Media firm Informa tailors its workplace savings and other perks to suit a young, diverse workforce, says Jennifer Paterson
As a media organisation, Informa has a diverse portfolio of publications and events. Its titles range from Lloyd’s List, which has been in circulation since 1734, through to its newest publication, the International Journal of Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Medicine, which was launched in March 2011.
Diversity also applies to Informa’s workforce, with employees spread across 40 countries. The company’s focus going into 2012 is to ensure that its benefits package reflects this range, particularly in its approach to workplace savings and the impending pension reforms that will take effect from October 2012.
Thomas Humphris, head office HR and UK reward director at Informa, says: “We have to make sure we are not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to financial planning and saving. We employ a young workforce and a priority of people in their 30s may not be a pension. It will be paying off student debt, or saving for a house or wedding.”
To target its diverse employee groups, Informa has divided its workplace savings strategy into three categories: short-term, medium-term and long-term savings.
The short-term savings vehicle is a corporate individual savings account (Isa), which will be introduced in April 2012 with Informa’s pension provider, Friends Life. The company had intended to add the scheme to its benefits offering in April 2011 but the website was not ready in time, so it was held back to coincide with the next tax year. Humphris says: “We have to make sure employees understand that the corporate Isa may be a short-term investment vehicle but, particularly with the economic climate at the moment, they can be contributing money and making money on it.”
The medium-term savings strategy is a renewed focus on the organisation’s sharesave scheme, Informa Invest, which previously sat with the company secretary’s department, but will now be brought into the employee benefits portfolio, accessible through the online flexible benefits portal. The long-term savings vehicle is the firm’s group personal pension (GPP) plan, which has been in place since January 2000.
“The rationale behind this structure is to help employees think about financial planning in a more proactive way and to help them identify with the consequences associated with each method,” says Humphris.
Communications around the three-tiered workplace savings strategy will be based on financial education, introduced in tandem with the corporate Isa. Workplace sessions, with Friends Life and independent financial adviser Westminster Wealth, will explain the different workplace savings vehicles available to employees, then introduce the concept of the 2012 pension reforms and educate them about the next steps.
“We want employees to understand that there are different ways to plan for their future,” says Humphris. “I want to make sure we are in control of informing the workforce of what is coming on the horizon, how and when it affects them.”
Informa’s staging date for the pension reforms is 1 July 2013, because it currently has 3,400 UK employees. However, Humphris says this could be brought forward to January 2013 if staff numbers increase. “We are an acquisitive company and the acquisitions can happen quite quickly, so we could easily tip over [into a different category].”
Another benefit being introduced in 2012, in time for Informa’s annual flexible benefits enrolment window, is will writing, which supports the company’s renewed focus on financial education and preparation for the future. A survey by professional advice website Unbiased.co.uk in October 2010 revealed that 30 million UK adults have not written a will, and 90% of those aged under 35 have not done so.
Humphris says: “When people are that age, they think they are invincible. This is how I see the whole financial education piece: let’s have a look at your current situation, how you can make the best of your money now, let’s look at short, medium and long term, but let’s also look at the inevitable.”
Because most of Informa’s publishing business can be accessed via the web or in downloadable formats, such as Kindle, iPhone and iPad applications, the firm has added iPads to its computer scheme. The scheme, provided through Let’s Connect, was first launched during the 2011 flexible benefits enrolment window. Staff can lease an iPad through a salary sacrifice arrangement.
Humphris points out: “We have a workforce that is using electronic media on a daily basis, and we want to give them the opportunity to have that at home as well.”
The continuing challenge for Informa is to improve its benefits package year on year. To keep it new and fresh, the firm conducts separate employee surveys in its business divisions. For example, in 2010 it polled only employees in its Taylor and Francis division.
Humphris says: “We do not do a company-wide survey. Our CEO, Peter Rigby, describes our organisation as ‘an archipelago of independent trading islands’. We like to retain that because it creates that entrepreneurial spirit. If we become one very big organisation, we cannot move nimbly and we cannot move quickly, and we will lose that entrepreneurial spark.”
Informa uses its flexible benefits platform as one of its main communication channels. It also sends a flex booklet to employees’ homes with a PDF version on the website, and provides online total reward statements. The online flex platform, provided by Vebnet, has been in place for four years. The organisation has an absence management tracker on the site where staff can input their holiday days, for example, which increases traffic to the site.
Next year, Informa will also be sending every employee a letter with a plastic gold card attached to it, providing instructions on how to access the flexible benefits website from home. The card can also be used as identification for employee discounts. Roadshows are held in November and December at each of Informa’s UK offices.
“Everyone gets quite excited about them each year,” says Humphris. “On the day of the roadshow, all employees have a postcard on their desk. One year we had a boarding card. They have to take the card down to the roadshow, see three suppliers and get it stamped, and then they go into a draw.”
The roadshows for the 2012 flexible benefits enrolment will also includecommunication around Informa’s three-tiered strategy for workplace savings. Humphris adds: “I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for drop-in sessions around auto-enrolment, a bit like Employee Benefits Live.”
The new workplace savings strategy also reflects Informa’s focus on communications, which has traditionally been split into two streams: health and wealth.
“The whole benefits strategy is built on those two elements, and how both of those two streams can, quite regularly, cross over with our wellness strategy at work,” says Humphris. “Employee benefits, health, wealth and wellness: I see those as being integral for an ever-increasing cycle, crossing over each other.”
Humphris strongly believes that communications around benefits are just as important as the actual benefits on offer. “It is all very well to have 20 different benefits, but they will have no value if they are not marketed and highlighted properly,” he says. “The communications side was one of the core principles that I introduced when I took over here.”
Informa’s strategy to provide diverse communications that target its diverse workforce will continue to evolve in 2012 with its three-tiered workplace savings strategy, ensuring all staff are prepared for the future.
Informa at a glance
Informa is a conferencing, publishing and events organisation with 8,000 staff in 150 offices across 40 countries. In the UK, it has 3,400 employees.
Its publishing streams include mainly business-to-business journals covering law, healthcare and academic subjects. Its events, up to 8,000 a year, range from the Monaco Yacht Show to Arab Health, which hosts 66,000 delegates.
The company was formed in 1998 through a merger between conference firm International Business Communications (IBC) and Lloyd’s of London Press. It acquired academic publisher Taylor and Francis in 2004, events business the Institute for International Research (IIR) in 2005, and Data Monitor in 2007.
The average employee age at Informa is 36, with a 50/50 gender split. Annual revenue is £1.23 billion.
Career history: Thomas Humphris
Thomas Humphris, head office HR and UK reward director at Informa, has various responsibilities. He heads up benefits and reward for 3,400 employees in the UK, as well as overseeing head office HR, global information technology, and global health and safety at all office locations and events.
“That involves putting in place robust processes, particularly for our large-scale events, which the event co-ordinators have to follow, making sure all the legislation is met, both internally and in the local countries,” he says.
Humphris has worked at Informa since April 2005, having joined as HR director for all its maritime and transport publications. He began his current role in November 2008. “The role is forever growing,” He says. “There are many challenges on the horizon, particularly acquisitions, making sure we are replicating the employee benefits.”
Before joining Informa, Humphris was head of HR at Snell and Wilcox and MMS International. He has also been an area HR manager at Boots, where he was responsible for airport and railway station stores.
- Group personal pension (GPP) plan, minimum staff contribution of 3% which attracts a 5% match from Informa
- Sharesave scheme
- Corporate Isa (coming in April 2012), available as a flexible benefit
Group risk and health
- Critical illness, as a flexible benefit
- Income protection, as a core benefit for all staff at four-times salary
- Private medical insurance (PMI), fully funded for some parts of the business
- Employee assistance programme (EAP)
- PMI for dependents
- Dental insurance
- Health cash plan
- Health screening
- Gym membership
- Bikes-for-work scheme
- Childcare vouchers
- Payroll giving
- Home computer scheme
- Retail vouchers
- Company cars and cash allowance for business-need drivers
- 25 days a year
- Holiday purchase, up to five days
Read more about workplace savings