As one of the leading housing and care providers in the UK, Mears manages 17,000 homes for local and central government and is responsible for keeping 750,000 social housing homes in the UK in good repair.
Mears employs a diverse workforce of 6,500 employees, roughly 75% of which are frontline staff that don’t often work at a computer. As such, its HR team were looking for a reward platform that would strengthen internal communications and connect its entire workforce, no matter which department they worked in.
Housing and Care
Number of employees:
Employee reward and recognition, employee communications, employee discounts, employee wellbeing
Mears first reached out to Reward Gateway in March 2020 with a clear set of challenges. Despite having several reward and discounts programmes from various providers in place, its HR team found that employees, especially those working on the front line, were barely engaging with their core offering at all.
Along with a dispersed workforce, the task of communicating key initiatives was made all the more difficult thanks to the lack of a centralised platform. Multiple logins and confusing online portals meant that staff found it hard to access and buy into Mears’s reward programmes – and that left a serious dent in the uptake of these programmes, particularly among frontline staff.
Mears needed a platform that was effectively a one-stop shop, making it as easy as possible to browse all of its initiatives, share company-wide communications and complete key processes with ease. That would give the company a strong foundation to drive employee engagement and performance across all organisational levels.
“Before partnering with Reward Gateway, we found that less than 10% of our 4,500 frontline staff were engaging with our previous reward platforms. Now, that figure has shot up to over 60% in just over six months of using the new platform! That’s a massive seal of approval from our workforce and it’s great to see so many employees benefiting from our initiatives every single day.”
– Gary Jackson, Group Director of Marketing Communications & Customer Success, Mears
Mears quickly made it clear that achieving genuine two-way internal communications was a crucial priority for the business.
“In a strange way the pandemic has actually forced us to strengthen our approach to internal comms and engagement like never before,” adds Gary. “It seemed obvious to use the platform as a central internal comms hub through which we can share company updates, policies, procedures and risk assessments, all of which are easy to access whenever staff need them."
“Our CEO, David Miles, has even started sending out a weekly communication, something which we never even considered doing before. That has been incredibly powerful and means that frontline staff now feel like they’ve got a genuine connection with senior leaders. They now regularly use the platform to send in questions and suggestions for our senior leadership team to respond to – and that’s exactly the type of two-way communication we had always been missing,” Gary says.
Mears also worked with Reward Gateway to create two custom content portals on the ‘Mears Connect’ platform. The ‘Company News’ section houses all the main informational pieces and updates shared by management, whereas the ‘My Community’ is a dedicated forum where employees have full permission to share their opinions and stories, post suggestions for improvement and give shout-outs to their colleagues.
Reward Gateway worked with Mears’s HR team to explore different ways to reach and engage its workforce, particularly those that weren’t using a computer as part of their day-to-day role. It wasn’t long before Mears realised that while many staff didn’t work with a PC, they did often use tablets and mobile devices.
This was the perfect situation to ramp up the focus on the Reward Gateway SmartSpending™ mobile app, making it clear to staff that they could log into the platform from any location with just a few clicks. The app itself curates a wide range of employee discounts to match different demographics, including popular retailers such as Tesco, Asda, Curry’s and JustEat and complements the employee discounts programme on the Mears Connect platform.
“It’s been incredible to see the uptake of our rewards and discounts in such a short space of time,” says Gary. “We’ve had glowing feedback from staff across the board and the word has spread like wildfire throughout our frontline departments. It’s great to finally find an exciting way to incentivise staff beyond pay that also supports their financial wellbeing, particularly those working in care. Our team has made extra efforts to ensure that all our care workers understand how best to use the platform, which has definitely had an impact on engagement.”
This was just the first step, however. Gary and his team also made it clear they wanted to establish a world-class employee recognition programme that would encourage stronger peer-to-peer feedback throughout the organisation. To do this, Reward Gateway tailored an eCard system around Mears’s core organisational values, allowing staff to send a unique range of messages that reflected values such as ‘Customer Focused,’ ‘High Standards,’ ‘Role Models’ and ‘Well Done Team.’
Since first launching the platform back in March 2020, Mears has seen engagement with frontline workers rocket from 10% to over 60%. Overall, it now counts 83% of its entire workforce as active users on the platform – a figure which is continuing to increase each month.
Employees have spent a staggering £808,000 through the platform to date, saving a grand total of £88,000 in the process. These figures are testament to the fantastic effort made by Gary and his team to encourage and educate staff on how best to use the platform.
On average, more than 100 eCards are sent between staff each month, with the most popular value shared being ‘Customer Focused.'
In terms of cost savings for the organisation, Gary estimates that the decision to consolidate various platforms into a single hub has saved Mears at least £85k in operational costs so far.
“Looking at the stats, it’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in such a short space of time,” Gary says. “At the end of the day, this is a platform for our people. They own it and it’s our job to ensure every employee at Mears has a voice – and that we respond to what they need. Bringing everything into one place has had a huge impact on how we do things and now we’re in a great position to track what’s working and build on it for the future!”
increase in frontline engagement
saved by Mears in operational costs