Stocking a treasure chest full of benefits for The Entertainer's employees

The story so far

The Entertainer Ltd. is the largest independent toy retailer in the UK, operating over 140 stores across the nation. Starting with one toy shop in Amersham, back in 1981, the organisation has grown continuously ever since.

The Entertainer shop assistant cheering

What’s the problem?

Jon Savage, Head of People at The Entertainer, has been with the company for 26 years. Jon looks after payroll, HR and recruitment and, as his title suggests, people are at the centre of both his own and The Entertainer’s values. Jon has seen some huge changes in his years with the organisation, not least how essential employee benefits have become in order to help attract and retain the best talent. We’ll let Jon tell this story in his own words…

“We’ve grown quickly as an organisation and found ourselves competing with bigger companies more and more. We were definitely looking at making our benefits package more exciting. It was traditional, with holidays, pensions and staff discount in our stores, but the new package is far more attractive. The new package is something we tell people about at interview, so it’s a good way to get people in the door – and it helps with retention.

“Often in retail, employees are lower paid than in other industries, so we really wanted to offer our staff discounts they could take advantage of, and help them save money so they can spend their earnings on other things. But with 140 locations, all over the UK, one our challenges is reaching a dispersed workforce. Yes, we wanted to offer more, but we had to have something that people could access from anywhere.”

The Entertainer Lego promotion

What we did

Once again, Jon tells it best. Take it away!

“We use Sodexo to provide us with an online portal, which includes a comprehensive employee benefits offering that features salary sacrifice, childcare vouchers and a huge variety of discounts.  Our bespoke version is called ‘Jack’s Treasure Chest’, and houses all the benefits in one place. Sodexo lets us bolt on extras to the platform too, so we can promote our own benefits. That way our employees can find all the Sodexo benefits and The Entertainer benefits in one place.

Previously, we’d had a basic offering, but the comms method was very paper-based. The intranet was focused on stores, but not on communicating the benefits. This was an opportunity to bring all the benefits into one place and overlay it with discounts and salary sacrifice. We already knew employees liked cycle schemes and childcare schemes, but we wanted to offer more without putting the onus on our payroll team. Fortunately, the behind-the-scenes hard work is done by Sodexo for us.

“Budget was a big consideration. Any employee benefits programme had to be good value for money and beneficial for our employees. We looked at three solutions: one very luxury offering, and one fairly similar to Sodexo. Choosing Sodexo was simple – the breadth of discounting and the options for employees were just better. They had more than anyone else, with reduced price cinema tickets, discounted holidays and much more,all in one place. It was really painless to set up too, we just had to provide artwork and Sodexo did the rest.

“The next challenge was making sure people understood what was on offer – and knew how to register. We don’t rely solely on email comms, and Sodexo put together a plan which involves loads of different touch points to keep employees engaged. There are posters which we have in the store, bifold packs which we give in starter packs, and info and inserts which we include in employee handbooks and pay review letters. We’ve worked with Sodexo on loads of ways to keep employees engaged – last year, our Sodexo account manager, Nicky, came into the office and did a walk-in workshop for all employees with prizes and freebies, and we’ll run this again in August. Nicky has also attended manager conferences to promote Jack’s Treasure Chest– in the last one she ran a competition where assistant managers had to go back to store and encourage staff to look at the benefits by finding answers within the portal, with the winners getting their hands on a terrific prize.

“Sodexo run competitions on the platform too, and any staff registered to receive the comms can enter simply by using one of the online services. One of our staff won a Fitbit before which added another layer of reality to it.”

The Entertainer shop front

Working with Sodexo

How did Jon find working with us? We’ll let him tell you…

“At the start, we knew we wanted to offer more salary sacrifice options than just cycles, and the advice we got from Sodexo in the initial discussions was brilliant. Being able to discuss our options with people who knew what they were talking about is invaluable.

“Everyone we speak to about Jack’s Treasure Chest thinks it’s really good – we’ve had workshops and conferences, and even ask about it in exit interviews. The portal has been consistently well received and we’ve never had any negative feedback. Employees can always call the customer helpline, which is looked after by Sodexo, if they have any queries so it’s all very slick and dealt with quickly.

“Our account manager Nicky is fab, and it’s been great to work with her consistently rather than having to chop and change between different people. Nicky’s been with us all along and nothing is too much trouble – she helps us with artwork and comes to meetings- and while she encourages us to look at more options we never feel pushed.  It’s a very comfortable partnership.”

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