Brands2Life impressed the judges for its holistic approach to rewards and benefits.
As a result of regular staff forums, question-and-answer sessions, and account director and account executive feedback groups, the agency can react quickly to the latest employee needs without waiting for the usual annual survey.
The most-valued benefit is Vitality Health Insurance. Alongside private healthcare cover, much-prized 'softer' benefits are linked to health and wellbeing. These include free drinks at Starbucks for taking a certain number of steps per week and discounts on certain types of travel and gym membership. The offers update regularly; for example, since the COVID-19 outbreak took hold, there have been offers around exercising from home.
Judges were impressed by Brands2Life's new sustainable travel benefit for staff who want to avoid air travel on their annual leave. It offers two days extra paid leave to allow for the extra time it takes to travel sustainably.
In addition, Brands2Life's Life Loans scheme has been extended, if needed, to cover the increased cost of sustainable travel. The Life Loans policy offers interest-free loans to help manage the costs of living in London. Loans can be used for home-rental deposits as well as sports and arts season tickets and home technology.
The agency's "flexible" sabbaticals policy also won over the judges. This offers two months at half pay or one month at full pay to staff after four years' service, and then one month at full pay at eight years, which is repeated at subsequent four-year intervals. Alternatively, staff can opt to take an extra month's pay instead. Over the past three years, 15 staff have taken a sabbatical.
Other benefits include 'Souper Saver' pre-payday lunches and free twice-weekly lunches in January, to help when money is mostly likely to be tight.
Elsewhere, 20 per cent of profit is spent on staff bonuses.
Highly Commended: Hotwire
Hotwire was a very strong contender in this highly competitive category.
The agency's sabbatical policy offers three months' leave at half pay or six weeks at full pay. Alternatively, staff can opt for a "Sabbatical Alternative" of six weeks' full pay as a one-off bonus. Eight employees have taken a sponsored sabbatical in the past three years.
The agency's "Thoughtful Working" scheme allows staff work wherever they like, as long as they are accountable.
Daily meditation and weekly yoga sessions are available – recorded, so they can be undertaken at a time that suits, which is especially useful amid the coronavirus restrictions. Hotwire also pays for a Headspace app subscription – 80 per cent of its UK workforce are signed up.
Among the other benefits are: private medical insurance; membership of a professional body; enhanced pension contributions; and pension advice.