Wheatley Group comprises of four social landlords, one care organisation and two commercial subsidiaries.
The group is named after John Wheatley, the former Glasgow MP who became known as the father of social housing. The group spans 12 local authority areas across Central Scotland, providing homes and award winning housing, care and social services to over 100,000 people.
Wheatley Group employs over 1,000 staff committed to ”making homes and lives better” for their customers. At Wheatley, ‘staff empowerment’ is not just a buzz phrase – it’s real. Through an award winning culture change programme, ‘Think Yes’, frontline staff are trusted to make decisions and design services tailored to individual customers.
The Employee Relations team at Wheatley take great pride in employee well being and offer an industry leading benefits package to employees, and where possible, flexible working arrangements.
On an ongoing basis the benefits package is reviewed to support Wheatley in attracting new staff and retaining the existing workforce. The package, which included Childcare vouchers and Bike schemes, had proved popular but wasn’t always applicable to the entire workforce. In reviewing the package, the Employee Relations team were looking for new and innovative offerings and found the Technology scheme ticked a number of boxes. Firstly, it would be of interest to most staff in the group, it would support staff to develop IT skills and the scheme was already being run by a large number of other public sector organisations.
As the result of an internal review, a tender process was undertaken through which Academia Group’s EmployeeChoice division was selected as the most suitable partner to provide the Technology scheme. This was the result of competitive pricing, experience and service levels.
The Wheatley Group had 3 clear objectives in running a technology benefit:
• Provide staff with access to the latest tech products, pre-Christmas, at discounted prices
• Enable staff to spread the cost of the products over 3 years via salary sacrifice
• To generate a ‘buzz’ around the benefits package
To support this, EmployeeChoice provided marketing and communications to employees, a secure web store for employees to place orders over a 4-week period and a helpline for employees to raise queries.
The product range offered tablets, computers and other accessories from a range of manufacturers including Apple, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. All products were provided with a carry case, 3 year warranty and anti-virus software, where applicable, to ensure the product was in working order throughout the hire agreement term
Interest in the Technology benefit was evident from the outset and was supported by product demonstrations at the onsite roadshow run by EmployeeChoice. However, results exceeded all expectations with approximately 40% of staff placing orders within the benefit window. Deliveries and stock was managed by the EmployeeChoice team with staff receiving products in time for Christmas – no doubt a logistics challenge given the volume of orders and time of year!
Employees recognised both the ability to spread payment but also the opportunity to save on Income Tax & NI through the salary sacrifice arrangement.
As an employer, the feedback from staff was excellent. Employees recognised the commitment the organisation has towards staff wellbeing. As an employer, the added benefit is reduced Class 1A National Insurance Contributions so the arrangement really does work for both parties.
The team at EmployeeChoice enabled us to run a very successful Computer Benefit scheme with a high percentage of staff taking up the offer. Their professional approach and ability to deliver products on time has led to excellent feedback from staff – we now plan to run the benefit on a regular basis.
Gillian McLaughlin – Employee Relations, Wheatley Group
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