BMW (UK) won the prestigious Grand Prix award at the Employee Benefits Awards 2013 and also took the prize for ‘Best stress management strategy’.
The car manufacturer, which was shortlisted in three categories, was chosen for the top award by the judges because of the steps it took to support staff mental wellbeing.
BMW implemented a stress management programme in January 2012 as a result of staff feedback. The support service, run by The Priory Group, helps employees deal with personal problems that might harm their health and wellbeing and affect their work.
Brian Cunningham, general manager for insurance and risk at BMW (UK), said: “First and foremost, we identified that there is a growing issue, not only at BMW but in society as a whole, with regard to stress.
“Increasingly, organisations are seeing claims in relation to stress and [employees] are going off with long-term absence because of stress. We wanted to get in there early and deal with the matter before it became an issue for BMW.”
The organisation set up an on-site therapy room that is available to staff free of charge and does not require a doctor’s referral. It also offered stress management workshops to all staff, while senior management attended workshops to help them learn how to recognise the symptoms of stress and mental resilience issues among their staff.
Cunningham added: “In designing our strategy, we decided we wouldn’t just focus on things that are 100% work-related. We gave people the opportunity to deal with any stressful issue because, ultimately, whatever the stressful issue in their personal life, at some point it could have an impact on their working life as well.”
As a result of its strategy, BMW has seen a 58% reduction in psychological disorders claimed for through its private medical insurance scheme. The judges felt BMW’s approach could be a benchmark for other organisations.
BMW was delighted with the accolades, Cunningham said. “From our point of view, it is the prestige of being recognised by our peers, because it is our peers who are looking at what we’re doing and believe we are doing something extra special. It also allows us to go back to the business and reinforce the message to our employees that what we offer is market-leading.
“I believe we are winners because what we have offered on mental health is unique and hadn’t been done by any other employer.”