Fleet management should sit within HR if employers want to drive the best return on company car provision, according to experts at this year’s HR debate at Fleet Management Live.
Too often, they argued, traditional fleet managers focussed on managing costs rather than the employee experience of the receiving the benefit.
Instead, Brian Cooper, a senior manager at professional services firm EY, told visitors to the show that HR should own the policy.
“There is still a role for the fleet managers, but in terms of delivering the benefit it should sit within HR,” he said. “HR is far better positioned and experienced to be able to deliver the drama required for the benefit being provided.”
It was a focus on improving the employee experience which drove huge gains for high street retailer DFS. Andrew Stephenson, a former HR director at DFS and now HR and customer director at Lookers, manged to cut fleet costs by £1 million, reduce CO2 emissions by 25% and double employee engagement during his seven-year tenure with the firm.
Stephenson told delegates at the debate, hosted by Calum Di Lieto, editor of event partner HR Grapevine, if you want to offer consumers a world class experience you have to be world class with your employees, and that included company car provision.
He introduced a wider vehicle choice by ditching a solus badge deal and by working with his lease provider delivered an online platform which treated employees like consumers.
He also spoke to local dealer groups to ensure the handover experience was improved to give employees a sense of ownership of the vehicle.
Stevenson is convinced that if he had approached the fleet overhaul from a procurement perspective he would have saved money and driven other improvements. However, by approaching it from an HR perspective, he argued the impact was much more dramatic.
“That’s why I say HR should run fleet. But if it doesn’t, fleet managers should take a much more people-centric view,” he said. “Stop thinking of the company car as a laptop; start thinking of it as a real emotive benefit for your employees.”