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Smiths Group plc's Successful SAYE Launch During COVID-19

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Over the last few weeks, we have spoken in-depth about the considerations businesses need to take into account when launching a successful employee share plan in the current environment.

Smiths Group is well known for achieving a good take-up on their annual Sharesave launch, seeing an average of over 650 employees (45% of those eligible) joining year-on-year.

However, with this year's launch falling during April, the peak of the pandemic, they were facing two big decisions:

A) whether now was the appropriate time to launch

B) How to maintain good engagement with many employees now working remotely or on new shift patterns

The concern was that with the UK economy in crisis and some employees worried about their household income, take-up might suffer. Smiths Group decided, however, that by continuing with the launch, it would increase motivation and engagement amongst colleagues, and reinforce positive messaging about the Group's future prospects.

The major challenge was then how to quickly adapt their communication approach to accommodate the new working environment. Typically, Smiths Group would run various communications, including internal emails, workshops and drop-in sessions.

This also had to be adapted to suit the current situation, meaning that workshop and drop-in sessions were replaced by webinars across the morning, lunchtime and afternoon. This catered for the majority of colleagues, including home-based workers, those on shift patterns and those still working in factories with over 180 participants across the webinars.

The launch proved a major success with a 54% take-up and total savings of £176k per month (a 56% increase in savings from 2019).

"Planning for our annual Sharesave launch in April normally begins at the start of the year," said Laura MacAndrews, Assistant Company Secretary at Smiths “and so when the potential impact of COVID-19 became apparent, we were already well progressed.

We discussed internally whether or not it was appropriate to continue to offer the Scheme for 2020, but agreed that opportunities for colleagues to feel engaged with, and supported by, Smiths were more important than ever."