Flex scheme puts Toyota in pole position to meet employee needs
Employee benefits prove a winning formula through the pandemic and as the organisation transitions to hybrid working.
When Toyota GB launched a new flex scheme at the end of 2019, its objective was to ensure every employee could pick the benefits that best suited their lifestyle needs and make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Today, having played an important role in supporting employees through the pandemic, the scheme is key to attracting and retaining employees as it transitions to hybrid working.
“Although we didn’t design the scheme with a pandemic in mind, it’s clear how the core principles of easy access and choice we built the scheme on helped set us up for success, during the lockdowns and now, as the organisation adapts to new ways of working,” says Ben Beswick, HR business partner, reward and experience at Toyota.
“There’s a lot of talk about “the great resignation” as people leave their jobs in the wake of the pandemic, but we aren’t seeing any sign of that. In fact, our colleagues tell us that the company supports them well and we are now piloting hybrid ways of working for the future.”
Health and wellbeing
Back in 2019, when the team at Toyota were reviewing and planning the new employee benefits proposition, the guiding principle in the design was Toyota’s belief in the importance of taking care of its people as driving a superior employee experience.
“We put health and wellbeing at the core of our new scheme ensuring that every employee could take advantage of best-in-class private medical insurance, dental and health cash plans. This meant that when health care became the nation’s top priority our colleagues could tap into gold standard support.
Take-up of health benefits soared during the lockdowns to the point that these now top the bill as our three most popular benefits.
The quality of what we offer is such that when we checked with our brokers whether there was anything more we could do to strengthen our offering, we found that we were doing all we could to meet employee needs,” says Ben.
As the three lockdowns ran their course, the benefit of having a scheme which enabled employees to update and amend their choice of employee benefits as and when their needs change came to the fore.
“A fully digital self-service platform was at the heart of the new proposition,” says Ben.
“So not only did we have the benefits in place which could support health and wellbeing, people were free to choose what they wanted.
Although we received more calls for help and advice with benefits selection during the lockdowns than we’d expect in normal times, the vast majority of people made the changes they wanted on their own. Our new digital platform was key to providing that choice and flexibility.”
One of the big challenges for the HR team was ensuring that every employee was aware how the new scheme could support their needs as the country locked down and rode out the pandemic.
“Communication was a challenge for us. At the start of the first lockdown we issued laptops and mobiles to all staff. While this added consistency to the employee experience it meant all corporate communications were competing to be heard above increased email traffic. We had to be creative to get cut-through,” says Ben.
“We circumnavigated email and chose to cascade key information and updates through managers at team meetings. This gave us confidence that employees were receiving key comms and prompted conversations within teams about how a particular benefit helped them which in turn encouraged further take-up.
A fully digital self-service platform was at the heart of the new proposition
We also asked suppliers to produce videos to help colleagues understand key benefits - we found employees are more likely to engage with a short video presentation than longer form written comms.
To support mental health – a top priority in lockdown and now – we upped the number of mental health first aiders to sixteen to signpost staff to relevant support and increased our EAP offering to include access to online doctors.”
To monitor engagement with the scheme and take up of specific benefits, the HR team at Toyota kept a close eye on the system’s data dashboard while also gathering feedback from employees.
The positive impact of the scheme can be seen clearly in the usage of the platform since the first lockdown, where 98% of employees have logged in to check their benefits selections at least once. Optional benefits have been taken up by 94% of staff, averaging 3.57 non-core benefits per employee. Specifically, uptake in will writing as well as health related benefits surged after March 2020. In contrast, Tastecards dropped off sharply when restaurants closed.
Toyota was delighted to see an increase in its externally validated Best Companies score and its internal pulse survey. Compensation and reward are a key metric in both assessments.
Budgeting conversations with finance have become much easier as a result of the strong management information the system delivers. Previously, discussions were based on educated guess work, now they are based on hard data.
“We’re moving the way we look after our people in new and exciting ways after the pandemic,” says Ben.
“We are currently piloting hybrid ways of working which require digital solutions to support employee wellbeing and experience. We are pleased to be ahead of the game with employee benefits.
We’re really grateful for the support we have had from Edenred through the pandemic. The fact that HR didn’t have to worry about the day-to-day running of employee benefits through that time is testament to how well the portal was designed and set up to run efficiently in the background”.
Toyota GB is the company responsible for the sales, marketing, after sales and customer relations for the Toyota and Lexus car brands in the UK.
Of the 300 staff employed in the UK, 250 are based in the Epsom head office with the remainder in field-based roles.
For many years the company has enjoyed low staff turnover, the average length of service is 14 years, and high levels of engagement. Mindful the company needed to continue to be innovative and creative to maintain these impressive levels of staff engagement; the HR team led a review of its reward and benefits proposition in 2019.
HR invested time talking to employees about what benefits they expected and needed, reviewing what competitors and other leading employers were offering, and identifying solutions that would reduce scheme admin for HR.
A new scheme designed to meet these specifications was launched at the end of 2019. Three months later the UK went into lockdown.
The back story
National Account Manager, Edenred