The two-yearly employee survey and many other minor and major signs from the shop floor revealed that Würth's HR and reward policy needed to pay more attention to individualisation. A partly flexible year-end bonus allows Würth to offer its staff a more customised remuneration package, with extra leave days turning out to be particularly popular.
The German Würth Group operates worldwide, employing 344 people in Belgium and 26 in Luxembourg. The Belux organisation employs mainly specialised account managers. Together with a network of 25 stores, the back-office workers at its Turnhout headquarters, an online store and a Würth app, they service 40,000 B2B customers in Belgium and Luxembourg. They offer a range of no less than 130,000 items to companies in industries such as wood and metal processing, construction and installation, automotive and transport.
So why did the wholesaler introduce flexible remuneration? "Different pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place", says HR Officer Hilde Van de Cruys. "Our headquarters asked us to organise our two-yearly employee survey at the beginning of 2018. Salaries emerged as one area for improvement for the Belux organisation. Another was our ability to put new ideas into practice."
"During the same period, the issue of bicycle leasing for back-office workers was raised by our Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work. Several of our neighbours in the industrial estate were doing the same thing at the time. Things also started happening internally to improve people's well-being and fitness at work. You could really feel that there was more and more need for individualisation."
Würth became more and more convinced that it should offer its staff more customised solutions in terms of remuneration. Hilde: "Our reflex was to have a chat with SD Worx about this. For several decades, we had counted on their expertise for the entire Belgian and Luxembourg payroll, while it also gave us legal support in specific personnel files."
Würth decided to make its year-end bonus partially flexible for all Belgian employees. This does not make a difference on the employer's side, but does gives employees the option to spend some of their income on the benefits of their choice.
Hilde: "We knew that the lease bike and extra leave days were always going to be selected, but we wanted to extend to five options. SD Worx has given us excellent guidance in that respect. They gave us a list of the most popular benefits in similar organisations as a source of inspiration to consider for our situation and that of our employees."
"In the end, we also included an individual pension savings scheme and a personal hospitalisation insurance contribution in the Flex Income PlanTM (FIP). SD Worx helped arrange everything for the first FIP selection date and helped answer all the questions from our staff. A number of regional information sessions were organised for this purpose. About 50 employees requested various benefits. The leave days option turned out to be particularly popular."
Meanwhile, the HR team was already preparing the next annual selection date behind the scenes. The aim was to move from five benefits to ten benefits, but HR wanted to involve the staff as much as possible.
Hilde: "We sent a survey to the employees. Benefits such as an international fuel card, a higher mileage allowance and a company smartphone were very popular. Another positive result was that the high survey response rate proved to us how popular flexible remuneration is."
"The high survey response rate proved to us how popular flexible remuneration is." – HR Officer Hilde Van de Cruys
Then coronavirus threw a spanner in the works. Hilde: "Working from home became the norm and international holiday plans were shelved. This also meant that a number of benefits were at risk of not being useful." To cut a long story short: Würth pressed the pause button for a while on everything but bicycle leasing. Hilde: "Hopefully in the autumn we can pick up where we left off."
"The journey was bumpy to say the least", admits Hilde. "But at every stage, we could rely on the expert guidance of the SD Worx team. They were able to respond so quickly and efficiently because they have access to our payroll data and know our organisation inside out. Throughout the entire process, we have also perceived that the SD Worx team knows this subject matter extremely well."
"We couldn't have imagined a better partner", concludes Hilde. "My dream scenario is still to gradually evolve towards a plan that allows employees to adjust their reward package at any time."