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Helping National Grid with the rapid, post-acquisition rollout



National Grid is an energy company operating in the UK and the US. The company play a vital role in connecting millions of people to the energy they use. The company also enables the innovation that is transforming the energy system, through continually seeking ways to make the energy system cleaner, embracing a critical role in creating a clean, fair and affordable energy future. And as part of that commitment, National Grid provides highly competitive benefits to its workforce, including access to all-employee share plans that enable colleagues to become shareholders. Following the acquisition of UK network operator WPD (NG ED), EQ worked with National Grid to ensure the smooth roll-out of Sharesave plan benefits to all 7,000 new employees within just two months.



In 2021, National Grid announced three transformational transactions including the £7.8bn acquisition of WPD, the UK’s largest electricity distribution network operator. A subsidiary of the US PPL Corporation, WPD had nearly 7,000 UK employees. No broad-based employee share scheme had been offered, so the majority employees had not joined a share plan and were not familiar with share ownership. Working closely with National Grid, we wanted WPD employees to share in National Grid’s success through share plan participation.

Sharesave has been offered to National Grid employees for 32 years. Take-up is well above industry averages, with 68% of employees participating. 2021 and 2022 maturities saw 70% and 80% of participants retaining shares – and 40% of employees also participate in SIP, 36% retaining SIP shares for more than five years.

The latest Sharesave launch was scheduled for shortly after acquisition, so a key decision had to be made as to whether it was the right time to invite WPD employees to participate. National Grid’s Directors and CEO were all keen to drive the “One” National Grid culture and pushed to have all WPD employees invited to join the Sharesave journey as soon as practicable. However, there was concern about how WPD employees would react to being invited to “buy shares” so shortly after the acquisition. Would there be enough trust among employees to make it a successful launch? And if take-up was low, would that set a trend for low take-up in the future?



We worked closely (and very quickly) with National Grid to produce a paper examining key issues including:

  • The approval process needed to extend invitations.
  • Whether WPD’s payroll would be ready to process deductions.
  • The time required to change invitation documents and include paper-based documents. (National Grid employees had corporate email addresses with the usual launch through online channels. By contrast, WPD had a high percentage of operational staff, with less than 2% of employees having corporate email addresses and internet access highly limited).
  • The time required for collecting eligibility data and changing administration processes to include WPD.
  • And most importantly, could the plan be a success in terms of engaging WPD employees and achieving good take-up levels?


Various key stakeholders considered the issues. All agreed that, with clear actions and timescales, the launch could be managed successfully – although significant changes would be required to enable the use of both online and paper communications.

Also, effective engagement meant changing both the message and tone for the two audiences, with a much stronger focus on Sharesave’s benefits and features (including educational FAQs) for WPD employees. And that messaging was to come from both John Pettigrew (CEO of National Grid) and Phil Swift (President of WPD), who WPD employees knew well. His video endorsement was key to providing employees with the confidence to join.

After a careful review, and with three weeks to launch, National Grid’s Board approved the plan. The communication plan included the following:

  • Update from Phil Swift sharing the news that WPD employees would be invited to join Sharesave, along with a video and link to the new microsite (which included information about the four steps to save, how savings build up, how to apply, key dates, FAQs and calculator).
  • Invitations issued (by email and paper), signed by John Pettigrew. Paper invitations included a QR code to streamline access to the microsite resources.
  • Two reminder emails issued, along with a cascade of information.
  • Information on the intranet and Yammer provided employees with an opportunity to engage and discuss Sharesave.
  • Employees could apply online through the employee portal or by phone.


The outcome not only far surpassed industry averages, but also National Grid’s most ambitious expectations. 70.2% of WPD employees joined Sharesave for the first time, an outstanding outcome at any time but especially so soon after acquisition.


of WPD employees joined Sharesave for the first time

As National Grid and NGED (formerly known as WPD) continue to integrate, all our employees play an important role in our success and working together helps achieve our vision. We wanted our NGED employees to feel part of National Grid and become shareholders. Inviting them to join Sharesave was an important step towards that. We are delighted with the take-up ensuring the launch was a resounding success.”

Rupal Patel, Group Head of Reward




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