If there was one word you’d use to describe the Muji workforce, it’d probably be ‘diverse’. Employees come from multicultural backgrounds, and are aged anywhere from 18 to 65. This diversity is something the company takes great pride in, and meant they were keen to find a benefits and rewards platform that would engage everyone.
At the same time, conscious of the nature of retail, they wanted something which was low on administrative effort. As HR Manager Leila Blackman explains, Muji essentially wanted flexibility for both employer and employees.
“We’re very diverse in the makeup of our culture and company. As part of that, everyone has different needs and expectations and that’s something very important to Muji.”
Retail is also quite fast moving, so we needed something in place to give people a bit more flexibility and what they wanted, but something which wouldn’t need much administration from our side.”
Empowering individuals with choice
The Perkbox platform was built to cater for all lifestyles, especially with Perks hub and the introduction of Flexi Perks. Muji employees are given an allocation of 25 Flexi points each month to spend on a wide selection of Flexi Perks. These can range from a coffee, to an online development course, to a music streaming subscription and even charitable donations. This is something Leila believes shows employees they are appreciated as individuals.
“It can be very hard to cover everybody’s needs, but Flexi Perks help us do that. We have people who are interested in the cinema, others who like gardening, others who might want a supermarket meal deal. It's understanding everyone's different and not trying to push people into holes.”
To date, Muji employees have saved thousands by using Perkbox. Much of that time has seen global economic uncertainty — but with savings available on a range of things such as groceries, eating out, home essentials and health and beauty, the value of the platform on people’s daily lives is clear to see.
Flexi Perks have also been used to complement some of Muji’s internal engagement efforts, such as Caffè Nero hot drinks being used for team get-togethers and tea breaks. In addition, Leila states that the ability to save Flexi points up over a period of time and get something of a higher value, has created an educational benefit.
“I like that you can roll points over. I think it’s almost teaching people to save a little bit, which is quite useful for some of our younger workers.”
A varied approach to wellbeing
Flexibility and choice isn’t just related to one part of the platform though. Perkbox’s Wellness hub section has a huge range of content — from workout videos, to meditation guides, to sleep stories and more. This proved to be exactly what Muji needed during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, as Junior HR Adviser Vera Ekengren explains.
“Wellness hub was really good, especially in lockdown. The exercise sessions were great and we did some yoga sessions together while we were working from home. It’s something that fits everybody as there’s such variety, so there’s something for everyone.”
Leila agrees, and says that Muji’s use of Wellness hub has continued well beyond lockdowns:
“I cannot say enough just how much I love Wellness hub. It’s an amazing benefit for us to provide for our employees and it’s continued to grow over time. I refer to it probably every two weeks within the business, whether I’m talking about it in general, or perhaps if I’m talking to managers who are feeling stressed. Just recently we had an employee who told us she uses Wellness hub every day before she starts work.”
Just like the Flexi Perks, Muji also use Wellness hub to complement other aspects of their EVP — this time linking it in with career development.
“We have a career development section and one of the things we did was to drive people to webinars on Wellness hub that might help. One was around imposter syndrome which helped people understand a little bit more about themselves.”
Vera also believes that offering an Employee Assistance Programme has made their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) stronger. This allows employees to access 24/7 guidance including counselling sessions, bereavement support and online therapy.
“It’s quite a good thing for us, especially when we’re promoting it to people because we’re able to show we have something tangible in place for them.
High choice, low cost
Traditionally, this high level of choice would also have meant a large cost to the business. However Perkbox provides something which Leila believes is “realistic.” She adds:
“For us as a retail business, we hire quite a lot of people so cost is important. Sometimes you look at benefits and some of the prices are so unrealistic. With Perkbox, this isn’t the case and I didn’t feel embarrassed to go and ask my board for the money as I knew it wouldn’t be out of our budget.”
The value provided by Perkbox isn’t just related to the platform. Both the initial launch and ongoing marketing support allow companies to save another hugely important resource — their time.
“It’s easy to roll out — for us, everything was done by Perkbox at launch. Even now, every month we're trying to push it and drive it again and the marketing support is all there for us, ready to go.”
Evolving with employees
The change in employee needs and working styles have seen Muji benefit from the other hubs on the platform. Remote working means that head office staff are no longer just based in London, but across the country.
Culture hub therefore helps communications become more streamlined, while Celebration hub enables recognition across all locations. Within the first month, a third of Muji employees had made use of this by sending a recognition. Leila says this will be a key part of their employee engagement efforts.
“We did some employee surveys and one of the big things which came out was that recognition was something we needed to work on. So with the help of Perkbox and Celebration hub, we’ve really tried to drive that. We’re also going to make use of Reward Marketplace — for example we can enter people who’ve been recognised on Celebration hub into a prize draw, and they can win a voucher.
“It was really important for us to show employees that we take their feedback on board and then put things in place.”
Leila sees Perkbox as “a long-term commitment”, having seen tangible and positive results. This includes around 75% of their total workforce logging in per month, while a survey of head office staff saw 96% say they were happy with the platform.
“It’s definitely something people are engaged with. We’ve seen such an improvement, so moving forward, Perkbox will stay with us for a long time.”