The UK and Ireland arm of global information technology (IT) organisation Fujitsu is focused on tailoring its benefits package to meet the needs of both its employees and the business.
Paula Evans, head of pensions and benefits, UK and Ireland at Fujitsu, says: “Our leadership team gives us really clear direction on how we achieve through our employees. We have a clear focus around employees, customers and results. If we are delivering in those spaces, and if we are looking after our employees, the business will do well.”
David Brackwell, head of wellbeing and inclusion, UK and Ireland at Fujitsu, adds: “There is a recognition that our benefits and our policies need to match up with what people need. If we are responsive to people’s needs, then that will play back into performance.”
This philosophy is evident in two new programmes that Fujitsu has introduced this year. The first is a new phased approach to retirement, which allows employees to reduce their working hours for a small reduction in pay.
Evans adds: “It creates a bridge for them to think about what they want to do next in life, whether that is focusing on hobbies or leisure time. It also enables us to reinvest in bringing new people into the business, so it helps us from a succession-planning point of view.”
Fujitsu’s other new policy is around flexible working. Staff can now take up to four weeks’ unpaid leave a year to manage their caring responsibilities. Brackwell says: “One thing that is becoming an increasing challenge for people is caring responsibilities. People are often presented with childcare and eldercare problems, and it becomes a real issue.”
These new programmes trace back to the organisation’s aim of being people-focused, placing its employees at the heart of everything it does.
“We need benefits that are aligned with that,” says Evans. “That really enables our employees to be successful, because they are not worrying about things they do not need to worry about.
“We have a good benefits package that covers all the essentials for staff, but we’re also enabling them to choose other benefits, to really support their health and wellbeing, and life within our organisation.”
Flexible benefits scheme
Employee choice is delivered through Fujitsu’s flexible benefits scheme, which includes private medical insurance, a health cash plan, health screening, group risk benefits and travel insurance.
During its flexible benefits enrolment window each autumn, the organisation takes the opportunity to focus on a few key benefits. In 2012 and 2013, it communicated the details of pensions auto-enrolment.
Fujitsu auto-enrolled its employees in June 2013, but has continued to communicate to staff in the auto-enrolment section of its trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension plan that they can move up to more generous contribution levels.
Its main DC pension scheme provides double-matched contributions for staff, so those who pay in 3% receive 6% from Fujitsu, up to a maximum employer contribution of 10%.
“The [organisation] is very much about choice, rather than forcing employees to do anything they don’t want to do,” says Evans. “When auto-enrolment came in, we were aware that quite a lot of employers in the UK would be thinking about levelling down and reducing contributions.
“We thought that really wouldn’t be responsible for us as an employer and it really wouldn’t be doing the right thing by our employees. We brought in an auto-enrolment minimum section in the plan, so that if employees don’t choose to join the main plan, for whatever reason, we will auto-enrol them, but at minimum levels.”
Fujitsu also aligns its flexible benefits enrolment window with on-site health fairs, which it has run for two years. To date, these events have included inviting its healthcare providers on site to provide information to employees, on-site wellbeing kiosks and an on-site nurse.
Brackwell says: “We also put in HR people who had been briefed and understood the benefits. We have seen an increase in take-up of health benefits. Is there a direct correlation? I would like to think so.”
Health and wellbeing
Healthcare and wellbeing is an area that has grown in importance for Fujitsu in recent years. “If you go back two or three years, there was the idea that wellbeing was something we should have had on our agenda,” says Brackwell. “There was a lot of stuff being done, but from my perspective, without great focus. It was gym discounts and fresh fruit. It was great, but it was activity without direction.”
Fujitsu has now developed a cohesive health and wellbeing package that focuses on health issues representative of its workforce. The organisation’s top three health concerns are musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease and stress.
“We have focused our activities on those areas,” says Brackwell. “With cardiovascular disease, we provide people with information and opportunities, for example asking: what are your personal health metrics, and what might you do if you want to make changes? With musculoskeletal, we manage issues as they are presented, and I think we do that very effectively.”
Fujitsu formed a partnership with mental health charity Mind in 2013 and conducted some research across its workforce. In 2014, it plans to implement recommendations from that report. Brackwell says: “There are a number of things employees were looking for, such as peer support, information about the issue, and managers’ ability to access information. Those things were coming through strongly and that will be our plan for this year.”
Aligned with its focus on providing benefits that employees actually want and need, Fujitsu ensures its benefits and policies engage and enable staff. Evans adds: “I think we have that, either through the flexible benefits programme, our employer-paid core schemes or our employee discounts programme.
“The meeting of business needs really comes through that engagement metric, which enables our employees to do all the things the organisation needs of them in terms of achieving results. There is real clarity in our company dashboard between what we are asking of our employees and what are we delivering back to them.”
Fujitsu at a glance
Fujitsu UK and Ireland is an information technology (IT) systems, services and products organisation.
The UK and Ireland arm began as International Computers (ICL) in 1968. In 1990, the Japanese organisation Fujitsu, which has about 170,000 employees in more than 100 countries, acquired an 80% stake in ICL. In 1998, it became a wholly owned subsidiary and was known as Fujitsu ICL. The ICL part of its name was dropped in 2002.
In the UK and Ireland, Fujitsu employs just over 10,000 people across 250 sites. Its core sites have about 3,000 employees, with a similar number based at its larger client sites and the rest spread out across smaller client sites.
The gender make-up of the workforce is 77% male and 23% female, which reflects the IT sector norm. Almost two-thirds of staff are aged between 40 and 59, with 33% in their 40s and 27% in their 50s.
Business challenges impacting benefits
- A challenging marketplace created by the UK economy.
- Ensuring it is able to deliver great-value products to customers.
- A need to be truly consistent across the globe.
Paula Evans, head of pensions and benefits, UK and Ireland at Fujitsu, joined the organisation in May 2007.
“I joined to be the UK pensions manager, and over that time I have had responsibility for various things, such as global mobility,” she says.
Before Evans moved to an in-house role, she was a pensions consultant for several consultancies, including Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt), HSBC Actuaries and Consultants, Hymans Robertson and Watson Wyatt (now Towers Watson).
In 2013, she was involved in reshaping three of Fujitsu’s final salary pension schemes, after the parent organisation invested £800 million into the UK business, which was then invested in pensions.
“It was something that positively touched the lives of more than 20,000 people, in terms of pensioner members,” she says. “It improved benefits security and it improved the company’s position as well.”
David Brackwell, head of wellbeing and inclusion, UK and Ireland at Fujitsu, has been with the organisation for nearly six years.
“The role I initially came into was managing various health benefits, such as private medical insurance and occupational health, and health and safety,” he says.
A couple of years ago, Brackwell began to look after wellbeing, a remit that has since been broadened to include diversity and inclusion.
“The wellbeing programme and the way we implement it is what I look on with the most pride over the last few years,” he says.
- A trust-based defined contribution (DC) scheme with employer-matched contributions up to a maximum of 10%.
- Two legacy defined benefit (DB) schemes, closed to new entrants and to future accrual.
- One DB plan that is selectively open to new members, such as staff that transfer to Fujitsu from the public sector.
- Private medical insurance, available to some staff as a contractual entitlement and to others through the flexible benefits scheme.
- Health cash plan, available through flex.
- Dental cover, available through flex.
- Health screening, at various levels depending on staff grade and available through flex.
- Life assurance for all employees.
- Additional life assurance and dependants’ life assurance available to pension scheme members and through flex.
- Group income protection via pension scheme membership.
- Critical illness insurance, available through flex.
- Personal accident insurance, available through flex.
- Job-need cars for employees that travel more than 8,000 miles a year on business.
- Company car schemes for certain grades of staff.
- Childcare vouchers.
- Bikes-for-work scheme.
- Travel insurance, available through flex.
- Holiday buy and sell, available through flex.
- Employee discounts scheme.
- Recognition programme.
- Interest-free season ticket loans and loans for staff to buy Fujitsu products.
- One day’s leave a year for volunteering.
- Four weeks’ unpaid leave a year for caring responsibilities.