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How wellbeing at Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) is proactively promoted

25 October 2019

We face the same health concerns as many employers: from day to day lifestyle issues (unhealthy habits and little exercise), to musculoskeletal and mental health conditions, all often leading to high levels and/or long-term periods of absence.

Traditionally, employer-led healthcare and wellbeing schemes focused on a ‘sick bay’ reactive approach providing help and assistance at the point it is required. In 2015, we took the decision to move away from this, demonstrating our commitment to colleagues’ wellbeing by being much more proactive.

Employee wellbeing isn’t solely the responsibility of HR. However, we have a role in providing and communicating to employees the tools and resources available to them so they are encouraged to take responsibility for their own physical and mental health and achieve positive health outcomes.

Our on-site wellbeing centre opened in 2015, providing colleagues with access to:

  • wellbeing assessments (blood pressure, blood cholesterol, glucose and body fat) that help highlight problems which may otherwise go unnoticed
  • company-funded physiotherapy
  • flu-jabs
  • education and support (lunchtime seminars, walking clubs, Fitbit hire, a wellbeing library)
  • massage
  • reflexology
  • podiatry
  • fitness classes (including high-intensity interval training, yoga and pilates)

Very often, it is small and practical lifestyle changes that can have the biggest impact. Two years ago, we introduced the VWFS.

Steps Challenge, a simple competition lasting four weeks, which aimed to get everyone more active. It worked – collectively the winning team walked 1,800 miles! Many participants continued to keep up the pace and maintain their new walking routines.

It is also important to understand and listen to the needs of a diverse workforce. We identified that more than a third of our female workforce is above the age of 40, with one in four of that group experiencing severe menopause symptoms that often lasted more than five years. We realised this was having a huge impact on their working life and have since run a series of sessions aimed at both employees and line managers covering general menopause awareness and to increase understanding of how women can be supported. We have also created a menopause working group providing colleagues with an opportunity to network and explore ways in which the company can further improve their day-to-day working life.

We aim to listen to our workforce and understand their health needs via surveys and our Employee Forum, and respond accordingly.

Mental health is one of the biggest issues that we face in the workplace today. To help break down stigma and build a supportive and open culture, we have recruited and trained 15 volunteer Mental Health First Aiders. They have been well received across the business so we are increasing their number to 30 by the end of June. These volunteers not only provide support to colleagues and line managers, they are helping to shape future initiatives based on their shared experiences.

We know ongoing and regular communication is essential, therefore we ensure our programme is aligned with external campaigns such as World Mental Health Day or National Heart Month. It helps boost levels of engagement. We recently used Learning at Work Week to promote the internal courses and resources we have available on mental wellbeing including on resilience, coping with stress and mental health first aid.

Wellbeing at VWFS is far more than a tick box exercise, we have integrated it into all aspects of our business from our physical environment to our policies and benefits. Our commercial success is based on the dedication and skill of our workforce so ensuring colleagues feel supported is vital. Our integrated approach is helping us to create an energised, resilient and motivated workforce for today – and tomorrow.

Tiffany Wright, Reward and Benefits Manager, Volkswagen Financial Services (UK) Ltd