Positive News: How businesses are helping employees back into work, part two

HR up and down the country is reintroducing employees back to their workplaces - either physically or a return from furlough. We highlight just a few of the many brilliant initiatives HR is undertaking to make the process as seamless as possible.

Diversity and inclusion

St Andrew’s Healthcare

Following on from the discussion around race in the workplace, St Andrew’s Healthcare has introduced a new reverse mentoring initiative aimed at raising awareness and understanding about the barriers and challenges faced by its BAME staff.

Around a quarter of staff at its staff are BAME, compared to the national average of 12.5%.

The scheme aims to remove unconscious bias, help shape thinking, policy and strategy and build understanding of the experiences and perspectives of BAME staff.

It will also allow some of the organisation’s younger BAME staff to have a direct voice to the top of the organisation.

There are currently five reverse mentors across all levels, from nursing to allied health professionals such as healthcare assistants.

Flexible work


For organic produce provider Riverford, flexibility is going to be critical to its return to work approach for at least the next 12 months.

Speaking to HR magazine, people and culture director Charlotte Tickle said that the company has already been prioritising office space for people struggling with remote work,and it is currently working on achieving 25% on-site capacity.

From September she said the she sees scope for opening up bookable space in the office for teams that want it, but it’s going to be about finding the right balance.

Tickle said: “I think people want a flexible approach that's home working and working in the office. We still need to shape what that longer-term view of working from home/being in the office, is. And it's the balance of that individual productivity versus team/company, and the interaction and benefits you get from people being together and that cross-team working face to face.

Premium Credit

At finance company Premium Credit many of the adjustments that have been made as a result of COVID-19 are here to stay as long-term changes to the business. One of the biggest of these changes has been the company culture surrounding remote working.

Josie Pileio, Premium Credit’s chief operations & people officer, explained, “We had a very traditional work style [pre-pandemic]. We were flexible, but working from home was not a common thing, it was based on exception and request.

"But [now] I think because we're all in it together that makes a big difference, and a hybrid way of working may change some of the behaviours and some of the perceptions. Certainly, you can't go back now when so many people are pleading for [working from home] to be the way forward.

To cultivate a more positive culture around remote working, the HR team at Premium Credit also introduced virtual coffee meetings, mandated lunch breaks in which no meetings can be set and early finish Fridays which are expected to continue after the outbreak.

Pileio added: “All of those things we did were just to ensure that our teams about that they had a team, and that we had a business that we could rely on."

The full piece of the above appears in the July/August 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.

FInd part one of this article featuring HR responses from The National Business Response Network, Kaspersky, Make UK, Cigna Europe and RMBF and Rightsteps here.