Reward & recognition

Provide competitive rewards to attract and retain employees and recognise high achievement.

Reward and recognitionWe strive to deliver a stimulating working environment for colleagues, along with a range of incentives which improve quality of life, and give employees a stake in our success.

Recent improvements to our employee reward and recognition programme include:

Extended our private healthcare coverage: our company-funded private medical coverage extends to almost all our employees, including apprentices. We also redesigned our healthcare benefits, in consultation with non-managerial employees, introducing ‘cash back’ for everyday healthcare expenses, while retaining core private medical cover.

Sharing success: we recently increased the maximum savings limit under our employee share scheme, ShareBuy, from £1,500 a year to £1,800 a year. To encourage uptake among colleagues, we also provide one free share for every five shares bought by employees. Around one third of employees currently participate in ShareBuy, giving them a vested interest in our performance.

Recognising good performance: our bonus scheme rewards great performance at all levels of the company. Bonuses are paid to colleagues who outperform stretching targets.

Discount scheme: from childcare vouchers to a great deal on a new bike, we offer colleagues a staff discount scheme which unlocks savings on wide range of goods and services.

High quality pensions: we recognise the importance of helping employees to plan for the future and 98 per cent of our employees are signed up to our pension schemes.

Some longer serving employees are members of our historic defined benefit schemes. Newer employees can participate in our defined contribution pension scheme.

The defined contribution pension scheme has received the NAPF Pensions Quality Mark Plus and offers ethical investment options for employees.

Attracting and developing talent

We carry out regular reviews to identify where we may have future skills gaps, and develop plans to attract the right people.

Engineering and science related jobs remain the hardest to fill, due to historic skills shortages in these areas, but we are doing a lot with students and young job seekers to help address this – as detailed below.

A happy corollary of our constant need for new talent is that we create large numbers of jobs and training opportunities each year.

David Cameron PMWe try to run our recruitment programme in a way that supports the region’s wider jobs and training agenda.

For example, we have an active role in the Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership - a Government supported programme which sees employers work together to set the skills agenda and develop new approaches to training. As part of our involvement, we are piloting a programme to tackle youth unemployment in the North West.

As the lead partner along with EU skills we along with our Utility partner’s intent to offer training to 1,000 young people in our region over three years. Aimed at 16 to 24 years olds not in education, employment or training, the programme, backed by former Prime Minister David Cameron, will see utility companies deliver 8-12 week programmes covering CV preparation, work placements and mentoring – culminating with a job interview and opportunity of a full-time role.

We were extremely proud that Mr Cameron visited our Warrington HQ to launch this programme.

Other key strands of our talent attraction and development programme include:

Apprentices: we currently support 110+ apprentices – 54 of whom joined us in September 2016. Our retention rate is above the national average and all our apprentices secure a substantive role at the end of their apprenticeships.

A combination of classroom based learning, work placements and mentoring provides apprentices with a fantastic launch pad for a career in our industry. We’re pleased to have an above average number of female apprentices – currently 21 per cent – thanks to a targeted programme to attract more women into these roles.

We are an approved registered training provider and a large proportion of our apprentices are now trained at our Bolton technical training centre, allowing us to take greater control of their journeys.

Graduates: we have 50+ graduates - 24 of whom joined us in September 2016. Our graduate development programme includes a number of placements across the business, mentor support, a skills development programme and an annual, CEO business challenge. We have extended our graduate programme with a scheme to fast track graduates to future management and customer service roles.

STEM ambassadors: We have 30 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassadors who encourage students to consider careers in these under-represented areas. They attend education events throughout the year to promote careers in STEM subjects in many schools and colleges across our region.

Partly as a result of these efforts, we have seen a rise in the number of applicants to our apprenticeship programme who have studied STEM related subjects: 78 per cent in 2013, and 75 per cent in 2014. We ask for minimum of a C grade at GCSE, or equivalent.

Discovery scholarship: in support of Warrington Borough Council’s discovery scholarship, which nurtures an interest in STEM related subjects, we continue to offer work based activities at our head office to give students an insight into the many roles that rely on these subject areas.

Future tech school: we are supporting an innovative school that opened in September 2014 in Warrington, The school offers young people (year 10 onwards) the opportunity to study STEM related subjects coupled with work placements. We are one of several employers to be providing yearlong work placements for students at the new school, with the aim of provide a direct feed into our future apprenticeship and graduate programmes.

Work placements: every year, we host work experience placements for around 40 children, in school years 10 and 11. We continue to provide this opportunity, focusing on placements in business areas that relate to STEM subjects, such as IT, Labs and Engineering.

Staff development: as well as recruiting externally, we help existing colleagues reach their potential and meet the changing needs of our business, through a wide ranging development programme. Opportunities range from mentoring support to studying for an academic qualification.

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