How Moonpig achieved a 98% staff retention rate

You’ve had a lousy day of going through task lists referenced by a ‘Master Task List’, far too many meetings and diabolical transport. It’s one of those days when wine o’clock arrived 3 hours early… So you pick up your stack of mail dreading bills and spam of the posted variety. Then you see it: a greeting card that changes your day entirely. A connection is made, and balance is restored to the universe. Moonpig has struck again.


Start saying “I have a Moonpig card for…”’ to anyone in the UK and chances are high that the first thing they’ll say (or sing, to be exact) is the ‘Moooonpig-dooot-cooom’ TV jingle. It was commissioned in fact by Iain Martin, Moonpig’s managing director who was kind enough to lend us 45 minutes of his time to talk about the magic of Moonpig; and shared how this once small business grew at an insane rate.

What this article is about, however, is not the steps by which the millions were made, rather it’s about Moonpig’s unique employee engagement.

People are at the core of what you do – so in conveying your vision, try to do something different

Iain said, “Other companies had the same idea as us; same technology, same business acumen. The difference is the people. Moonpig started with eight people in a small office in Chelsea in January 2006. Today, head office numbers are at 140+ and we hit sales of about £50 million last year.”

Iain is proud to have overseen the growth of Moonpig from revenues of £3m in 2006 to £46m in 2013. Yet when asked how his team felt about a newsflash in early December 2013, that put Moonpig among the London Stock Exchange’s 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain, he replied modestly.

“The team love to read it of course,” he said. “We didn’t crack open bottles of champagne, though. They’re more excited about a good story, about something we’ve done. Like cycling 400 miles for charity, or helping a lady from Denmark send a last-minute card to her sister after her credit card got cloned.”

The staff feel special, right down to their uber-expensive office chairs, popcorn machine and Ping-Pong table.  “It’s about inspiring people to create brilliant moments. It’s about our customers as they celebrate life’s journeys, and it’s also about our staff.”

Have a vision of your Dream Team – and fight to keep it

Moonpig puts a lot of effort into recruitment. A candidate will have three or four interviews and will sit Maths and English tests, primarily because they got a bit fed up with marketing people whose campaign result metrics didn’t add up.

With a small trademark laugh that you could imagine fits right in with a Moonpig TV commercial, Iain shares further: “As a fast growing company, our retention rate is quite extraordinary really. In the last two years I’ve lost two people, making our retention rate 98 per cent. I launched a full investigation; I put together a team of twelve people within the organisation, put them around a table and asked them ‘What’s going on? Why have I lost two people?’ There was some stuff around structure, there were some changes we had to make, and we actioned those quickly.”

And therein lies one of the values the company has staked ownership of: Although it is part of their anti-corporate ‘Moonpig Way’ deck NOT to take themselves too seriously, they do take it seriously when something goes wrong in the people department. They have historically treated staff attrition as if a family member had been neglected.

Expect your people to be brilliant – and reward them for it

A number of successful businesses such as Moonpig understand the value of good recruitment, but many don’t appreciate the importance of benefits.

Iain explains their ‘upside down’ bonus scheme: “If I’ve recruited correctly, then I expect them [my staff] to be brilliant. I expect them to behave around our core values and our beliefs; we review bonuses against specific objectives. Every year, our success is dependent in part on the competition, the business environment, technical capacity, and so on. But if the person does the right things to hit the business targets for their role, it is not unlikely for me to say, ‘ok you didn’t fulfill the objectives to the fullest because of x, y, z, but here’s 100 per cent of your bonus because I think you’re brilliant.’”

Moonpig also have a training initiative they call ‘Plan B’. Iain explains: “It’s all about developing yourself for your next job at Moonpig. Or your next job. For example, we do on the job training and mentoring. We’re a very young team so they learn and develop on the job. One of the people who helped sort the office out has subsequently become marketing director so there has been progression on the job.


This is employee engagement at its finest.

It’s as if the entire business of creating connections with their greeting cards has somehow infiltrated the very core of the company. Iain and the team grow their company, in part, with their genuine human connection to each other.

Iain Martin was speaking with Kristina Marie, content editor of the Build British business blog.

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