Employee Benefits Awards: closer look at nominees

They’re deemed the providers of the Best Employee Share Schemes; we look at why…

Following the announcement of this year’s nominees for the Employee Benefits Awards, five well-known companies have been recognised as the best providers of employee share schemes in the UK.

These companies are Asda, BT Group, DS Smith, Royal Mail and Unilever; large, successful companies which are considered mainstays of the UK’s business landscape. What are they doing that has led to their peers and employees nominating them for the ‘Best employee share schemes’ category at 2015’s awards? We take a look at three household names whose employee share schemes are working for them and their employees:


Part of Walmart and the employer of over 2.2 million employees worldwide, Asda operates a Sharesave plan (also known as a Save As You Earn, or SAYE) for all its employees. The scheme provides a flexible savings opportunity, with an option to buy shares in Walmart at a 20% discount (SAYE schemes currently allow participants to save between £5 and £500 per month). These shares can then be sold at a later date, turning savings into potential profit. The giant employer offers all its employees the chance to employees and customers alike the opportunity to ‘be better off with Asda’.

BT Group

BT provides several share scheme opportunities for their employees, including those working with participating subsidiaries. They include a profit share arrabgement, an employee share investment plan and a Sharesave plan.

The largest of BT’s employee share schemes is the Sharesave, which, like Asda’s Sharesave, allows employees to save on a monthly basis with the chance to exercise options and buy shares in the future. Employees share options are exercisable after a three or five-year savings contract.

BT’s Employee Share Investment Plan (ESIP) came into operation in 2001 and gives employees in the UK the chance to purchase shares on a monthly basis out of their pre-tax salary up to a maximum of £125 per month. They also provide an Share Incentive Plan (SIP) and Retention Share Plan (RSP) whereby company shares are acquired by an employee share ownership trust and are conditionally awarded to participants.


Voted the world’s third most in-demand employer by LinkedIn in 2013, Unilever are the giants behind brands such as Dove, Hellmann’s, Bertolli and Vaseline, to name but a few.

Like Asda and BT Group, Unilever take advantage of the popular and tax efficient Sharesave scheme, allowing employees to save a certain amount each month and to use their savings (if they choose to do so) to exercise options and buy shares in the company at a later date. The Unilever Sharesave scheme has been operating since 1985 and was implemented in order to get their employees to focus on the wider business and the company’s performance.

Of Unilever’s 16,500 UK employees approximately 67% take part, evidencing the demand from employees to be able to ‘buy into’ the company they work for; its culture and its future. Details of Unilever’s full UK benefits packages can be found online on their careers pages.