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How Defra employees are saving £47,000 a month through Discounts

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: Discover the public sector organisation that is boosting their employees' salaries through Reward Gateway.

  • £47,000 in employee savings per month on average through Employee Discounts
  • 95% of staff are active users on the platform
  • £607,000 spent through SmartTech™ over 2 years - supporting 180 employee purchases
  • Increased employee engagement scores from 27% to 45%
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Public Services

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Number of employees:


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Number of locations:


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Platform features:

Employee Discounts, Reward & Recognition, SmartTech™, Employee Communications, Employee Wellbeing

Watch our latest video series - In Conversation with Defra

What they needed:

With a large and multigenerational workforce, operating across 17 different arms of the organisation, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) faced a challenge in offering consistent and valued benefits to each employee. They were providing several different packages, from different providers, depending on where the employee worked. Naturally, this saw some employees getting more out of their benefits than others.

When Defra’s corporate services merged across the entire department, the Employee Benefits team made it their mission to launch a benefits package that would be equitable and able to support the financial wellbeing of all of their employees, from field workers to Chief Scientists, in a sector that has seen pay restraint for over 10 years.

Through an employee survey and focus groups, they discovered that a key issue was that despite a good offering, a large number of their employees were either unaware of their benefits packages or unable to access them. The survey also helped to inform them of which benefits would be of most value to their employees. With this crucial input, Defra identified the benefits they would need to provide when seeking a new platform and were able to invest their budget in what their employees actually desired.


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How we helped:

In seeking a provider who could consolidate their benefits packages, Defra selected Reward Gateway from the KCS Framework and were able to quickly implement solutions in line with the procurement guidelines within the government.

Working with Reward Gateway, Defra created the STaR platform, a fully-branded one-stop shop for their employee benefits, easy to access via computer or mobile for staff of all ages and working from all locations. STaR (or Special Thanks and Recognition) centralised these benefits to offer easy-to-access discounts, alongside other benefits such as Reward & Recognition, SmartTech™, the Wellbeing Centre, and links back to the Defra intranet.

By using Reward Gateway’s Communications tools, the Employee Benefits team have driven uptake with seasonal campaigns throughout the year. They’ve also provided a platform for employees to regularly share stories of their savings, encouraging conversation and, in turn, greater engagement with discounts.

STaR has supported financial wellbeing through the highly popular discounts programme, as well as the provision of SmartTech™, allowing staff to access an interest-free loan for any electrical appliance purchase they need to make. With financial wellbeing a core principle for the People Team, SmartTech™ has been a supportive tool in helping employees on rainy days replace broken down essential white goods and appliances – covering more than 1,800 purchases over 2 years.

Through employee discounts, we've been able to put money back in the pockets of our people, helping them save £47,000 a month on average.

What they achieved:

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The Employee Benefits team have been delighted with the uptake of the platform, with 95% of their staff actively using the platform after launch. Such strong engagement with STaR has helped the Employee Benefits team achieve one of their main goals in putting money back in the pockets of their employees. From a business perspective, Defra conducts regular pulse surveys to assess the engagement of their workforce, and in the three years after launching STaR, their employee engagement scores increased from 27% to 45%.

Discounts have been one of the most popular benefits with Defra staff, saving them a massive £47,000 a month on average and helping their salary go further showing that the business case for STaR couldn’t be clearer.

And they haven’t stopped there either – Defra are continuing to monitor and evaluate their benefits packages to ensure usage and value for their employees remain at the forefront. Looking to the future, Defra will be working with Reward Gateway to add further employee engagement solutions to their platform and improve engagement within their workforce.

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