Employee Reviews

Encouraging employee reviews: An interview with Victoria Walton

Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) was recently recognised as the UK’s joint second-best employers for Work-Life balance by Glassdoor with a score of 4.9/5. The Glassdoor accolade was brilliant for the Group, however the fact the feedback and reviews on the site were directly from our staff made the award all the more special.

As Head of Resourcing and Talent, Victoria’s team are tasked with attracting high calibre candidates and nurturing their skillset throughout their careers. And, as part of the Senior Leadership Team, Victoria was actively involved in supporting GAS colleagues throughout the COVID19 pandemic and it is clear from the reviews received on Glassdoor that the support received during the pandemic led to an influx of positive feedback.

In this piece Victoria discusses her experiences of managing staff well-being during the pandemic as well as providing insight on approaching employees for feedback.

How did you ensure employee wellbeing throughout the pandemic?

As we navigated through the early days of the pandemic it became clear that the severity of the situation would affect people differently and our primary concern was for the physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of all colleagues.

As a first step the Board made the decision to ensure everyone received 100% of their salary throughout the furlough period, in the hope this would diminish any financial worries or concern about their position and livelihood.

Despite some staff being on furlough, each department or division was tasked with creating communication channels to make sure their people had continued light-hearted, social interaction from their “work family”, which became particularly important for colleagues who live on their own.

For those who worked throughout the lockdown period we made sure they were set up to succeed from home. We invested in IT infrastructure and communication platforms to accommodate home working very early on the pandemic.

When it came time for all colleagues to return to the office, we made every necessary step to ensure COVID security and through a phased return plan. We invested heavily in necessary equipment as well as purchasing additional office space to allow for strict social distancing. We have had feedback from colleagues that the steps taken allowed them to feel comfortable when returning to work which was the objective!

Should employers encourage staff feedback?

In short, absolutely. Employee reviews are necessary to ensure business practices are fit for purpose. Without feedback, we may not be aware of changes that need to be made to make the company and our colleagues’ flourish.

Sometimes, not all feedback can be implemented. However, it is important that leadership teams communicate with their teams to explain business decisions.

How should you approach reviews with staff?

The Resourcing team focus on delivering an exceptional candidate journey into GAS, and so the relationship each member of my team develops with their new ‘hire’ is often strong and enduring. New colleagues are invited to submit a review within their first few weeks, often during informal chats with Resourcing to update on their progress and happiness.

Hiring Managers for current vacant roles are also invited to encourage their teams to leave reviews, or update previous comments, so that we have relevant reviews at the top of our Glassdoor feed for the vacancies we are looking to fill.

Encouraging employees from all departments and seniority levels of the business is also crucial to paint a true picture of what it is like to work at your organisation.

What’s next for GAS?

Putting our people first will continue to be of vital importance. Our work during the pandemic has not slowed as we continue to invest in our people and in the region.

Since August, we have had a record number of new people join the Group which is fantastic given the current climate. We have also recently announced a partnership with East Durham College which will see the creation of 100 new apprenticeships. All our existing and these new colleagues will benefit from a £3m investment in our GAS Campus featuring a new state-of-the-art HQ and the GAS Performance & Development Hub due for completion in 2020.

Find out more about how GAS really does put #OurPeopleFirst, or, to read first-hand how we’ve supported our colleagues, visit our Glassdoor profile.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.