Finnish Red Cross Blood Service: every fifth employee utilises the bicycle benefit

The Finnish Red Cross Blood Service supports the well-being and work ability of its employees through the bicycle benefit. Commuting by bicycle is also an environmentally friendly choice. One in five employees eligible for this benefit has taken the opportunity to acquire a high-quality bike at an affordable price.

The Blood Service adopted benefit bikes in the spring of 2021. At that time, COVID-19 was still rampant, and the component shortage affected bike availability. Therefore, it was important to proceed quickly to ensure everyone had the opportunity to get an electric bike if they wished.

The implementation went smoothly.

"The only thing that surprised us was how smoothly everything went. We had anticipated that there might be lots of inquiries to human resources. But Vapaus provided good service information, which gave people all the information they needed. It went very nicely," emphasises Willy Toiviainen, Communications and HR Director.

Toiviainen mentions that users appreciate the employee bicycle benefit. Many new people have become enthusiastic about cycling thanks to the benefit. In other words, the initiative has successfully attracted people to exercise who might not otherwise get on a bike.

"A big plus is that we don't face any extra administrative hassle or confusion in managing the benefit."

Employer's Guide: All About the Bicycle Benefit

Employees wanted benefit bikes

The initiative for benefit bikes originally came from the employees. Alert cyclists noticed that the tax authority's policy change in late 2020 made benefit bikes beneficial for both employees and employers.

According to Toiviainen, employees have always been encouraged to stay active, and the employee benefits are health-oriented. Benefit bikes fit well into this framework.

“We conducted a preliminary survey where about fifty people, roughly ten percent of the staff, expressed interest in the bicycle benefit. The interest was so high that we decided to take action.”

At that time, the Blood Service was also preparing to move to new premises in Vehkala, Vantaa. In conjunction with this move, there was a desire to increase the use of public transportation and bicycles for commuting.

“We want to use benefit bikes to reduce sick leaves and prevent workability issues in advance. It is also a modern employee benefit that helps in the competition for top talent.”


Charging lockers are available for e-bike batteries.

The new headquarters in Vantaa have taken cyclists' needs into account. There are storage and washing areas for bicycles as well as charging points. In the changing rooms, everyone has a personal locker. There is a drying room for sweaty clothes and a drying cabinet for towels.


The Blood Service provides a space with equipment for bike washing

The bicycle benefit is equal for everyone

Toiviainen emphasises that a key factor in favour of Vapaus was the nationwide service. This way, the bike benefit can be offered equally to all employees across Finland.

“Vapaus’ offer was the most suitable for us: the operating model was good, and there was a wide selection of bikes available. Additionally, from an administrative perspective, we wanted the service to be as easy as possible. Vapaus’ concept was clear and functional.”

The Blood Service did not set any goals, such as the number of users. The aim was simply to create a smooth and functional employee benefit bike system.

“We wanted to offer a benefit bike to those who wanted one. About 10 percent of employees expressed interest in the bicycle benefit. Currently, almost 20 percent of those eligible have acquired a bike. We consider that a very strong number.”


Kati Hiltunen and Sanna Kettunen have acquired ebikes for their use.

Employer branding improves and the environment says thank you

Toiviainen notes that there are many benefits of benefit bicycles for the employer.

"We want to have healthy and happy employees. Benefit bikes are also a tangible action for the environment. We have a limited number of parking spaces in Vehkala, Vantaa. With the increasing popularity of public transportation and cycling, they have been sufficient."

And employees get access to a good means of transportation without having to pay a large sum of money at once. The tax value of the benefit bicycle agreement is deducted from the salary monthly, and in return, they quickly get access to an electric-assisted bicycle.

The Blood Service promotes commuting by providing an incentive pay. If you travel your daily commute by walking, cycling, or any other means of exercise, you get paid 25 cents per kilometer, and it is taxable income.

"People have really liked the incentive pay. It encourages them to make the most out of the benefit bike as well," Toiviainen says.

The operating model of Vapaus has been fine tuned to smoothness

According to Toiviainen, the best aspect of Vapaus' service is its comprehensive concept.

The digital platform is "incredibly good," extending all the way to reporting. Every step has been made as easy as possible for the employees.

Toiviainen highlights the breadth of Vapaus' partner network as the second important factor. People from different locations across Finland can get everything they need from their chosen bike shop, brick-and-mortar store, or online store. If necessary, Vapaus assists employees in finding the right bike.

"Our administrative side receives very few inquiries. You can tell that the Vapaus concept has been refined over a long period, and it works well. Vapaus genuinely listens to customers and develops its service accordingly."

willy toiviainen spr

Willy Toiviainen, Communications and HR Director, The Finnish Red Cross Blood Service

The employee bicycle benefit is suitable for all organisations

Toiviainen believes that implementing an employee bicycle benefit program doesn't require a particularly athletic group. At the Blood Service, users span all age groups from young to seniors. Even completely new individuals have become active cyclists thanks to acquiring a bike through the employee bicycle benefit.

"In fact, it's a plus if the employee bicycle isn't seen as something exclusively sporty. It encourages new people to engage in physical activity. Cycling is low-barrier exercise; for many, going to the gym, for example, is much more challenging."

Who would you recommend employee benefit bicycles to?

"Employee benefit bicycles are suitable for anyone! People of all ages and backgrounds from various parts of Finland use them for commuting."

Vapaus bike benefit for your employees?