Volkswagen Financial Services UK, which has just under 1,200 employees, has embedded gender-specific support and communication into its wellbeing benefits provision, with targeted benefits and campaigns for men and women.
In terms of specific benefits, the organisation offers employer-funded breast and prostate cancer screening every other year, for staff over the age of 40. This forms part of a wider health and wellness strategy, which includes a wellbeing centre at the organisation’s Milton Keynes base, managed by Axa PPP Healthcare and providing onsite health assessments, yoga, Pilates and reflexology. The business also gives its staff discounts at local gyms and access to fully funded onsite physiotherapy.
Mental wellbeing is also an important issue for Volkswagen Financial Services UK: in the last 12 months it has trained 29 mental health first aiders to support line managers and colleagues.
While this wide-ranging set of provisions lays the groundwork for ensuring that support is available for diverse employee needs, including gender-specific health and wellbeing concerns, it is through communication and education that the organisation reinforces its impact on staff.
For example, recognising that a large number of its employees were women of menopausal age, Volkswagen Financial Services UK set up a menopause support group in late 2017, which meets on a regular basis and encourages staff to share their own tips and experiences. The group sets its own agenda in terms of topics and the frequency of meetings, often focusing on specific subjects, such as nutrition and exercise.
Tiffany Wright, reward and benefits manager at Volkswagen Financial Services UK, says: “[The group also] helps us internally make those adjustments for colleagues, [because] we can understand how it can impact on their working lives as well as their personals lives. It’s great for us to get that feedback.”
The organisation also runs seminars about how the menopause can affect an individual, and about ways to manage the symptoms; these are open to all employees, regardless of gender, whether they want to learn more for themselves, or for a family member, colleague or friend.
In 2018 and 2019, the organisation has also hosted similar seminars targeted specifically at helping managers understand the menopause and its effect on employees.
In addition, to coincide with International Men’s Day on 19 November 2018, the organisation ran a lunch and learn session regarding men’s mental health.
In fact, Volkswagen Financial Services UK promotes an entire calendar of seminars and lunch and learn events, and has done since 2015, taking this opportunity to touch on various topics of relevance to specific groups within the workforce.
“The seminars run at least once a month and we tend to tie in the events with more general campaigns: International Women’s Day, cancer awareness, or diabetes awareness, for example,” says Wright. “April was Stress Awareness Month, and this year we took a slightly different angle and had a seminar for parents whose children were going through exams, [on] how to help them prepare for exams and manage their stress.”