I have returned to the business after a period of furlough, keen for us to invest even more time and effort in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of our staff.
The Mindful Employer Network hosted a number of meetings throughout the year with a series of speakers, and the social enterprise Tasting Colors spoke at the October conference. What they said resonated with me, both personally and for the company. I firmly believe that if you can use a local resource, you should. We are now the first private company to work with Tasting Colors on this particular type of personalized individual wellness project.
Our first challenge was to meet to find out whether or not this was a potential relationship.
We had a Zoom meeting, and they were interested that we have a local head office in Swindon and field staff and clinicians across the country, in Scotland and Wales, so there were various elements to take into account when designing this tailor-made program.
Tasting Colors indicated that there was some initial work to be done around our motivation and what our management and board of directors thought of it. They made the decision that if there was no buy-in from senior management, they would advise not to worry about it.
I compared it to rising damp in a house: the moment you see it, there is already a problem.
It takes a lot for a company to really decide to roll up its sleeves and approach this in a pragmatic and meaningful way, and be willing to hear and learn. First, you need to understand what wellness means to people. It can be anything from free tea, coffee and biscuits to a 24/7/365 mental health and personal health care offer, and whatever. lies between the two. I had to find out what this meant for the staff at OutsideClinic, not as a homogenous group of optometrists or audiologists or administrative staff, but as individuals.
Our first step as a company was to make the decision not to come up with a policy or try to pre-empt a solution, or go through a tick box exercise to try and come up with a ready-made offer. use.
Starting from the premise that well-being is a strategic issue has allowed us to think in a more innovative way, and to reflect on a different approach. I compared it to rising damp in a house: by the time you see it, there is already a problem. I wanted to make sure I did a lot of maintenance work to make sure the problem didn’t happen.
The real politics will come at the end, when we’ve done all the learning and when all the testing and piloting has taken place, and we’ve had feedback and evaluation.
The first thing we did was our annual employee survey, in January 2021.
The survey was divided into ‘my job’, ‘my job’, ‘being me’ and ‘being me at work’. We were very careful about the way we grouped the questions, in order to obtain not only a good evaluation of the way our employees felt about the company and their place in it, but also their well-being. The employee survey included suggested wellness questions by Tasting Colours.
It was important for us as to be able to follow up on the suggestions of our colleagues as quickly as possible, as far as possible. And we did: we changed the dress code; we have become a living wage employer. We became more family friendly and flexible in the packages we could offer. We had quite a few wins to start with, and I felt that helped the staff understand that they were traveling with us; that we were just getting started. We had done things as quickly as we could that were doable and reasonable, and we brought them with us. That’s why I think later on the wellness survey had such a high response rate.
The strategy is not on paper yet. I have note folders, and it will be a matter of gathering and figuring out what we need
When we assessed these results, we went to Tasting Colors with the information we had and set out to set up another wellness survey, which gave everyone who participated a score on the mental wellbeing Warwick-Edinburgh. We had a 70% response rate to this survey, which we were delighted with.
Of course, getting buy-in from directors and the board is extremely important, and that involves investment.
It helped that Deloitte wrote, in January 2020, a report titled Mental Health and Employers: Refreshing the Case for Investment. I spent time with our CFO, who has now become one of our Workgroup Wellness Champions.
If we wanted to be a great place to work, that made sense. I want great people who are happy at work. It’s very simple, really, and that’s how I got the buy-in. It helped that Tasting Colors was innovative, very cost-conscious, and really understood what it takes for a business to get a wellness solution that wasn’t just a tick box exercise.
We wanted to make sure we could involve everyone.
Inclusiveness has many facets: there are unconscious biases and different levels of cultural awareness of wellness and mental health. I would like to be informed of what we can do to open it up to everyone. Talking about it makes a big difference because if it’s a casual conversation, then it becomes a comfortable place for people with differing opinions.
It’s as small and as big as you need it to be. The environment, the will and the momentum are essential
Our wellness pilot includes individual sessions. These are a rich source of feedback that the team and I can review to make sure we aren’t missing anything or getting caught off guard. We are all working together on this inclusive aspect.
It’s not something that sits on the shelf that I look at every month or every year.
Until we’re in a position where I really feel like everything in our business, including our environment, our work processes, the way we operate and the way our people feel, is pinned down, it’s a daily workout. In every management meeting, well-being is on the agenda. The board has it as a line of focus, and we have a human resources manager who recently joined to make sure it remains a priority and we don’t lose that focus. It takes hard work and determination to be a great place to work, and we still have a ways to go.
We try to weave much of what we hear and learn, including process, system and operational changes, to bring forward the perspectives of our people.
It’s really important that we have buy-in from senior management to support positive change. There’s no place in the business that wellbeing won’t touch, even down to the type of signage in the building – we’ve had conversations about what’s appropriate, what’s the right kind of message. Wellbeing as a topic is as small or as big as you need it to be, and the environment will play a part, but of course it’s essential to keep the momentum going.
At the end of the pilot, there will be an evaluation meeting to decide if it was successful, and if we go ahead and roll it out to all other departments, including field and headquarters staff.
It’s about ensuring a work environment that is as good as possible, so that we can encourage, build, manage and maintain all the positive elements that we are able to bring into the lives and work of our employees. The strategy is not tied to the policy at this time. I have a number of reports and assessments and reviewing them will inform what our wellness strategy needs to be.
In every management meeting, well-being is on the agenda
The hope I have for my staff is that they have more self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience, and that they know what their purpose is, as well as the ability to recognize when he might need support in his work or personal life. life. If I have happy employees, that means I have a great workplace.