Discovery Networks tunes in to employee health

Over the past two years, Discovery Networks has grown its UK organisation through a number of business acquisitions that have resulted in an increase in the size of its workforce and in the number of benefits offered to staff. 

Discovery Networks

Driving growth is one of the pay-TV programme organisation’s key business goals. This has seen it take risks to launch new channels and make strategic acquisitions, while maintaining and growing its flagship brands, the Discovery Channel, TLC and Quest.

The organisation has had to rethink its benefits offer as it seeks to provide something for everyone, introducing the Discovery suite of benefits, where appropriate, to newly acquired organisations, which include Nordic broadcaster SBS and Italian broadcaster Switchover Media.

Roland Baskeyfield, international compensation and benefits manager at Discovery Networks, says: “We have certainly changed our thinking in the light of acquisitions. What we found when we harmonised benefits was that an existing package was not as advantageous as it had been.

“We have done a great deal of work to understand how benefits compare in [acquisitions’] existing cultures and we look to see how they stack up against the Discovery suite of benefits. Over a period of time, we have had to phase in different benefits to provide greater equality and clarity across all parts of the Discovery Networks family.”

Medical and wellbeing centre

With an enlarged workforce, the organisation has put a lot of focus on healthcare and wellbeing. As part of its goal to grow its benefits offering, in October 2014 it opened a medical and wellbeing centre at its London headquarters, Discovery House, for more than 1,300 employees.

The new centre, managed by Nuffield Health, gives staff access to on-site medical professionals, including a doctor, nurse and physiologist. Services on offer include GP consultations covering in-depth physical health and emotional wellbeing, clinical diagnosis, health advice, minor surgeries and onward referrals.

But the challenge for Discovery Networks has been to introduce new benefits, such as the medical and wellbeing centre, while keeping its benefits spend unchanged.

Jeanell English, global lifeworks and inclusion manager at Discovery Networks, says: “We have grown so much as a business over the past year, which is exciting, but it also means we have a lot more employees to look after in terms of the benefits we offer them.

“While that is a challenge and an opportunity in itself, as budgets remain the same, it becomes even more important to understand what is important to our employees and deliver on their requests.”

Group of specialists

To ascertain its employees’ needs, the organisation uses data from employee testimonials and surveys.

Also, its HR team is part of an external group of reward and compensation specialists working in HR within the media industry. This group enables Discovery Networks to share information about the benefits offered by other organisations in a similar field, which helps it to benchmark the benefits it offers.

Baskeyfield adds: “We want to ensure that what we have in place helps drive the philosophy of being a market-leading organisation and a great place to work. Sitting alongside a group of media reward and compensation managers allows us to share information and ideas, while gaining insights into what other organisations do for their employees.”

Discovery Networks’ most successful use of such data was to inform the design of its health and wellbeing strategy, with data giving a vital insight to help tackle stress in the workplace. The organisation works closely with its private medical insurance (PMI) provider, PruHealth, to furnish regular reports, which are anonymised, to help it see what health claims are made by staff.

Stress awareness campaign

After this data highlighted stress as an issue for some employees, the organisation decided to address the issue proactively. In October 2014, it launched a stress awareness campaign to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. This included initiatives such as workplace yoga classes and time-management courses.

“While it is all anonymised, we do see trends that are work-orientated,” says English. “We then look to see what interventions we can put in place to combat and support employees, the stress awareness campaign being one example. Demographic data also plays a role in shaping our health and wellbeing strategy. You can also look at employees’ age and the male-female split.”

Because of this approach, Discovery Networks’ global employee survey continues to show that staff have high levels of engagement, scoring 93% in 2014. Also, 90% of staff understand the benefits on offer, and 88% rate Discovery’s benefits highly. In July, Discovery Networks was named one of Britain’s Healthiest Companies.

Baskeyfield adds: “The health and wellbeing of our organisation is at the forefront of everything we do and roll out. High engagement levels are certainly helped by the array of benefits on offer, and have seen us come second in Britain’s Healthiest Companies two years running.”

Discovery Networks at a glance

Discovery Networks is a pay-TV programmer that reaches three billion cumulative subscribers across 220 countries and territories a year. It has 11 channel brands across the UK and Ireland, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Quest and ID. It screens factual and entertainment programmes, which reach 23 million unique viewers each month.

It has more than 1,300 employees in the UK, with a gender split of 50% male and 50% female.

Business objectives impacting benefits

  • Continuing to drive growth through acquisitions.
  • Reducing stress within the workplace.
  • Winning the business case for benefits spend. 

Career histories

Roland Baskeyfield

Roland Baskeyfield, international compensation and benefits manager at Discovery Networks, has been with the organisation for more than 18 months. He has played a major role in the launch of an enhanced, market-competitive portfolio of benefits and compensation arrangements for a newly acquired part of the business, where the existing offering was more basic.

Before joining Discovery Networks, Baskeyfield held similar compensation and benefits manager roles at Kellogg and BAE Systems.

Jeanell English

Jeanell English joined Discovery Networks in January 2013 and has worked in the US and the UK as global lifeworks and inclusion manager.

Before joining Discovery Networks, English was HR leadership development programme and project manager at Lockheed Martin. At Discovery, she has played an integral role in the opening of its on-site medical and wellbeing centre. She says: “It is a great opportunity for global collaboration with broader life-works and inclusion teams to introduce a new resource directly tied to supporting the health and wellbeing of our employees.”

The Benefits

Group personal pension plan.

Work-life balance/family-friendly policies
Extensive flexible-working arrangements for all staff.
New family support.
Childcare and eldercare assistance.
Adoption assistance
Summer working hours.

25 days plus bank holidays as standard.
Three additional discretionary days over the Christmas period.

Voluntary benefits
Retail discounts.
Childcare vouchers.
Bikes for work.

Share schemes
Sharesave scheme.

Healthcare and wellbeing
On-site medical and wellbeing centre.
Mindfulness coaching and restorative meditation sessions.
Psychological and emotional wellbeing workshops (meditation and stress management, for example).
One-to-one wellbeing coaching.
Employee assistance programme (offering one-to-one and online advice in nutrition and psychological wellness).
Employer-funded private medical insurance for all staff.
Dental care.
Subsidised massage and reflexology.
On-site flu vaccinations.
On-site gym, 50% subsidised membership.
Range of health-related events.

Group risk
Life assurance.
Group income protection.

Other benefits
Fresh fruit.
Season ticket loans.
Charitable giving.
Incentive pay/performance-related pay.