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How Cox Automotive have Geared Up their approach to rewards

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Cox Automotive, the world’s largest automotive services organization, is passionate about providing their customers with the tools and resources they need to thrive in an ever-changing world. As they say on their website, “Automotive A-Z.”

The same is true when it comes to their people, offering them competitive and holistic rewards which include benefits, wellbeing and recognition. But as Vikki Gledhill, Senior Director International Total Rewards, found when joining the company, the majority of employees were unaware of what these were. Using a shop analogy, they were on the shelves, but employees weren’t looking at or buying them.

“We had a portal where information could be found, but it wasn’t engaging, didn’t reflect our culture, and usage by employees was really low as they struggled to find things,” says Gledhill.

Gledhill and the team set off to change this, bringing everything together in a portal that was more user-friendly and aligned with their culture. They named it “Gear Up” to reference the auto industry and also as it could be used in a fun and effective way in their marketing and communication campaigns.

“We brought everything together under one brand, with one logo, so that it’s instantly recognizable to our employees. It’s been so successful that it’s become a part of our language, e.g. I’m going to gear up my pension, my wellbeing,” says Gledhill.

To further educate and raise awareness of their holistic offering through Gear Up, Cox Automotive held roadshows across their 18 UK sites, calling the campaign ‘Shift up a Gear with Gear Up.’

“Our roadshows gave us an opportunity to get out and about to meet our amazing people on all of our sites, and also promote total rewards, ensuring that our valuable team members are fully aware of everything we offer that is of benefit to them and to ensure they are aware of all the sources of support that are available. Promoting the value of total rewards is more important than ever at the moment as we navigate through current economic challenges,” says Gledhill.

The roadshows were extremely successful, with the percentage of Gear Up active users increasing from 60% to 94%. Other positive results were as follows:

  • £673,000 was spent through the employee discount benefit, saving employees over £43,000 throughout the year. This is a 129% increase on 2021 results.

  • Just under 5,000 eCards were sent to employees thanking them for their work, wishing them happy birthday or other celebratory events.

  • 6,400 instant recognition awards, called “Pole Position,” were issued.

  • 259 Grand Prix recognition nominations were received for work that was done above and beyond.

  • There were 691 visitors to the Wellbeing Centre, with 4,800 page views in total..

Another benefit of the roadshows is that the HR team received valuable and constructive feedback, “nuggets of information” as Gledhill explained. For example, they heard from employees who worked out in the yards and had no access to computers, that an offline physical recognition award would work better for them. Because of this, they decided to add physical vouchers to their existing recognition approach, increasing the impact in a more inclusive and effective way.

But they haven’t stopped with roadshows, Cox Automotive is finding additional ways to create awareness around Gear Up, and all of its components. One is through additional communication campaigns, ones that signpost a range of things employees can use depending on their situation. Another is by enlisting the help of HR business partners and culture representatives, who can talk up the program on the ground. And next year, instead of roadshows their theme will be ‘Staying in High Gear,’ where they will visit sites again in a more informal way, being there to make sure that employees' questions are answered and feedback continues to flow.

Gledhill is clear that it is vital to keep the momentum going, so Cox will continue with their communication campaigns throughout the year. Next steps include promotion of Apps, further work on financial resilience, and continuing to promote recognition channels, in particular Gear Up Grand Prix, aligning with our guiding principles and defining and promoting what “good and great” looks like.


If you'd like to discuss how to improve engagement with your reward programs through branding and communication, please contact me, I'd love to help you.


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