US-headquartered daily deals business Groupon launched its UK division in 2010 and has since been busy creating an employee benefits package that appeals to both its start-up, intern-heavy workforce and its newer, more experienced staff.
“We didn’t have a robust benefits offering [when the UK business launched] because it wasn’t a priority for our workforce in the start-up phase,” says Hailey Wojcik, HR director for northern Europe. “As we’ve started to grow into a global business and we’ve started to refine processes and procedures, our employee profile has changed drastically as well.
“We’ve looked for more industry-related specific experience, and with that comes different wants and needs in terms of employee benefits. So balancing between our start-up-style staff and our experienced staff, trying to find a benefits offering that appeals to both, is probably one of our biggest challenges.”
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Rewarding family life
Groupon views its benefits package as a tool with which to raise its employer profile, but also to celebrate its staff. “We always say the Groupon benefits package is designed to grow alongside our staff, and to be there for all the major milestones in their lives,” says Wojcik.
“Obviously, that starts with celebrating them as individuals, and then growing alongside them as they achieve those major points in their lives.”
For example, Groupon offers a £250 bonus andtwo days’ extra holiday for employees celebrating a marriage or civil partnership, and a £250 bonus to new parents.
Under its long-term benefits support strategy, the organisation invests heavily in a training programme, partnering with training provider Lifetime, for staff with no formal skills or qualifications. Wojcik says: “We want to see ourselves as more than a job, we want to see ourselves as a career, and that’s why our benefits package focuses on growing around our staff.
“We hope that [employees] that choose to invest in us as an employer are thinking about their long-term aims, one, three, five or 10 years down the line. We aim to have benefits in place that will positively impact any individual, regardless of where they are in their personal timeline.”
Responding to staff feedback
Groupon is working hard to ensure its benefits package is fit for purpose by basing it on employee feedback from its biannual survey.
“We really take employee feedback on board,” says Wojcik. “We do employee focus groups: we want to know what staff genuinely want. The benefit of working at Groupon is more than just ‘what’s the value add on top of your paycheck?’, it’s about table football in the breakout room, the bean bags, magazines, and television [in the offices], and we offer different flexible working programmes.
“So yes, we have competitors in terms of reward and benefits, but we’re always confident that we will have a unique offering that sets us apart.”
The organisation is also striving to ensure employees know what benefits are on offer to them following a staff survey it ran at the beginning of 2013 that revealed a lack of awareness about Groupon’s reward package. This resulted in a communications exercise to increase employee awareness of the benefits.
“We found we had all these wonderful benefits, but a lot of staff didn’t know about them,” says Wojcik. “So we had to do considerable work to raise our benefits profile, but it has been really successful. It highlighted the need for us to improve our internal communications in general, and in the light of that, we’ve managed to build a stronger bond with our workforce because we’ve identified what the problem is and have actively sought to resolve it. Our head of reward, Helen Bosworth, has been incredible in working to get our benefits offering more robust.”
Meanwhile, a revamp of Groupon’s voluntary benefits platform, GSavers, has seen the proportion of employees accessing it rocket from below 10% to more than 60%.
The GSavers platform, provided by Asperity Employee Benefits, gives staff the opportunity to save money through discounts on lifestyle and retail purchases.
Groupon supported the relaunch with a communications campaign to increase staff awareness, including posters detailing the benefits it felt would be most attractive to staff based on feedback gathered from an employee focus group.
The organisation also sent staff emails and messages through its intranet site, as well as revamping staff induction training to include a bigger focus on benefits.
Employees are also sent regular alerts to remind them about the savings they could make, or the cash back they could earn, when making purchases through GSavers. “We’re interacting with staff on things they’re actually using,” says Wojcik. “It’s not just a theoretical push. That has seen a massive traffic drive to our site.
“So we are just reminding people that GSavers can actually benefit them in every aspect, not just on the big things like bikes for work or a season ticket loan. The main area we focus on is lifestyle discounts, because this does suit all areas of our demographics. On average, in just the first two quarters of this year, we’ve seen staff making savings of between £600 and £1,000.”
The final string to Groupon’s benefits bow is its internal recognition scheme, is a star-of-the-month programme that encourages staff to nominate peers for outstanding work.
The nomination is accompanied by a recommendation from an employee’s manager, and winners receive paid days off and a trophy for their desk.
Wojcik says: “It’s really about taking the chance to have peer-to-peer recognition and peer-to-manager recognition. It’s so nice to have that recognition all the way down to our frontline staff; it’s actually going to the staff who are core to our business.”
In line with its desire to run employee feedback-based initiatives, Groupon has tweaked the recognition programme to introduce runners-up, in response to staff requests for more than one individual a month to be recognised. “It’s nice to start a programme and get good feedback, but to get constructive feedback that we can act on, and then implement to the point where staff are really happy that we’ve taken their suggestions on board and implemented them has been invaluable for building trust,” says Wojcik.
Groupon will use auto-enrolment as an opportunity to review and revamp its pension scheme. In the run-up to its staging date on 1 October 2013, the organisation will be working on educating staff about pensions.
“We really want staff to understand the long-term value of pensions and how they can be beneficial to them,” says Wojcik.
Groupon will also be monitoring the progress of its benefits to ensure it is tracking employees’ needs accurately. “If we’re missing the mark on something, we’re going to be reactive to the areas that we can,” says Wojcik. “We can’t implement 100% of employee feedback because it varies so much, so it’s up to us to find that balance.
“But our process is to be proactive and progressive, constantly re-evaluating our successes and being reactive to where we are falling short, and celebrating where we are doing well.”
Groupon at a glance
Groupon was established in Chicago in 2008 as a means of connecting people with daily deals and experiences in their local area. It launched in the UK in 2010 as My City Deal, and has since branched out to offer more than just local deals with its ‘getaways’ platform.
Groupon has an employee gender split of about 51% male, 49% female, with an average staff age of 28. It has more than 10,000 employees worldwide.
As a fairly new business, it is too early to tell what the average length of service is, so for Groupon, long service stands at three and a half years, the length of time it has operated in the UK.
In its second-quarter results, published in August 2013, Groupon announced that active customers (those that have purchased a Groupon deal within the past 12 months) have grown by 12% year on year to 42.6 million as at 30 June 2013. This figure comprises 19.1 million in North America, 13.9 million in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and 9.6 million in the rest of the world.
Key business challenge
- Groupon has an online focus on ensuring that more of its subscribers can access its offerings, and connecting them with local deals. As the economic downturn continues to hit retailers, the organisation wants to be able to reconnect its consumers to the high street and revitalise global commerce.
Hailey Wojcik, HR director for northern Europe, has been with Groupon for three and a half years. Previously, she lived in Canada coaching competitive figure-skating for national competitions.
Although she did not move to the UK specifically to do so, Wojcik joined Groupon almost immediately after arriving in the country. “It has been a growth experience ever since,” she says.
Wojcik joined Groupon as a recruiting intern in 2010, and as the organisation grew and developed, so did the HR department. “I’m proud of our workforce and our staff,” she says. “We’ve grown so much in three and a half years, and that wouldn’t have been possible without having an amazing team of people on board.
“Great people make great companies. I feel the HR team has done an excellent job in seeing through that vision in finding the right people to grow our business.”
Wojcik feels her experience as a sports coach helped her in her role at Groupon. “It’s allowed me to be open to change and really take on other people’s feedback and thoughts, because we’re a team here: nothing can be done by one person,” she says. “Creating a culture where we celebrate success is also down to what my background was before joining Groupon.”
Case study: Charlotte Hunter, social media customer service co-ordinator
Charlotte Hunter is a social media customer service co-ordinator at Groupon, where she has worked for for two and a half years. She co-ordinates customer relation questions that come in via Groupon’s social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
As a working mother, Hunter values the flexible hours at Groupon. When she left work to have her baby, she received a baby bonus of £250 and a letter of congratulation.
Hunter has also taken advantage of Groupon’s Lifetime training opportunity. “I’m doing leadership and management, which will help with my career progression,” she says. “Groupon offers lots of opportunities; it wants people to have development plans.”
Hunter began her one-year training programme at the start of this year. She is given assignments each month and sees tutors in Groupon’s offices, as well as undertaking online study.
She also uses the GSavers voluntary benefits scheme, which allows her to buy items using a card and get cashback or up to 15% off her purchases. “It’s helpful to know I have that little bit extra to save or spend,” she says. “I have also joined a gym and taken advantage of the discounted rate.”
From 1 October, Groupon will be offering a pension scheme to comply with auto-enrolment legislation.
Voluntary discounted gym membership.
Employee assistance programme.
Employer-paid health cash plan, including eyecare, dental, physiotherapy, chiropractic.
Employer-paid private medical insurance for some staff.
Enhanced maternity/paternity and adoption pay.
Baby bonus for new parents.
Voluntary childcare vouchers.
A range of employee discounts available through GSavers platform.
Voluntary bikes-for-work scheme.
Voluntary season ticket loan.
Marriage and civil partnerships bonus, plus two days’ additional holiday.
Staff recognition scheme.
Fresh fruit in head office.