Employee Benefits Awards 2012: Most effective all-employee share scheme strategy

Asda Stores, Sharesave, entered by Computershare

In a tightly-fought category, the judges were impressed by Asda’s decision to remove paper enrolment for its sharesave scheme and rely solely on electronic methods. This was felt to be a particularly brave step given Asda’s workforce demographic and the fact that most employees do not have computer access at work. The results show this has not had a detrimental effect, with participation levels rising year on year.

The judges were also impressed by the fact that Asda compensates for the risks involved in purchasing overseas stock by absorbing any losses caused by exchange rates moving against sharesave participants. One judge said: “[It was] doing something innovative in trying to take currency risk away from employees.”

To communicate the benefit effectively to a diverse workforce in a tough economic climate, an innovative approach was required. In its campaign, Asda included anecdotes from staff who had already taken part in sharesave on documentation relating to joining the scheme and sharesave maturity. Sharesave champions, equipped with a sharesave toolkit, were also on hand throughout the company to answer questions.

Information and posters were distributed in rest areas and canteens to reach staff who work variable shifts. Social media also played a big part in communications, with Asda promoting the benefit on its Facebook page and adding a sharesave 2011 web page to its staff website, The Green Room.

Jane Earnshaw, reward manager, said: “The challenging part for us is being able to communicate to all 175,000 colleagues in an effective way. That is why we decided to use social media.”

Instead of tracking take-up figures at the end of the registration period, Asda tracked enrolment figures in real time. This allowed it to monitor the effectiveness of the communications campaign across the business.


Marks and Spencer, entered by Equiniti
Last year marked 30 years of sharesave at Marks and Spencer. It was also the year when employees who joined sharesave in 2008 shared gains of over £65 million from 21 million shares. The retailer used these two events as the theme for sharesave in 2011, choosing a seaside theme using the strapline ‘Rock solid since 1981’.


BT Group, saveshare UK and directshare, entered by Equiniti
BT offers sharesave schemes and share incentive plans that utilise single sign-on technology. A share scheme portal gives staff straight-through access from the BT intranet to the application page. This portal also gives staff information on what to do when a scheme matures.

MoneySupermarket.com, iChoose Share Plans
This sharesave scheme, introduced in 2011, was rebranded to bring the documentation in line with other benefits. A similar brand to MoneySupermarket.com was adopted, which was bright, user-friendly and jargon-free. The sharesave scheme also allows staff to redirect their savings into a new contract if it has a lower option price.

Virgin Media, Sharesave
This entrant took steps to ensure staff understood and valued its sharesave scheme. The firm’s CEO is involved in the scheme’s annual launch and other employers that offer the benefit, such as Asda, are invited to come and share best practice. Videos are used to dispel myths about sharesave and to communicate around capital gains tax.

Whitbread, Sharesave
A total of 9,470 more employees were able to take part in sharesave after Whitbread removed the requirement that staff had to have three months’ service to be eligible. It communicated its scheme using leaflets, staff testimonials, presentations and articles in internal magazines. An online tool showed staff estimated returns on investment.

Read more about the Employee Benefits Awards 2012