Best Employer case study: Benefit Cosmetics, Best Employer award winner

Benefit Cosmetics is known for its glamorous vintage-style beauty products. But the quality of the global makeup and skincare brand goes way beyond the mascaras, lipsticks and blushers. 

In 2012, the Chelmsford-based company won the overall Best Employer award, and an award for innovation based on glowing staff survey results. It seems its people really dobenefit from working there, enjoying engagement techniques that are as quirky as the products themselves.

Founded in 1976 by twins Jean and Jane Ford in San Francisco, Benefit now sells in more than 30 countries. Being so well known, it could be very easy for the company to rely on its commercial reputation to attract and retain workers. However, the ‘feel-good’ brand really does ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’. It gives its people a great place to work and in 2012, their employees showed their appreciation by giving them outstanding survey feedback.

The results and awards reinforced the areas of engagement that Benefit felt it was already strong in. Employees’ positive feedback told the company that certain elements of engagement had long been successful. Other feedback confirmed that the business was on the right track in terms of focusing on the areas that needed improvement.

With the help of Andrea Lansbury, Benefit’s HR Director, we got the inside scoop on their winning engagement strategy.

Best Employer award as a recruitment tool

Although Benefit has a presence around the world, the Best Employer regional award was very valuable in terms of attracting new staff from around Essex. Andrea points out that the awards are still used in Benefit’s recruitment process; the Best Employer logos are featured on the Benefit careers website and in email signatures.

Empowering staff to be creative

Benefit’s creativity isn’t just found on the tins of lip gloss. It’s innovative and friendly approach is applied to how employees are treated. Andrea explains: “We believe that with every pair of hands comes a free brain, and we feel strongly that all employees should feel empowered to make improvements, and propose changes and ideas. We believe that by creating a fun and quirky working environment we encourage talent.”

Putting the sparkle into employee engagement

The company’s unique engagement activities are enough to make traditionalists blush!

An example is the FISH philosophy, which swims deep at Benefit. Originating in 1998 at Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market (yes, really!) this approach to engagement has grown into a corporate phenomenon. The philosophy incorporates four basic ideas that aim to have a positive impact on corporate culture: choosing your attitude, playing at work, making someone’s day and being present. People have more fun at work, which impacts their day-to-day life at the office and at home. It’s so effective that Benefit has trained its staff in this vibrant engagement strategy.

Not only that, but Benefit’s charity fundraising initiatives include the ‘Brow Arch March’ for international cancer support charity, Look Good Feel Better. In 2012 the company had fundraisers running a relay from Edinburgh to London in aid of women’s charity Refuge, and which used a giant mascara wand as the rely baton!

What’s next for Benefit? 

Since winning the award in 2012, Benefit has run a climate survey to keep track of developments, and staff will be taking part again in this year’s Best Employer survey.

Andrea says: “We have done lots of work with development and introduced some new and exciting employee benefits such as summertime working hours, whereby everyone at head office and field managers can leave work at 3pm on Fridays in June, July and August. We have also increased holiday entitlement and the amount of product that we give to employees.

“It would be great to see if this has had a positive impact,” she adds.  “We have also achieved the status of the Number One Premium Makeup Brand - it would be amazing to know whether this has also had a positive impact on people, as well as on top line sales.”

Key advice for top-class engagement

Andrea believes the key to excellent engagement is putting staff at the core of your organisation. She explains: “It really is all about your people; it’s not a cliché, they make the difference.  Whilst reward and recognition is important, the need to provide a stimulating environment, and to give challenge and development is also essential.”

And it seems that Benefit is putting the bronzer to one side as they go for gold this year’s survey. Why not join them? Enter the free 2014 Best Employer survey now.


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Written by

Lynn Walters

Lynn is a founding Director of Pure and leads Pure Executive. She has over 25 years’ experience recruiting for executive appointments, and helps east of England-based businesses with senior management and board-level recruitment. Lynn also leads our Best Employers Eastern Region initiative and Women’s Leadership Programme, both of which help companies and people develop.

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