We have talked a lot recently about the lack of progress employers in the UK are making on their wellbeing strategies. How negative of us! With that in mind we instead want to take a moment to celebrate businesses that are listening to their employees and implementing wellbeing strategies that actually work. Including some long standing WeThrive clients but also companies that are breaking ground and doing what it takes to prove that their employees matter.
Clarity Travel: improving mental health awareness in-house
Despite having some success with their wellbeing strategy already, Clarity Travel came to WeThrive because they wanted to hyper focus on improving mental health for their employees and track their progress. Group Head of HR Jane Harrington explains:
“We had a good Wellbeing strategy but have worked on improving it in 2018 by focussing on Mental Health in the workplace as this is an issue that is getting more and more prevalent and we wanted to ensure that we understood it and were equipped to support it.”
Jane knew that the key to doing this was to educate the senior team on how to manage their teams mental health. Initially they sent the senior team on a one day Mental Health Awareness course and they are now rolling this out to all the Managers and Team Leader in the business. Jane adds:
“Sometimes managers are promoted into roles without being given enough support or training and when dealing with people issues you occasionally make mistakes and only learn from experience which can be demotivating for the manager and for the employee. These courses are designed to help managers understand core issues on the topics, legislation, policy and procedures, what the employer duty of care is but also we are finding that sharing knowledge and tips with other managers is a very positive side effect from these courses. By giving our managers the information and tools that they need they grow in confidence and this has a direct impact on employees and their wellbeing.”
In addition, to ensure that they are trained and comfortable to help managers and employees the HR Team are going on a 2-day Mental Health First Aid course this year. Lastly, to help solidify their commitment to improving mental health Clarity Travel have also signed up to the Mindful Employer Charter, a voluntary agreement that supports employers in working within the spirit of its positive approach.
“We regularly measure how our employees are feeling using the WeThrive survey and from benchmarking the scores against the previous surveys and reading employees comments we know how people are feeling and can then make plans to improve where we need to.”
This new approach is in the early stages for Clarity Travel but Jane has said feedback from managers who have been on the course has been extremely positive:
“[Mental health in the workplace] is a sensitive topic and it is often very difficult for managers to colleagues to support people with Mental Health issues as there is sometimes limited understanding and outdated stigma surrounding it.”
To continue their good work Clarity Travel will be running a series of in-house courses for their management team in 2018. Kicking off with Absence Management and followed by 3 other modules including coaching and feedback. They’re also planning to increase awareness and provide training on another area directly linked with wellbeing which is Resilience. The ability with which an individual is able to bounce back after periods of stress and adversity. Something they believe if well managed and supported will help reduce stress levels and sickness absence.
Personal Group: enabling ‘how are you feeling?’ conversations
Personal group have a relatively young team of field based Engagement Executives who work away from home most weeks. They are often fresh out of university, or similar and don’t necessarily have experience of working remotely. They also recently had a number of newly promoted Team Managers who knew how to address sales performance but didn’t yet have the skills to ask questions that uncovered how their teams were feeling as individuals. Our WeListen employee survey is designed to ask questions that get to the route of how employees are feeling, something that Personal Group HR Director Rebekah Tapping saw huge value in right away, she explains:
“WeThrive told us in the moment how our Engagement Executives were feeling. It enabled HR to have conversations with Team Managers about how their people were and how they would approach conversations with individuals. Having a graph in front of them really helped managers to start a ‘how are you feeling’ conversation.”
Going beyond the standard ‘annual survey’ approach Personal Group ran our WeListen survey every quarter in 2017. Resulting in an increase of engagement levels from 72% to 80% in that year. Employee retention also improved by 19%. Better year, Rebekah was also able to correlate the engagement levels of each team to their performance. Discovering that the higher the engagement level resulted in higher performance levels.
In 2018 Personal Group plan to roll WeListen out to further departments beyond the sales teams, whilst continuing the good progress they’ve already made with their Engagement Executives last year.
Expand Executive Search: Unlimited holidays & flexible working
Expand Executive Search place a lot of value on listening to their employees and since implementing our WeListen surveys to do that effectively – they have made some bold changes as a consequence. The boldest of those being flexible working and unlimited holidays implemented, something many employers, or SMEs more specifically, shy away from out of fear performance will be impacted as a result. Sam Maxwell-Reed CEO of Expand Executive Search has found quite the opposite:
“It was a really bold move for us and it’s been a big success. Our contracted holiday was 25 days, the average across the company was 28 and one of our people took 45 and business performance was exceptional. From a business perspective all of the classic measurements that tell you how your business are doing, we are succeeding. Sick days are down, business growth up churn is down. All the classic measures of people performance are in the right direction.”
Sam has worked really hard on not just implementing but also ensuring that all employees live the values of the company:
“We work really hard to listen and this is where WeThrive has really added value. Because it allows us to tap into sentiment in a moment. How confident people feel, how capable they feel and how engaged they are in what they are doing right now. And we can be responsive to that in a moment. So, we run a WeThrive survey every 3-6 months and essentially it’s invaluable feedback that allows us to make decisions. We don’t just put it out there though, we have to respond to it and react.”
For example, Expand Executive Search used to have a health and wellbeing allowance, but all the employees that didn’t go to the gym were saying ‘it’s all a bit health orientated isn’t it?’ So, we they went to Perkbox, which offered a much broader range of benefits. Now employees can get their subsidised gym but they can also get discounts to go for pizza. Later the employees shared their views and said they didn’t like that. So, they went back to the health and wellbeing allowance. Even though they came full cycle, Samantha believes its taking action on their feedback that has delivered the increased engagement from teams within the business, she adds:
More recently the Expand Executive Search have shifted their focus from physical wellbeing to mental health with plans to introduce some Resilience and Mindfulness training for the whole team to manage the inevitable stresses of business:
“Our health and wellness plan has always focused on the physical aspects of wellbeing. In its evolution we now aim to also support mental wellbeing. WeThrive helps us understand how we can develop the psychological aspects health and wellbeing. With a focus on the whole person we hope to develop greater confidence through improved headspace and a sense of security and control.”
What can you do to recreate their success?
Listen, then act. When you think about it like that it’s quite simple really? Less throwing blanket benefits and perks at a wall and more responding to what your employees need.
Every one of these employers have made progress by listening to their people and asking the right question through WeListen. You can get started with a free trial now or have a read of get some tips from our latest blog on how to motivate employees without free beer.