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Wasabi launches its first UK employee benefits package

Wasabi the sushi retailer has, for the first time, introduced a pension and benefits package to its UK employees.

Wasabi has introduced a stakeholder pension plan which has initially been rolled out and communicated to 105 senior UK staff members; including the management team, head chefs and branch managers.

There are approximately 930 additional members of staff, primarily Wasabi's floor and kitchen assistants, who will receive details of the pension scheme next year to meet the company's responsibilities around pension reform.

For this initial group of employees, the pension is set up on a tiered basis, with Wasabi contributing up to 8% provided the employee contributes 5%. Prior to the new scheme, Wasabi had explored a number of pension providers and chose to work with advisor Secondsight to introduce the first companywide pension scheme.

Communication was a key aspect of the project at Wasabi. Due to the company attracting a large number of foreign nationals considerations had to be given to the 80% of the workforce who are second language English speakers. An additional challenge was that a large proportion of staff was unable to take time out during the day due to the demands associated with food preparation and service.

To compensate for this, Secondsight ran a series of group presentations, which were held from 4.00pm at Wasabi's head offices in Camden, London. Holding the meetings at this time of day meant it wouldn't interfere with the day to day duties of the workforce and led to 72% of the targeted employees attending a presentation.

Each employee was also offered an individual meeting with an adviser and where required, a translator was available from Wasabi to help employees fully understand the pension benefits package. The individual meetings were also held at times to suit the workforce and were held either at the company's Camden office or at one of their London Oxford Street Branches.

In spite of the language difficulties for some and the transient industry that Wasabi operates in, 71% of employees are now a member of the pension scheme, with 100% of joiners saying their pension knowledge has improved significantly. Engagement with this group of employees has significantly increased - with 94% of staff now saying that they value their benefits following the communication exercise. 75% of those who joined the pension scheme said having the individual meeting was very beneficial.

Nikki Phillips, HR manager for Wasabi said: ?"With the new pension legislation coming into force we were increasingly keen to offer our valued employees a package that was competitive, as well as helping us to navigate the anticipated changes of the upcoming pension reform. It was important to show our employees that we weren't introducing the scheme because we had to, rather we wanted to, and so we knew we needed to make more of this opportunity.

"By offering access to comprehensive financial education we were able to overcome a number of obstacles in implementing the scheme to a workforce with varied support needs. The results seen so far have been fantastic and I am delighted with the feedback received. I am also looking forward to rolling out the scheme to the rest of our employees next year.

"We have done some great work around the pension so far and we are in a good place now to continue to build the rest of our benefits offering. Plans are in place to roll out an additional benefits package over the coming months. These positive steps continue to demonstrate our appreciation to our current employees, as well as attracting new talent into Wasabi."