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This Year's Judges

RAISING STANDARDS – CHAIR OF THE JUDGES’ OVERVIEW OF THIS YEAR’S AWARDS

This is my first time as a judge of these Awards and it was an honour to chair the judging process. My thanks therefore go to the all the companies who submitted entries this year and to all my fellow judges for making the judging day such a fascinating and worthwhile experience.

A significant increase in the number of entries across most categories made judging a challenging process. The judges were pleased to see increasing standards due to the benchmarks set in previous years, as exhibited by presentations at Celebrating Excellence, and a focus in the Award entries on demonstrating clearly the award-winning characteristics of employee share ownership programmes.

These Awards are designed to highlight best practice, thereby raising the quality of share plans and there were distinctive themes and trends emerging from this year’s winning submissions:

  • the importance of CEO and senior executive endorsement and involvement in plan communications (a continuing theme from last year)
  • keeping things simple
  • "after sales service" – ie employee consultation and feedback and, most importantly, to back it up with measurable data in order to shape future communications
  • increased use of segmentation – this allows companies to target different messages to different groups of employees and can be highly effective

A key feature in the Best New Plan and Communications categories is a properly planned strategy, both to present and reinforce the corporate message – this is achieved by increased used of segmentation and of new media.

There was a strong shortlist in the Financial Education category but the disappointing number of entries overall suggests that this is still a blind spot for many companies. This category is all about helping employees plan their personal finances for the future, including eventually paying for their retirement. We know that responsibility for this often falls between departments but there are strong reasons for companies both to provide this benefit and also to promote the role that share plans can play within it.

To be shortlisted for the Best Overall category requires companies to demonstrate first, why their company has all employee plans and/or the role discretionary share plans play in their pay policies; secondly how these plans are marketed to employees and finally how maturity is handled in terms of long term employee share ownership and lifetime financial planning.

The best practice bar has been set high and if you want some tips for adopting best practice in your company you will be able to hear insights from the winning companies at Celebrating Excellence on 7 February 2008.

I hope you enjoy the Awards Dinner and that you and your company will be inspired to enter next year.

Judges' Biographies

Paul Jackson – Head of Compensation, HSBC Insurance
Stuart Bailey - Manager, Financial Capability - Workplace
Julia Goldsworthy MP
Doctor Chris Jackson, PhD
Amanda Wilkinson, editor of Employee Benefits magazine
HBOS Employee Share Solutions