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Innovating employee benefits through collaboration

29 October 2021

Image taken from our annual staff conference where we collaborate and listen as to how we can develop the business.

To improve work-life balance and non-financial remuneration, we open channels of communication to listen to our people, collaborate, and develop a fantastic register of benefits.

At Drees & Sommer UK, we take the view that benefits must be designed around the needs of our people. This is the approach that for 10 years has found us listed as a top 50 employer across UK contractors and consultancies. An approach we are constantly looking to grow.

To help our people define what those benefits are we start by listening to each other. Asking what we would each like to see. We then develop those proposals through workshops and collaboration, talking to stakeholders across the business and benchmarking our approach with our HR team.

To successfully set this up we have open channels of communication for staff to voice how we should shape the company. Our annual conference allows us to collectively workshop improvements and cast votes on the things that matter.

We have created a non-executive Shadow-Board, which employees are invited to sit on or to use as a voice in the business. This open forum invites discussion on any matter that concerns our people, and to date, it has led to reviews and increased benefits on maternity and paternity remuneration, pension contribution, and health packages for routine services including dental, optical, and physio. We also provide BUPA cover, income protection, life assurance, wellbeing services and our annual leave offering is above statutory minimum, which also increases with length of service.

One of the biggest changes to our workplace policies has been how we’ve engaged with staff across the business to help each other through remote working, lockdown, and all the radical changes that have taken place in our professional and personal lives. We’ve been listening to our staff through surveys, engaging in questionnaires, asking line managers for feedback and we set up workgroups to workshop innovation and change.

There is no doubt it helps to have professional change managers and strategic managers in the business, so we’ve brought in that best practice to benefit our employees. Some of the actions were obvious, home working demands the same quality conditions as the office, such as office chairs and computer monitors. Balancing life on MS Teams and the changes to project delivery has been more complex, but we’d like to think we’ve got it right, for now.

What happens next will be realised through our hybrid working trial. We’ve embarked on a 6-month pilot scheme for all our people as we explore what working at the company will look like in the future. Every employee is involved in the scheme and we will adapt and evolve through this period as part of our learning process.

We would like to think that our approach to this has grown into something far greater than the idea of transactional benefits, or products that sit outside of traditional remuneration. From this, we feel that we’ve created an environment whereby staff can help shape the business and give rise to collectively critical thinking on how the company develops and the employment contracts we create with each other.

We were delighted to be acknowledged by Building Magazine in 2018 for our commitment to staff communication and connection activities which we continue to expand on to this day. Whether you are a current or prospective employee we invite you to express the benefits you think should be in place, for us to continue to make Drees & Sommer UK a great place to work.