherwood, pensions and benefits specialist at BNP Paribas, said: “It’s very exciting [to win]. [The virtual benefits fair is] something very new, and that took quite a lot of work to do, probably more than we anticipated, so it’s very exciting [to win]. BNP Paribas is made up of quite a lot of smaller group companies, so it was about trying to create something that reached everyone.”

Runners up

Atos, Benefits Excellence (entered by Benefex)

Bakkavor, Bakkavor Benefits Platform (entered by Zest Technology)

Capgemini, My Benefits (entered by Aon)

Reed Specialist Recruitment, Reward Hub (entered by Reward Gateway)


Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, Launching a Home Electronics Scheme for Christmas (entered by Vivup)

This award celebrates the achievements of an organisation with more than 1,000 employees, which has used effective and innovative communications to engage staff with its benefits offering.

Many of the employees at Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust are shift workers on a lower income and without regular access to a computer while in the workplace. In its entry, the Trust chose to showcase a specific benefit and surrounding communications campaign, focused around helping employees buy affordable home electronics in time for the festive period.

The window was just two months, and prior to its opening, employees had no awareness of the scheme, which allowed them to spread the cost of a range of goods via salary sacrifice over 12, 24 or 36 months. The Trust therefore launched an intensive and comprehensive communications campaign to ensure maximum take-up in a short timeframe.

This approach included the use of printed materials, information on the staff intranet, mentions in the bi-weekly newsletter, social media posts, details on employees’ payslips and an extensive programme of emails.

The initiative was designed to reach employees both within work and during their off-work hours, when they were more likely to be able to browse at their leisure.

A particularly innovative element of the approach was the use of payslips, which the judges felt was an inspired method of ensuring employees would read the information and directly consider how it might affect their pay. The Trust also focused on peer-to-peer communication, conducting prize draws that included anyone who referred, or was referred by, a colleague; this was noted to be the second most popular way employees learned about the scheme.

The judges said: “It was a really good campaign focused on one benefit relevant to their demographic. These people aren’t paid as well as in other sectors, and in this day and age it’s important to have access to technology. Employees typically do not have access to computers during work; they work shifts and use mobile devices. It’s one of those smaller initiatives with a big impact, and at no cost to the Trust, as well.”

Richard Crum, head of finance transformation, Lisa Mooney, deputy pay, pensions and benefits manager, Tracie Thomas, deputy pay, pensions and benefits manager, said: “The journey [has been] such a pleasure and has brought such reward to our employees. We did a lot of extra hours and worked a lot of weekends to sort it out. Being public sector, you have to understand your employees more. Communications is one of the key things we do with our employees, from our intranet page to promoting it on our e-payslips. We knew all the places our staff would go, and it was the best [scheme] we’ve had for a long, long time.”

Highly Commended

AstraZeneca, My Reward (entered by Benefex)

Runners up

Kier Group (entered by Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing)

Unilever, SHARES (entered by Computershare)


Saint-Gobain Weber, Wellbeing at Weber

This award, sponsored by Capita, recognises the most effective health and wellbeing strategies implemented by organisations with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Manufacturing organisation Saint-Gobain Weber has a diverse workforce of 195 employees spread across three sites in the UK and Ireland; these encompass production roles, office-based staff and remote employees who conduct field work.

Saint-Gobain Weber’s strategy, initially launched in 2015, was designed to support all employees across three key pillars: physical health, emotional resilience and social wellness.

Employees have been at the centre of the values-led health and wellbeing strategy since its creation; the initial roll out was implemented by a cross-functional project team, which consisted of employees from all job types and seniorities, and the initiative is now managed and run by wellbeing champions.

Employees’ views, collected in conjunction with on-site briefings, were used to agree two to three different priority actions at each operating site during the year of the initial launch, accommodating the mix of wellbeing needs across different locations and roles.

Activities included health checks, wellness weeks, access to gym facilities and classes, diet advice, investing in plant environment improvements, an employee assistance programme (EAP), mental health awareness training, access to relaxation rooms, charity challenges and quiz nights.

The strategy further aligns to Saint-Gobain Weber’s ‘zero harm’ approach; this aims to eliminate all work-related accidents, injuries and damage to health.

Since 2015, 78% of employees have registered on the organisation’s online health gateway platform and there has been an overall reduction in employees’ health age of 230 years. The majority (92%) of staff believe Saint-Gobain Weber cares about their health and wellbeing, while employee engagement has increased from 73% to 86%.

The judges said: “There were impressive results, with a reduction in overall health age. It linked the strategy to values with strong supporting metrics; this is impressive because it can be hard to have a direct line of sight from strategy to results in this category.”

Padraig Barry, managing director at Saint-Gobain Weber, said: “It’s the culmination of three or four years’ hard work. We were trying to get people to participate – we can always set a good example ourselves, but it needs to come from [inside them] to work. [Wellbeing at Weber] has worked a treat, and it’s getting better. We’ve got three different sites and lots of people on the road as well, and it touched people in every part of the business.”

Runners Up

Carlsberg UK, For a better today and tomorrow

Fire Security (Sprinkler Installations), Implementing Equipsme and Suffolk Mind's Health and Wellbeing Programme (entered by Equipsme)

Havas Media, Havas Equalise


Sponsored by


e.surv Chartered Surveyors, part of LSL Property Services, ChoiceMatters (entered by Benefex)

This award recognises employers that have successfully aligned their employee benefits offering with their overall business strategy and goals.

The residential surveying market is facing a particularly demanding war for talent, as the number of trained surveyors has shrunk within the last decade. The average employee in this field is an over-50 male with long service; however, with an influx of new graduates, the industry is also facing a stark generation split that can cause issues when trying to tailor a benefits package to employee needs.

For e.surv, the business challenge lay in creating an attractive package to recruit and retain staff from a compact and competitive talent pool, while also catering to the varied needs of the different generations. To do this, the organisation found that choice was key. This led to the introduction of a flex fund allowing employees to select from a range of benefits on the ChoiceMatters platform, using a pot of between £750 and £1,250, depending on their role.

The organisation set out clear objectives, which it was able to surpass. For example, it aimed to increase flexible benefits logins from 20% to 60%, achieving 73%, and aimed to increase employee National Insurance savings to 5%, achieving 24%. As for business objectives, a goal of 12.1% turnover was reached and surpassed, going down to 5%.

The judges said: “This entry has the right thread from strategy through to innovation. You don’t see a lot of entries in that sector, and for e.surv to shine a light on what it’s doing around this is quite unusual. It’s quite a small organisation, and it’s impressive for a small [organisation] to be able to put that much time, effort and money into benefits strategy, and to have some great results. A lot of organisations don’t dare to do flex pots, so it’s quite impressive that while they don’t want to spend too much, they do want to look after their employees. Getting these results with the nature of this industry is something to be commended.”

Kayleigh Burn, reward analyst at e.surv Chartered Surveyors, said: “We’ve done a lot of research and found out what our business really needs from an attrition perspective and how our business goes forward, what we need in a reward system to support that, and to get the people into the business. It’s really shown, the work that we’ve done, and that we are retaining that talent. I’m really pleased [to win this award].”

Highly Commended

Capgemini, MyBenefits (entered by Aon)

Runners up

University of Lincoln

Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Holidays, Working Well, Living Better (entered by Unum/Aon)


London City Airport, A Worry Bigger than the Workplace (entered by Neyber)

This award, sponsored by Wealth at Work, recognises an employer with less than 5,000 members of staff that has a proactive approach to addressing its workforce’s financial needs and supporting staff to make financial, retirement or investment-related benefits decisions.

Following internal research, London City Airport found that 22% of its workforce were living from one pay check to the next, and that 21% lacked confidence when it came to managing their financial affairs. The organisation also felt a growing concern that these issues might impact on physical health if stress and distraction led to workplace accidents.

The key objectives of London City Airport’s initiative were to embed financial wellbeing into employees’ lives and open up the lines of communication, helping people feel comfortable seeking help when needed. It chose to particularly focus on loans and debt consolidation, going further than offering employees access to loaned money, and educating them about improving their finances in the long run.

To do this, the employer introduced a loan and consolidation service, which it launched using internal presentations and one-on-one finance clinics, following up with posters, intranet content and webinars, as well as information on staff payslips. To ensure an eye-catching, as well as friendly and non-intrusive, approach, the organisation used an ice-cream cart to generate interest and reach out to people. These marketing-inspired methods led to 18% of employees engaging with the product, and 57% registering for the wider financial wellbeing hub.

Showing the astuteness of its initial concerns about physical wellbeing, and the importance of financial concerns when it comes to all aspects of health, safety and the employee experience, there has been a year-on-year decrease in accidents at work, while 92% of staff now respond positively when asked if they are confident managing their financial affairs.

The judges said: “We liked the link to safety at work. It is a difficult environment in which to engage staff, a very transient workforce, but London City Airport had a clear strategy and clear evidence. It had a good understanding of the challenges faced by the workforce and was very focused on business objectives, without losing the human side.”

Stephanie Powell, HR manager, and Yasmin Satinoglu, HR business partner, at London City Airport, said: “It’s fantastic to win. We’ve worked really hard to improve our financial wellbeing, and it looks like it’s paid off and our staff are benefitting from it. [We won] probably because we could see the link between financial wellbeing and preventing accidents at work, making sure our people have got their mind on the job and not on their financial worries. It was about creating that link, and taking care of their wellbeing and welfare as well.”

Runners up

Gattaca, Financial Wellbeing (entered by Smarterly)

Goodman Masson, The Experience

Sponsored by


Secure Trust Bank, Boost – Benefits with Real Power

This award celebrates the achievements of an organisation with fewer than 1,000 employees, which has used effective and innovative communications to engage staff with its benefits offering.

Building on an existing benefits scheme, with the aim of boosting take-up and engagement, Secure Trust Bank Group created a fun, quirky communications campaign to catch employees’ eyes. Putting staff at the heart of the approach was key, allowing Secure Trust Bank Group to not only generate interest and talking points, but make a clear commitment to focusing on employees’ needs.

Its 2018 benefits campaign took on the theme of super powers, showcasing each perk and reward in the context of what special advantage it could give to employees when faced with a variety of life events and situations, whether referring to the power to do things they might not normally be able to, or the ability to protect the things they love.

Using a wide range of channels, including posters, intranet banners, articles in the staff magazine, life-sized cut-outs and presentations, Secure Trust Bank Group broadcasted communications centred on images of employees photographed in superhero poses, clearly identified with their name and job role to make sure it was as personal and tangible as possible. This year-long campaign resulted in a 71% average monthly increase in portal traffic.

The judges said: “This was an imaginative campaign that used real employees. It was completely different from what you might perceive as their organisational culture, being a bank and then having employees as super heroes, it’s quite a culture change. This was imaginative and high impact, and the results were humorous, plus it got great employee engagement.”

Anne McKenning, HR director at Secure Trust Bank Group, said: “[We won this award] because we use real staff, so it’s a home-grown campaign using our employees telling us what they actually love about the benefits. As much as in any marketing campaign, really the opinion that matters is the opinion of the people, and the people that take up the benefits. It’s amazing, we’re absolutely stunned, really chuffed, and couldn’t be happier.”

Highly Commended

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK), Benefits Roadshow 2018

Runners up

Non-Standard Finance (entered by Computershare)

University of Lincoln, Linc-On Benefits Platform


Reed Specialist Recruitment, Apprentice Awards

This award celebrates the most effective motivation or incentive strategy implemented by an employer, with a clear impact on employee engagement and potential links to productivity.

Reed Specialist Recruitment has a lengthy list of existing incentives, aimed at combatting low productivity rates among new starters in an industry with a naturally high turnover rate; these initiatives include long service awards, cash incentives and peer recognition. The Apprentice Awards were introduced to complement this set of motivational benefits, as well as to publicly reward and recognise employees who complete the apprenticeship programme and encourage them to complete their learning goals in time.

The Apprenticeship Awards were devised to be closely linked with monetary incentives, as this was found to fit best with the preferences of the typical employee in a sales-based organisation, and were also aligned within a clear career development framework. The aim was to encourage employees to both perform well in their roles and grow the skills to develop.

The monetary and progression-based motivation system was then topped off by an annual event with senior input, celebrating employees’ progress and development, and combining this public recognition with further learning opportunities by couching it in a day focused on personal development.

Following the introduction of the Apprentice Awards, turnover among permanent and temporary entry-level employees dropped substantially. Furthermore, the proportion of apprentices on track to complete work on time rose by more than 58% after the launch of the new motivation and recognition system, showing a clear return on investment from this initiative.

The judges said: “Reed Specialist Recruitment was very clear on what the issue was, why it was important, and how they planned to address it. Their approach joined up to ensure integration with other policies. We loved the graduation and directors’ day, and the fact that their entry led through to a very impressive set of results, which showed increased productivity.”

Ian Nicholas, chief HR officer at Reed Specialist Recruitment, said: “We’re delighted [to have won]. The scheme means a lot to us, so this is recognition for all the hard work that’s gone into it.”

Marianne Ginis, head of reward at Reed Specialist Recruitment, said: “Even though it’s an apprenticeship scheme, we wanted to reward them the same as other employees. Sometimes apprentices can be low paid, but we made sure they’re equally paid and also get additional benefits and reward. We wanted to make them feel special.”

Highly Commended

Colt Technology Services, Colt Inspire (entered by Xexec)

Runners up

Sunrise Senior Living, Celebrating Excellence

University of Lincoln, Linc-On Benefits


Sandwell Council, My Employee Benefits (entered by Sodexo Exchange)

This award celebrates the most effective use of a voluntary benefits plan within an organisation, including staff offers that are available for all employees.

Faced with the challenge of providing a benefits scheme that appeals to 4,500 diverse and dispersed employees, as well as generating savings for the organisation itself, Sandwell Council implemented a new voluntary scheme in 2014, offering a range of perks, from lifestyle discounts to green cars. In 2018, it launched a refresh programme to drive renewed motivation, as well as attract the next wave of younger talent.

This included a rebranding process that aimed to create an inclusive, vibrant feeling, and a communications campaign incorporating pop-up banners, scheme cards, roadshows at key locations and prize giveaways.Best voluntary benefits

In terms of results, take-up of voluntary benefits has reached 45% and staff have saved £300,000 since the scheme was launched; meanwhile, Sandwell Council has been able to reinvest £200,000-worth of its own National Insurance savings into other HR initiatives. These include a new car scheme, talent and leadership development programmes and a two-year ‘jobs promise’ guarantee for any employee.

The judges said: “Sandwell Council had a well thought out strategy which looked to benefit both the employer and employees, as well as the local economy. There was a lot of good activity, and the really impressive part is re-investing the savings that the council made into funding a whole raft of additional programmes for employees.”

Mark Stanley, senior human resources business partner at Sandwell Council, said: “[Winning means] an awful lot. We [have] the viewpoint that it’s to give something back to the workforce, so while we’ve won this for the work that we’ve done, it’s really a recognition of all that we’ve provided for the workforce to say thank you for all the hard work that they’ve put in. So it’s great that we’ve got it, but it’s also bigger than that.”

Highly Commended

University of Lincoln, Linc-On Benefits

Runners up

Deutsche Telekom Services Europe AG (subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom Group), Time to Change

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Benefits Everyone


Aspen (entered by Thomsons Online Benefits)

This award celebrates the most effective use of a flexible benefits strategy within an organisation working to engage employees and deliver against their wants and needs.

Aspen’s goal when introducing a flexible benefits plan was to appeal to a diverse demographic, offer increased choice, provide meaningful benefits and save the organisation a considerable amount of money. To ensure its efforts were targeted and effective, the employer undertook extensive research, including marketplace benchmarking, employee surveys and focus groups.

Following this process, Aspen revamped its existing benefits, as well as introducing 12 additional initiatives; these included a car lease scheme, a discount portal, a will writing service, financial education, season ticket loans and a corporate Isa, among others. The organisation also rebranded its benefits portal to provide a fresh, modern look.

Aspen has seen cost savings in excess of £800,000, and National Insurance savings amounting to an additional £210,000; using these additional resources, it has been able to provide staff with a £1,000 annual wellness pot.

Following the rebrand, revamp and an extensive communications campaign, Aspen saw an impressive 92% of employees log in during the annual benefits window, an increase of 39 percentage points since the previous year. This led to 819 new benefit selections, showing that employees are benefitting from the initiatives on a practical level.

The judges said: “Aspen had a clear strategic intent with defined and measurable objectives, a good range of activities which complemented each other, with a really engaging communication plan, and really strong achievements against all of the stated objectives.”

Antonia Bello, benefits manager at Aspen, said: “It’s great [to win], really exciting. We worked really hard to bring the value of the benefits to the employees and it’s nice to get that acknowledgement.”

Elliott Rees-Davies, head of reward at Aspen, said: “It was a long project, we wanted to get underneath what would bring value to employees. So we spent quite a bit of time talking to people, doing focus groups and survey data, and bringing it together to see what people really wanted, and then thinking about how we deliver that without costing too much, and while saving some time. We pulled off a bit of a win-win, in terms of being able to deliver a better package while also making some savings.”

Highly Commended

Tokio Marine Kiln, Choices (entered by Buck)

Runner up

ServiceNow (entered by Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing)


IMI, Optimize (entered by AHC)

This award recognises an employer that has implemented an effective communications strategy to engage employees with their retirement savings and financial wellbeing.

Having just refreshed its branding of the workplace defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, engineering organisation IMI wanted to think outside of the box when it came to communications. The business opted to utilise a direct marketing model, to help improve employees’ understanding of the DC pension scheme and encourage staff to take action to better their long-term financial wellbeing.

Each employee was sent a parcel containing a pensions pack; this included a simplified pension statement with a data-linked QR code and a free sachet of ground coffee as a gift. The coffee sachet aligned with the branding of the communications, which focused around how much employees could save if they contributed the price of a daily cup of coffee into their retirement savings.

Scanning the QR code enabled employees to view a pre-populated contribution modelling tool; this featured a colour-coded dial illustrating how near they were to achieving their target retirement income. The modelling tool was made available on employees’ mobile devices, and facilitates direct requests to HR to increase pension contributions.

IMI’s communications approach created a buzz among the workforce; 40% of DC pension scheme members used the modelling tool and 72% of members who took action after engaging with the modeller increased their contributions by 3% or more.

The judges said: “We absolutely loved the coffee sachet and QR code; it’s really innovative but so simple and it led to positive and immediate action. It stood out from a communications perspective and we love the way people get their personalised results. The organisation has got some excellent statistics and results from its approach.”

John Jones, head of HR projects at IMI, said: “[I believe we won because] it was just completely innovative and [a] really good solution. It was some really excellent ideas from the consultancy, AHC, that helped us to do this and it really resonated with the people and I think it was a great idea. It’s just fantastic. It’s great to be recognised for all the hard work that was put into it. We’ve got a great partnership already with our pensions team and we’re going to go forwards, onwards and upwards.”

Highly Commended

Siemens (Entered by Personal Group)

Youngs Seafood (Entered by Nudge)

Runners up

BT, The BT Pension Scheme (BTPS) and The BT Retirement Saving Scheme (BTRSS) (Entered by Wealth at Work)

Johnson Matthey, Johnson Matthey Employees Pension Scheme (JMEPS)

Kier Group (entered by Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing)

Morgan Sindall Group, Fit for the Future (entered by Like Minds)


Royal Mail Group, Because Healthy Minds Matter

This award celebrates an organisation with an exceptional strategy surrounding the benefits, communications and support systems that can influence employees’ mental wellbeing.

In 2017, postal organisation Royal Mail Group committed to make a positive difference to the mental health of its 140,000 UK-based employees. This was brought to life through a five-year mental health strategy, Because Healthy Minds Matter, which combines group-wide programmes and local activities to increase the awareness of mental health, decrease the associated stigma and signpost available tools.

Collaboration with internal stakeholders and unions was key in the creation of Because Healthy Minds Matter, as was external benchmarking to ensure the right tools and resources were made available for staff.

As part of the overarching strategy, which utilises both proactive and reactive support, Royal Mail Group has developed a new e-learning course for managers, to equip them to manage those with mental health concerns. A version is now being made available for 130,000 front line staff via the organisation’s wellbeing portal, Feeling First Class.

In addition, 1,350 managers have been trained in mental health first aid; the business has now committed to train all of its 5,500 physical first aiders in this, too.

In February 2018, Royal Mail Group launched its mental health ambassador pilot, to create an engaged volunteer network to provide peer-to-peer support. The organisation aspires to have an ambassador in every workplace within two years.

Because Healthy Minds Matter has contributed to more employees seeking mental health support; 100 more calls are being made each month to the organisation’s First Class Support helpline, while membership of Feeling First Class has risen by 69% between September 2017 and October 2018.

The judges said: “The five-year commitment to the mental health plan and a connection to the executive board is impressive. It is a very polished and sustainable strategy; it’s a plan to make seismic change over time.

“This is a business that faces specific challenges, so needs a strong and bold approach to reach individuals. Considering the organisation has tight budgets and resources, the plan uses good materials with a variety of communications. It’s a different approach.”

Dr Shaun Davis, global director of safety, health, wellbeing and sustainability at Royal Mail Group, said: “To get recognition for the work that we’ve done, and the fact that it’s such a current topic and something that affects everybody, our employees and their families, is amazing. It’s a five-year strategy, so not flash-in-the-pan, [and uses] our people to help our people, tying it back to the workplace strategy about development, retention and engagement.

“When you are accepting [awards such as this] on behalf of your [organisation] and your colleagues, it’s phenomenal, so we’re really, really thrilled. It makes it all worthwhile. You do it because it’s the right thing to do, but when you get recognised as well, it’s fantastic.”

Highly Commended

Skanska UK

Runners up


Landsec (entered by Unmind)

Three UK, Wellbeing Strategy


Ian Hodson, University of Lincoln

This award, sponsored by Benefex, recognises an individual who has made their mark on the benefits and reward industry, both with innovative work within their own organisation and in the form of external influence.

Ian Hodson has implemented a number of innovative and effective programmes as part of his work for the University of Lincoln, several of which have gained accolades at previous Employee Benefits Awards. He is also a prominent figure externally, including chairing the University Reward Network Group, as well as being a regular speaker and contributor on topics relating to the world of benefits and reward.

Perhaps his most memorable project to date is the Linc-On benefits platform, a bespoke system using a ‘top trumps’ set-up, laid out on an interactive map of Lincoln, providing an engaging, eye-catching route into the organisation’s reward provisions. Furthermore, Hodson has implemented an impressive financial education programme, Financial Fairytales, and has taken a particular focus on benefits linked to the local community.

Ian Hodson, head of reward at the University of Lincoln, said: “Making a transition from accountancy to payroll and then into employee benefits and reward as it’s grown as an agenda in the workplace has been fantastic. I’ve been really fortunate over the years to work with some fantastic teams, who have all been creative. It’s more about recognition of what my teams have done and the ideas and the creativity that we’ve tried to bring in to the employee benefits arena, as much as about anything I’ve done.

“I’m just incredibly proud to win the individual accolade on the day. It makes me really, really proud. I’ve always been extremely proud to work in this area, I know how much it impacts on employees, I know about some of the programmes we’ve done in the community and how much they motivate staff and make them feel valued.”

Runners up

Adam Brooke, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Tom Hiles, BNP Paribas

Sponsored by


BNP Paribas (entered by Blue Goose), Spectrum Virtual Benefits Fair

Category: Best use of benefits technology

This award, sponsored by Aon, recognises the best of the best of all of the winners of Employee Benefits Awards 2019.

BNP Paribas was chosen as the Grand Prix winner for a number of reasons, the most prominent being its standout innovation in the face of a difficult challenge.

With 9,500 employees, including a newly inherited 1,000 from a recent acquisition, many of whom are disparate and non-office-based, BNP Paribas had a considerable task in hand when it came to boosting engagement with mature benefits.

The entries for this year’s awards showcased numerous examples of creativity, innovation and high-impact strategy, but BNP Paribas’ virtual benefits fair, in itself a UK first, represented an exciting glimpse into the future of benefits communications. Considering it also took into account important social concerns such as sustainability, and gained impressive results, this stood out as a clear Grand prix winner.

The judges said: “The organisation really wanted to think outside the box; what really impressed us was that it was really innovative technology, and it harnessed all their suppliers, gave them loads of training and the benefits roadshow was open to all employees.

“They had some really impressive results: a 40% increase on their mature benefit take up, and the access and submission rates for flex enrolment were 89% and 76%, respectively, the highest they’ve been for four years.”

Tom Hiles, group benefits manager at BNP Paribas, said: “It’s something that hasn’t been done before, at least not in this field, in this industry. It was quite a big task in the end, bigger than we thought, it ended up being a bigger project than our flex work, even though this was meant to just promote our flex system. We like doing projects that are innovative, new, with different types of technology, things which are a bit challenging [and] outside of our comfort zone. There’s a big fear that it might not work, particularly on the day when you send out the emails and you want to invite people in, so when it did work and it went so well, it was a great feeling. I’m really happy [to win], it’s a good category.”

Sponsored by


Kier Group (entered by Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing)

This category celebrates how an in-house benefits team worked together to deliver benefits that meet the HR and business strategies of their organisation.

With fewer than 10 members, Kier Group’s reward and pensions team is faced with a steep challenge, as it is responsible for the design and delivery of benefits and reward strategies for all of the organisation’s 16,000 members of staff. To add further complexity, Kier Group’s workforce is geographically dispersed, and a significant proportion do not have ready access to online services while working.

Under the umbrella of the overarching business strategy, Vision 2020, and in a time of rapid growth for the organisation, the Kier Group HR team was responsible for implementing a series of strategic projects to support engagement, motivation and retention. These included the launch of an online benefits hub, Kier Benefits, standardising reward packages across job grades, creating a range of recognition tools, overhauling the organisation’s pensions arrangements and running a year-long ‘benefit of the month’ communications campaign.

The team’s dedication to communication, in particular, can be seen in its efforts engage in face-to-face dialogue with upwards of 5,100 members of staff across 45 locations, providing education sessions that were adapted according to engagement levels and individual needs in each location.

The results are evident in the increase in take-up of various benefits, including a 77% increase in usage following the childcare voucher promotion, for example, and a 52% increase in engagement with pension contribution amounts following promotion of the Kier Retirement Savings plan.

The judges said: “Kier stands out for its education sessions; both the fact that they have them, and the fact that they can be adapted. They also worked quite hard on displaying their teamwork within a common goal.”

Mark Bradshaw, pensions and reward director at Kier Group, said: “It’s been a tough year for the team, they’ve worked really, really hard in a number of areas and it’s just really nice to get that recognition from their peers. To get recognised is amazing. [We won because of] the hard work we put into getting out there and talking to people. That’s helped our engagement and it helps the team understand the business better.

"This is just a testament to the amount of work we put in to just making sure that we do things in various different ways; I think that’s what matters to us, actually."

Highly Commended

Three UK

Runner up