"The salary sacrifice model seems to fit quite well with what we do for people in looking beyond just their salary to what else we can add and how else we can keep people engaged," explains Lexington people manager Emma Langford.
The catering firm has 650 staff based at 50 locations predominantly in London and the south east. And it has used its salary sacrifice benefits, along with the overall company approach, to significantly buck industry trends in staff turnover.
“The catering industry has quite a high people turnover – an average of about 40% – but for us it’s just 12% and it’s even less than that for mangers, so we are seeing the benefits. And the schemes we have in place really contribute to that and add to that whole approach,” she adds.
The business was established 10 years ago and still has the original board of directors very much involved in its running. One of the intentions when the business was set up, Langford reveals, was to make its approach to people a real point of difference. Lexington has been recognised for this philosophy and has appeared in the top 100 companies list and Investors in People awards.
“So people are really at the heart of what we are trying to do and everything else falls around that. The concept of salary sacrifice just complements our approach and adds to the feeling of getting them engaged and loyal to the business – and it has been recognised that especially in London and the south east that the cost of living is very high, especially in hospitality where salaries aren’t really high,” continues Langford.
“We do apply the London living wage, but using salary sacrifice just means we can help them to offset the cost of living with childcare vouchers and cycle to work. The cycle to work scheme also adds another level in terms of employee welfare, work-life balance and wellbeing and is also aligned with how we want to look after our people.”
At present, the firm operates a salary sacrifice pension scheme along with the aforementioned childcare voucher and cycle to work schemes. And it seems the working population fits this arrangement well.
“Cycle to work is something that there’s been huge demand for in this industry,” says Langford. “And the average demographic of our workforce is early 30s, living in London and the south east. Lots of them have families so childcare vouchers are important for that and they are also into healthy lifestyles and healthy eating, so cycle to work covers that side too. So there’s definitely a demand for it.”
There are no plans to expand this offering at the moment, although Langford doesn’t rule this possibility out. However, with no demand from employees for anything further, it appears such a move could be unnecessary.
The company is also one of those that has decided to leave its enrolment window open permanently. And reaction to the schemes by employees has been positive. Feedback comes through entry into the Top 100 company awards and the Investors in People awards which include employee interviews, and not just surveys.
“We’ve managed to retain our gold status and while there are other things influencing that too, this really complements it,” Langford concludes.
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