Employee Benefits Awards 2011: Grand Prix

EBAwardsE.On was voted winner of this year’s Grand Prix because of its approach to tackling employees’ financial wellbeing issues, particularly in relation to debt and saving enough for retirement. Debt is currently one of the biggest problems in the UK, but in the next 10 years, the largest issue is likely to be the ageing workforce.

Using its financial wellbeing strategy, E.On successfully joined up the dots between these two issues to help staff get out of debt and focus on their overall wealth management and short-, medium- and long-term savings needs. Although there is typically much debate around who should be responsible for employees’ wellbeing, E.On stepped up to take action.

The company was moved to do so after its employee assistance programme (EAP) provider highlighted that stress at home caused by financial issues was the single top reason behind calls to the EAP. E.On’s benefits and internal occupational health teams then worked together to devise its Head Way campaign, which aimed to promote the concept of healthy minds and placed financial wellbeing at its heart.

At the centre of the strategy were garden sheds, known as headsheds, which were erected in public areas. They were used as a fun way to engage staff with the issue and provide a place where they could receive access to professionals and information in an approachable way. Employees were also encouraged to leave hints and tips for colleagues on the sheds’ walls.

The headsheds primarily targeted E.On’s call centres, which are often in socially deprived areas where the company employs high proportions of single-parent families, part-time workers and staff aged over 60. They were also open to employees’ family members to use.

As a result, the company saw a significant improvement in how staff rated their emotional wellbeing when thinking about their finances. The number of calls about stress relating to financial issues received by its EAP provider fell from 80% to 42%.

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Debt can be an all-consuming and embarrassing issue. For an employer to provide a way for staff to get support and deal with the issue is very positive. E.On did this in a way that was seen to be owned by employees. One judge said: “It took a light touch about a serious subject.”

Read more about the Award winners