Power ahead with benefits that boost staff health and wellbeing

Electronics firm Toshiba UK is a health-focused employer that uses employee benefits to support the fitness and wellbeing of staff

The key focus of the benefits scheme at Toshiba UK is to make sure that staff are engaged and healthy.

To this end Toshiba provides a range of health and wellbeing perks for its 700 UK-based staff through a flexible benefits scheme, which was introduced in April 2001 and refreshed in January last year. Employees can pick and mix benefits to suit their lifestyle and ongoing wellbeing needs. Staff can select different levels of medical insurance to suit their circumstances and even extend cover to family members. Other available benefits options such as childcare provision, additional pension contributions, and extra holidays also contribute to the wellbeing of staff from a more general perspective helping them alleviate the stresses and strains of everyday life, whether financial or otherwise. The options available in the flexible benefits scheme are based directly on employee feedback as Toshiba conducts regular surveys to measure staff satisfaction with the programme.

The company also operates a work-life balance policy which forms an important part of this broader approach to health and wellbeing. Flexible working is offered on an individual basis and all staff are provided with the mobile working technology they need to work from home. Just over 30% of employees work one full day or two half days at home. Job sharing, compressed working weeks and part-time working are also options.

We have found that when working from home, staff put in 110% to make it work for them and the business. Parents particularly benefit from this as they need flexibility in their work schedule to take care of children. Flexible working has also helped with staff retention as it has enabled a number of mothers to return to work after maternity leave.

Providing for the emotional wellbeing of staff however goes beyond offering flexible working opportunities. At Toshiba, managers are sent on training courses to help them identify stress in the workplace and provide relevant support to staff. The company has also undertaken a comprehensive stress ‘risk assessment’ which revealed the main contributors to pressures on staff within the business and helped HR determine how best to manage them.

Toshiba does its best to promote a healthy lifestyle across the workplace. In the past the company has held a Wellness Week focused around three themes – stress, nutrition and exercise. A range of activities and health checks were organised for employees. They could attend workshops on coping with pressure, sign up for a chair massage and take advantage of free fruit. One-to-one sessions with a dietician were also arranged. These proved so popular that the company provided additional telephone sessions.

The company also uses its annual conference to hold health-related events and hand out healthy goody bags. Other strategies used to promote wellbeing include health competitions and a cycle-to-work scheme, which produced a take-up rate of more than 5%. Toshiba’s staff canteen also offers a choice of healthy dishes. We are considering including an option for tax-free meals and vending in the staff canteen within the flex scheme which is due to be updated in April.

Toshiba UK’s investment in the welfare of its employees has definitely paid off. Staff retention is consistently above the industry standard and the company has held its Investor in People status since 1994. It has also received an award for being the ‘Healthiest Employer in the Southern Counties’ region as part of the 2005 BBC Big Challenge Health Works Awards and recently won a prize of a free gym worth £30,000 in a competition for the healthiest workplace organised by a healthcare provider. The gym has taken the place of a smoking room and is staffed by a personal trainer who helps staff design their own diet and exercise regimes.

Susan Steven is head of human resources at Toshiba UK


Best practice tips

  • Look at benefits in terms of value to staff wellbeing.

  • Get regular feedback from staff and update the benefits to reflect this.

  • Hold events and communicate benefits regularly to raise awareness of what is available.

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