Discover how the Department for Transport overhauled communication around its employee benefits package, resulting in a major increase in take up that is supporting employees with their wellbeing and providing help with the cost-of-living
The Department for Transport (DfT) employs over 3,800 people who are responsible for planning and investing in the infrastructure that keeps the UK on the move. As part of its employee package, DfT offers a wide range of benefits through Edenred – including childcare vouchers, gym membership, Cycle-to-Work, health screenings, dental insurance, payroll giving, retail discounts and buying and selling annual leave. The vast majority of the organisation’s employees can access these benefits easily through the Edenred Benefits Platform and app.
Historically, however, the majority of staff had not participated in the scheme. In 2021, just 15.5% of DfT’s employees used Edenred. There was also limited knowledge of the app and how this makes accessing benefits easier. A survey found that 51% of staff weren’t aware of the app at all.
Reward and Benefits Manager Nerissa Reid explains the situation when she first took up her role. “As an organisation we’re fully committed to supporting staff, including looking after their mental and physical health and financial wellbeing. We also know this enhances our employee offer in recruitment. But we weren’t doing enough to make sure our people had all the information they needed to take advantage of all the help on offer.”
The onset of the cost-of-living crisis in 2022 provided a further catalyst for action.
“We were acutely aware of the impact the cost-of-living was having on our people and across all sectors,” says Nerissa. “Our immediate objective became clear: we wanted to raise awareness of all our benefits that might help, even if in a small way, and to make sure that the message reached all our people in our seven offices across the UK. In particular, we wanted to make sure staff knew how simple accessing benefits is.”
Help for You
To achieve the necessary boost in communications, the Reward and Benefits team designed a new Help for You campaign that it launched in November 2022.
“We wanted to make better use of our existing channels, but also find new ways to reach employees with innovative, strategic and well-timed communications,” says Nerissa.
Highlight initiatives included an interactive 12 Saves of Christmas promotion, which was designed to align with seasonal financial pressures by revealing specific benefits through an online advent calendar. Nerissa and her team also supported the campaign with TikTok-style videos. The videos showed real staff using the Edenred app and were pushed cross-site through office digital screens and the intranet.
Additional activity included creating a new dedicated benefits Microsoft Teams channel that encouraged staff to share their experiences on cost savings and create a sense of community.
Cycle-to-Work provision improved following feedback from the department’s staff Cycling Network. The Reward and Benefits team added Halfords, introduced an anytime selection option and used the network to target comms and promote take-up.
Working closely in partnership with Edenred, DfT also created a virtual benefits roadshows to get the message out to all employees, as well as a new booklet detailing all benefits for new starters. The team also deployed additional offline interventions to engage the small group of employees (mainly Government Car Service drivers) who don’t have access to online resources.
Other key initiatives focused on exploiting trusted existing channels. This included:
- A monthly slot at all-staff livestreams showcasing a specific benefit.
- A regular slot in HR briefings by Martina Lewis (a take on Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert) with a weekly ‘top benefit tip’,
- Briefing leaders to hold local conversations with employees on cost-of-living
- Regular and more frequent updating of the intranet with dedicated pages for each benefit, including a feedback page for staff reviews.
The Reward and Benefits team used alternative communication methods to meet accessibility needs. This included providing a live-captioned recording of virtual sessions, as well as a range of posters designed for people living with a visual impairment.
Powerful increase in engagement
As a result of these efforts, staff engagement with the scheme and their take up of benefits has improved dramatically.
The number of employees who use the Edenred benefits platform increased by 102% between November 2021 and November 2022 – a gain of 1,018 people.
Unique users of the Edenred app also rose from 73 in April 2022 to 266 in December 2022, a 269% increase. The number of people accessing the service via desktops increased by 76%.
There is strong evidence that employees have engaged with the new communications approach. Over 800 staff have joined the employee benefit MS Teams channel since it launched. Meanwhile, 2,018 people attended the virtual benefits livestream, an increase of 102% compared to attendance at a similar event the previous year.
Providing proof that the improved comms has reached new people – there has been a big boost in benefit signups from staff registering and accessing for the first time. The total number of employees who placed their first benefit order rose from a total of 41 in 2021 to 230 in 2022, a 461% increase.
Analysis shows an increase in staff taking up benefits to support day-to-day costs, particularly with retail and grocery discount vouchers, and also benefits that support wellbeing and reduce unexpected healthcare costs. Uptake of health screening benefits, gym membership and dental insurance all doubled by the end of 2022.
“We’re delighted that the improvements we’ve made to our comms have had a direct impact on the number of people using benefits and becoming aware of what’s on offer – particularly at a time when they might need that bit of extra support,” says Nerissa.
“Through our long-term partnership with Edenred, we’ve always had a very strong offer that we’re now refining and adding to adapt to the times – particularly with enhanced retail discounts,” she adds “Edenred has also supported us to run highly effective roadshows, and produce new materials that are helping our people get a better understanding of what they can access and how easy it is. We now plan to sustain our efforts and look forward to seeing engagement increase even further next year.”