Royal Mail has engaged in a broad spectrum of communication channels to ensure that its 143,000 employees are well informed about the share schemes available to them, a strategy that helped the organisation to win the ‘Best employee share schemes’ category at the Employee Benefits Awards 2015.
Royal Mail offers two share schemes: free shares under a share incentive plan (Sip), with the first allocation in October 2013 at the time of the group’s initial public offering (IPO) and a second in April 2014, as well as a sharesave scheme that launched later in 2014.
Despite being a relatively new benefit, in the group’s latest annual employee survey, 64% said they felt committed to making the organisation successful as a member of Royal Mail’s share scheme. Approximately 93% of employees are shareholders.
In preparation for the IPO and share scheme roll-out, Royal Mail embarked on a communications strategy that would reach all employees, mindful that a large proportion of staff were not digitally connected at work. Ian Dockerill, employee shares manager at Royal Mail, says: “With the brilliant support of Equiniti, we went out to 107 sites in a three-week period [between the IPO being announced and coming into effect]. We think we handled almost 10,000 questions through that process. Of course, a lot of the 107 sites are 24-hour operations so we had to make sure we covered three shifts as well.”
The employer also harnessed the power of Royal Mail TV, with news items about the schemes regularly broadcast on televisions at Royal Mail’s operational sites across the country. Nick Hewer, from BBC One’s The Apprentice, starred in two videos on the topic, and a third video was produced for the launch of the sharesave scheme. These provided an element of financial education, and were complemented by other communication methods, such as a cartoon-style booklet mailed directly to employees’ homes.
Following its initial success, the organisation is now working to ensure that this momentum continues. “One, to get new joiners involved; and two, to keep the message fresh and to keep a regular drumbeat of messaging around shareholding […] so that we keep that good feeling about being a shareholder going,” Dockerill explains.