Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective travel strategy for business and perk car drivers


Whitbread Company car scheme

Whitbread’s approach to its company car strategy stood out because of the company’s refusal to take the easy option when looking to reduce the scheme’s running costs by 25%. The judges were impressed by the effort made to improve the benefits offered to staff, rather than simply making cuts to the scheme. “Recognition is due for not taking the easy option of slashing [the benefit] but effectively reinventing the mindset of employees towards the car scheme,” they said.

After consulting employees, Whitbread simplified its strategy by moving from two policies to one. It designed a framework that used car bands based on the whole-life cost of a car, as opposed to its previous policy, based on salary level. It also revised the elements on which the whole-life cost was calculated. Restricting CO2 emissions to 160g or less was a key objective.

Rewriting existing contracts resulted in substantial cost savings for the company. Most of its cars were on a 12/24 months/30,000 miles contract, which was changed to 48 months/80,000 miles. It also implemented a mileage audit to ensure staff did not exceed the mileage limit and incur excess mileage termination costs for the business. These savings enabled Whitbread to remain with its four prestigious manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Mini and Volkswagen. It was also able to increase significantly the number of models available to staff.

Other changes included allowing staff to trade models up or down and widening the previously strict eligibility criteria for its cash allowance option.

The results are impressive. Whitbread was on target to save £760,739 for the last financial year, compared with projected savings of £644,000, and over 85% of its fleet now has CO2 emissions below 160g. It also reduced the administrative processes of the scheme, resulting in savings on headcount.

Runners up
CSC Computer Sciences Flex car scheme (entered by Lex Autolease)
CSC reviewed its company car policy in 2009. Its main aims were to increase choice for staff, to encourage management take-up of company cars over cash allowances, and incentivise low CO2-emitting cars. The resulting scheme, offered via flex, has reduced operating costs and lowered average CO2 emissions.†

Deloitte Flex cars – low emission company cars for the wider workforce via salary sacrifice
Deloitte, one of the first employers to introduce salary sacrifice for company cars, set out to extend car benefits to all staff, restructure the way cars were offered to managers, and lower the fleet’s carbon footprint – all at no extra cost. In the first year, 8% of staff took up a car via the scheme, and average CO2 emissions have fallen.

Eli Lilly and Company Green fleet initiative and Ecos replacement
Changes to Lilly’s car strategy include improving the fleet’s environmental credentials, improving safety through driver training and replacing its car ownership scheme with a more cost-effective alternative. Significant savings are expected.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Benefits plus green travel (entered by Hewitt Associates)
The law firm’s initiatives for environmentally friendly travel include a hybrid car on-call service, a salary sacrifice car scheme offered through flex, a cycle-to-work scheme and a carbon calculator. It also recycles 150 litres of cooking oil a month to make bio-diesel fuel for its radio taxi service.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 4U staff support and benefits
The trust reviewed its car strategy after finding its leasing arrangement did not meet its recruitment and retention objectives. It was replaced with a salary sacrifice car scheme and bikes for work. Both have resulted in savings on employer NI contributions.

See full list of winners and finalists for the Employee Benefits Awards 2010