Travis Perkins, which employs approximately 30,000 people across the UK, operates according to its five core values, known as cornerstones: upholding family values, keeping people safe, working for its customers, being the best, and making decent returns. The latter does not merely refer to financial returns, but also to the creation of value for customers, partners, and employees, a concept that also informs the group’s benefits strategy. Paul Nelson, group head of reward, says: “It’s about finding ways of engaging and motivating employees in the benefits space where you’re being thoughtful in what you’re offering, how you’re communicating it, how you’re positioning it, and how you’re funding it.”
Bringing it all together
In 2013, the builders’ merchant and home improvement retailer revamped its benefits offering to ensure that employees experienced the full value of the benefits available to them. While the organisation already had a wide portfolio of benefits in place, these were often communicated as distinct elements; the revamp brought all the benefits together into a more clearly defined piece, streamlining communications and the employee experience.
“We started talking about the benefits proposition more holistically, so at that time we launched a new brand called Perks,” explains Nelson.
The brand, which has evolved into My Perks, is used across the organisation’s benefits hubs. Staff can access flexible benefits via the My Perks Flex hub, which links through to other benefits portals, such as pensions, employee share plans, and health and wellbeing tools and information.
Travis Perkins’ voluntary benefits site, provided by Reward Gateway, was rebranded as My Perks Plus and aligned with its staff recognition schemes. Employees can now use their recognition awards within the voluntary benefits portal, enabling them to take advantage of the discounts available, thus driving up the value of the awards.
The group also runs long-service awards, the Getting It Right Awards, where managers recognise employees who have gone the extra mile or performed excellent work, and a peer-to-peer recognition scheme is also being piloted.
After bringing its benefits together, the subsequent challenge was getting employees to visit the benefits portal. The Travis Perkins Group operates 21 businesses across 2,000 sites, and has 19 brands within those. With a significant number of employees working at retail sites, workshops and builders’ yards, for example, many do not have regular access to a work computer or device, and although they may have a work email address they might not actively use this.
“These days, almost everybody has access to a home computer, laptop or smartphone, and everybody tends to have an email address,” explains Nelson. “If we can get staff to log onto the site, we’ve then got an [active] email address for them, and we can then communicate to them much more easily. It was about getting people onto sites because you then start to get the snowball effect.”
The organisation uses a range of communication methods, such as including portal log-on details on payslips, and issuing posters and coffee cups with quick-response (QR) codes that take staff directly to the benefits site.
As well as unifying its benefits proposition, Travis Perkins has aligned the branding used across benefits communication for the whole group. “[Our businesses] work together for commercial opportunities and certainly when we look at things such as benefits it makes perfect sense to look at those on a group basis, with a group brand,” says Nelson.
While the familiar branding helps to provide a positive, and recognisable link between staff and the benefits available to them, Travis Perkins is also working to ensure the communications and messaging used are clear and straightforward. Nelson says: “Well over two-thirds of our colleagues are now active users of our benefits site, which has been a real achievement. It can take a little bit of time to encourage them to go to the [site], but they are now starting to better understand the benefits we have on offer.”
Present and future requirements
Travis Perkins is now turning its attention to a new area for the organisation: financial wellbeing. This focus has developed out of a research project with Barclays. “We thought that we had exhausted the traditional flexible benefits that we needed to have, so we thought we should maybe stop listening to the conventional wisdom about what our benefits should be and instead go and ask,” says Nelson. “So we tied this in with Barclays looking at the financial health of the organisation, demographics, particularly age demographics, and looking at what benefits appeal to what groups.”
Approximately 1,500 employees took part in the survey, which provided a clearer overview of the financial concerns among staff. Travis Perkins is now in the process of developing a programme that will better support the financial health of its employees, which will likely include pensions education as part of a broader financial wellbeing offering.
The survey also provided a snapshot of the changing demographics within the workforce and the concerns, aspirations and benefits expectations of different generations. “We’re working our way through the research and that will help to form the basis of our benefits structure going forward,” adds Nelson.
Ensuring that the benefits on offer continue to appeal to all members of the workforce, both now and in the future, will also help to support attraction and retention, and thus the business’ growth trajectory.
A revamped approach to health and wellbeing
In April 2016, the organisation began to undertake a refresh of its health and wellbeing programme. Nelson says: “We have quite a lot on our health and wellbeing site so we wanted to streamline it, send clear messages, and make sure that we position it in a way that doesn’t put people off because we have too much going on.”
Travis Perkins’ comprehensive health offering includes, among others, discounted gym membership and on-site fitness classes, provided by British Military Fitness. Many of the insurance and health and wellbeing benefits have been facilitated through Travis Perkins’ partnership with Aviva, such as access to cutting-edge cancer treatment at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, and the introduction of a new virtual GP service, which enables employees to consult with a doctor over the phone. The refresh will also align with the government’s One You health campaign, which launched in March 2016.
New car salary sacrifice scheme
In March 2016, Travis Perkins introduced a green car salary sacrifice scheme, provided by Car Salary Exchange. The organisation ran a teaser communications campaign in the build-up to the launch and will continue to engage staff with the new benefit via a series of roadshows, presentations and drop-in sessions conducted in partnership with the provider.
More than 180 orders were placed in the first few weeks since its launch, and 4,000 employees visited the site, which is accessed through the My Perks Flex portal. “We’re really pleased with the response so far,” says Nelson. “And, if nothing else, that’s 4,000 people that have gone through our flexible benefits site, so if they’ve not been there before, they have now logged on and we can communicate with them through the site.”
There are checks and forecast tools in place to ensure that participation in the car salary sacrifice scheme does not take staff below the minimum wage thresholds.
The introduction of the national living wage has posed an additional challenge in terms of its impact on the number of staff eligible to take up salary sacrifice arrangements. Travis Perkins wants its benefits programme to benefit as many employees as possible, so it has set up alternatives where it can. This could be through discounts arranged via affinity schemes and corporate partnerships or via its suite of voluntary benefits. “With all our benefits where we have a salary sacrifice arrangement, we try and have an alternative that’s not salary sacrifice. That’s our aim, to always have an alternative,” says Nelson.
Travis Perkins at a glance
Travis Perkins is a supplier of materials and professional services for the building and construction industry. Its heritage reaches back some 200 years. Today, the group comprises 21 businesses and it owns 19 brands within these. It operates across more than 2,000 sites in the UK and employs approximately 30,000 people.
- To be the first choice for the building industry and customers, while ensuring a decent return in terms of value for employees, business partners and customers.
- Developing the employee benefits offering to support business growth.
Paul Nelson joined Travis Perkins as group head of reward in 2013. Prior to that he spent 12 years at Ceva Logistics, previously known as TNT Logistics, where he began as UK compensation and benefits manager at TNT Logistics before becoming the global reward lead at Ceva Logistics. Nelson also has experience in the financial services industry, including as remuneration manager at Barclays.
One of the projects that Nelson is most proud of during his time at Travis Perkins is the launch of the My Perks brand, which helped to bring together the group’s employee benefits offering.
The benefits offered by Travis Perkins
- Defined contribution scheme, master trust – contribution levels vary according to seniority level and length of service. A salary sacrifice option is available.
- Legacy defined benefit schemes.
Healthcare and wellbeing
- Employer-paid private medical insurance according to seniority, and also available as a voluntary benefit.
- Employer-paid health checks according to seniority, and also available as a voluntary benefit.
- Employer-paid income protection scheme according to seniority.
- Life insurance at minimum of one-times salary with the option to flex up to 10-times salary available to all employees.
- Discounted gym membership.
- Eyecare vouchers.
- Employee assistance programme (EAP).
- Health cash plan offered via flexible benefits.
- Cancer support through the Sarah Cannon Research Institute.
- Employer-paid fitness classes.
- Virtual GP consultations.
- Sharesave and buy-as-you-earn schemes, open to all employees.
- Car salary sacrifice scheme.
- Company car scheme and cash allowance according to seniority.
- Bikes-for-work scheme.
- Childcare vouchers.
- Enhanced maternity scheme.
- Some flexible and part-time working.
Motivation and recognition
- Offers and discounts through voluntary benefits hub My Perks Plus.
- Mobile phones, available through a salary sacrifice arrangement or at a discounted rate through affinity schemes.
- Laptops available at a discounted rate through affinity scheme.
- Employee discounts on organisation’s own products.
- Subsidised canteens.
- Employee recognition schemes, including long service awards, peer-to-peer recognition and the Getting It Right Awards.